But just because the pandemic is raging doesn’t mean all of your wedding plans have to be ruined. That’s right! You can grab this situation by the reins and steer the would-be out-of-control freight-train back on track by planning an epic virtual wedding for you and your beloved. Wondering how you can pull it off?
Here are some top tips from industry experts on how to feel empowered and throw a kickass virtual wedding:
1. Choose the Right Platform
There are a lot of video chat platforms for just this occasion. From Zoom to Instagram Live, Facebook Live, and Google Hangout. Which one is right depends on what you want to do. Do you want your virtual wedding to be an interactive experience shared with family and friends from far and near? If so, Zoom is a great option. People love this one because it is very low-cost, provides you with high-quality cloud recording, allows up to 24 hour meets, and has a max capacity of 100 guests. And of course, you can record the entire wedding to watch again and again.
On the other hand, if you prefer your guests to be seen and not heard, you can get by with a more basic streaming service. You won’t have the quality of the interactive features, but guests can still watch alongside you. Guests can live stream the action without getting in the way of the dream-like ceremony you’ve planned.
Smart tip: Schedule the wedding, and send out the link in advance so people aren’t scrambling to get to the “chapel on time.” You might want to include instructions on how to log-on for the technologically-impaired friends and relatives.
2. Stick With Tradition
Just because the world has gone crazy around you doesn’t mean you have to give up on all your plans. If you’ve dreamed of cutting into a 5-tiered, fondant-laced, white angel food cake since you were a little girl, then, girl, you’re gonna have it! If you envisioned getting married amidst floral bouquets and cascading petals, then call the florist. Your wedding venue may have been downsized and your guest list limited or relegated to a video screen, but you can still have a lot of the fun, traditional, and exciting elements at your virtual wedding.
Fun tip: Oh, and don’t forget to dress for success. Whether it’s a poofy white gown with all the frills that come along, a smart pants suit that says ‘I am Style’, or an adorable summer piece you’ve been dying to wear, make sure to dress up for the occasion. Virtual or not, this is YOUR WEDDING DAY! And 10 years from now, you’ll enjoy looking back at that magical moment as you tied the knot with the person you love looking the part from head-to-toe.
3. Set the Tone
This is the part where you can really have some fun. Especially since you are saving a lot by hosting a virtual wedding, you can spend more on the decorations. So really go all out. If flowers are your thing, create a botanical garden (yes, even in your concrete jungle, yes, even in your own living room!). Have flowers draped over flat surfaces, winding around banisters and poles, and hanging down from bookcases and light fixtures. Be sure to create a stunning bouquet for yourself as well.
If candles get you in the mood, light up the night! Have tall, tapered candles on flat surfaces like a countertop or island. Use large base candles in glass cylinders on the floor to toss up captivating shadows (but not for pictures), and use floating votive candles to set the tone. Buy candles that match your color scheme to really tie things together.
Fun tip: Set the stage by making sure anything in camera view is picture-perfect. Clean up the area, of course, but also set things up for a more dramatic appearance. This could be accomplished by hanging dramatic plants (plastic is cheap and looks good on camera), pillars and some soft fabric draped over for a magical altar, or string lights strewn about for an elegant, fairy effect.
4. Pick the Right Music
Then create a wedding playlist with a music streaming app to have playing in the background throughout your special day.
Fun tip: Not only will this further set the tone around whatever wedding venue you’ve chosen, but it’ll be a cherished keepsake you can listen to over the years together with your newly beloved.
5. Keep the Ceremony Short
Between sluggish streaming, internet glitches, and short attention span theater, asking people to sit through an hour of a drawn-out ceremony at a virtual wedding is just cruel. Instead, focus on the aspects of the ceremony that are most important to you (reading vows, the big “I do!”, a special song you wrote for your spouse), and keep it short and sweet.
Smart tip: You can print or email a copy of the vows being read or the ceremony program so your guests can follow along during the event.
6. Get Interactive With Wedding Baskets for Guests
Create gift baskets for all “attendees” and mail them out before the special event. Have a program included in the baskets. Then your friends can follow along throughout the wedding, interacting and doing the same things as you (for example, 4 o’clock: blow the bubbles 5 o'clock: eat the cake, 6 o’clock: use the party blowers and dance, etc.!). Baskets can include cupcakes, petit fours, or other small desserts, wedding favors, bubbles, alcohol, monogrammed napkins, or anything else you want to include to set the tone for your wedding.
Fun tip: If you have the budget for it, you can deliver the same meal box to each guest. This way, everyone can sit down to enjoy the wedding dinner together, eating the same food for optimal closeness and experience.
7. Don’t Skip on the Photos
Whether you use your own phone, ask a friend to do the job (social distancing considered), or you hire a professional, wedding day photos are memories that you’re going to want to have forever. A backdrop is also a nice idea for the perfect shot.
You can also have someone in charge (again, either professional, appointed bride’s maid, etc.) to be in charge of getting snapshots of the guests throughout the wedding. These will be fun to flip through after the wedding. And if you have a creative photographer, they can create a beautiful photo montage of the couple using the various screenshots of each guest at different points throughout the ceremony.
Fun tip: Use the right lighting to get the most amazing pictures. Natural lighting is always a winner (stand directly across from a window, never in front of). But if you can’t get any or are taking pictures at night, make sure to have plenty of light in the camera's view.
8. Have the Right Tech Gear in Place
This may include additional lighting, a quality camera or laptop, or a tripod so your guests have the best angle of the big event.
Smart tip: Please do check your tech. This includes checking your internet connection (WIFI or cellular), having the right settings on all devices, charging all devices the night before, and making sure all the angles are right. And by all means, test out the position and quality before the wedding day.
9. Don’t Forget the Paperwork!
Virtual officiants are legal in some states, while other places will require you to have the officiant and witness there in person in order to meet the legal requirements. Check with local laws to see where you stand.
10. Send Out the Invites
To make things as realistic and true-to-life as possible, be sure to send out save the dates and invitations.
Smart tip: You can send actual print ones or, to stay within a tighter budget, just use an e-vite service like Paperless Post, Evites, and Greenvelope.