Planning & Running a Virtual Wedding: How Brides All Over The World Are Responding to COVID-19 Lockdowns April 09 2020

The world seems to have turned itself upside-down on us. Our neighbors are saying that they feel like they’re stuck in an episode of The Twilight Zone while others express that they seem to be moving through a dystopian novel. And with all the ominousness surrounding the spread of COVID-19, comes cancelled plans, postponed celebrations, and a true uprooting of normality. 

With the upheaval, comes our engaged couples and their scramble to salvage their wedding. Some are having to postpone their event to a later date while others are cancelling it completely - for the time being. And then there are the determined souls who just want to say their “I do’s” and celebrate in the face of mass quarantines. Now, we aren’t saying that you should still go through your wedding, with all your friends and family in tow. Instead, a virtual wedding may be a reality that fits.

Making The Decision

 

If you have a wedding date anywhere in the nearby future or neighboring season, you may already be asking yourself, “How can I salvage our wedding?” Well, there are tons of couples in this predicament and we’re seeing a lot of them take the virtual route. They’re saving money and forging ahead with their celebration. But, they’re doing it in a way that keeps everyone safe and anxiety-free. 

Maybe you can’t get your vendors to align at a later date. Maybe, if you do, your VIP guest list won’t have the accessibility to attend. Or maybe, at the end of the day, this experience has shown you that what matters most are your vows and not the rentals or the floral arrangements. If so, you may want to make the decision to host your wedding virtually. 

The First Steps To Take

  • Let Your Guests Know
    However you feel is the best way to communicate with your guests list will work, just make sure you pass the message to everyone. Announce your decision through social media, e-mail, or just a classic “divide and conquer option” among you and your friends with some phone calls. Also, relay the access information on to those that you’ll want to “tune in” to the event. You can even send out a new invitation for your virtual event through
    Greenvelope.

  • Tech Info
    Do your homework when it comes to technology. If you want your entire guest list to tune in, then utilizing Facebook or Instagram Live may be your best option. If you want something more intimate, Facetime may work nicely. But then there are the accessories you might need as well such as a tripod or microphone. More info can be found on your options below. 

  • Vendor Communication
    When flipping the plans for your big day, make sure you communicate with all of your vendors. We know that there are a lot of locations that are shutting down completely to get through the wave of sickness. While others are operating under conditions that keep the social distance. For example, you can still have your wedding cake and florals by using a no-contact delivery option. Just be open with your vendors and see what you can work out based on your vision for this virtual event.

  • Officiant Info (Virtual or In-Person)
    Speak with your officiant about what options they are comfortable with and whether they’re still willing to perform your ceremony. Some may want to Skype in to bless your nuptials, while others may come to the site but stay 6-ft (or more) away. For example, we’ve seen couples saying, “I do,” from a balcony below their pastor. 

  • Prep Your Space
    Whether it’s your backyard, front patio, or in the dining room, prep the space. Clean it up and decorate it a bit. Grab some fresh florals at the store and utilize services such as Target’s Drive-Up to complete your at-home vision. You may also want to set out your best wine glasses or champagne flutes while using local alcohol delivery services that are being allowed in many U.S. states. 

 

How To Run the Show

 

Tech Options

One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is what technology to utilize to stream the ceremony to friends and family. Thankfully, there are multiple options that are both free and novice-friendly.

Here are some favorites:  

  • Zoom
    This is a free service that your laptop or tablet can utilize but the time limit caps at 40-minutes. If someone has a business account and organizes the meeting, it can go past this time limit. 

  • Facetime
    Perfect for those who will only be using their phones. Keep in mind only 32 users can be involved at once. 

  • Skype
    Easily download this app to your laptop or smartphone and host up to 50 viewers. 

  • Instagram or Facebook Live
    You can host your ceremony “live” through Facebook and/or Instagram without worry of limiting your viewers. It must be noted though that anyone on your friends’ list would be able to watch (including those outside your original guest list). 

  • Google Hangouts
    Phones and computers can hop onto this service and a video call can have up to 25 participants. 
  • What gear or accessories do you need? 

  • Laptop, Smart Phone, or Tablet
    At the very minimum, you’ll need to have one of these on hand to stream your nuptials. A please, please, take it for a test drive before the main event! 

  • Tripod
    For those going with a phone or tablet option, you’ll want to snag a tripod to keep things secure, at a good level, and less shaky. Take a few moments to learn how to mount your device properly as well. 

  • What Traditions To Include

     

    Photography

    When it comes to photography, virtual wedding or not, you’ll want to capture the moments. This is one of the vendors you won’t want to cancel completely. It’s also one of the vendors that may still feel comfortable enough showing up and doing their job from a distance.

    Food

    A full meal won’t be needed but your cake sure will be! This is too much of a classic tradition to nix. And the cutting of the cake is a moment that’s easily streamed to your loved ones. And then you’ll have a bunch of leftovers to enjoy while isolating at home. Also, a benefit from this is that you can save some money by downsizing your cake to fit just the two of your (and a slide for the officiant and photographer!). 

    Music

    Thanks to technology, the show can still go on - including your music. Although a live band may not be a possibility, a single soloist may be able to socially distance themselves from you while strumming a tune. Of course, a playlist is another way to keep the ambiance flowing without worry of extra hands in the mix

    Guest Involvement

    Keep your loved ones entertained and feeling involved by giving them tasks including: 

  • Screenshots
    Make sure everyone tuning in is ready to screenshot or screen record the best moments. At a traditional wedding, couples usually ask guests to hashtag moments from the wedding or send photos or video clips to a joint e-mail. Well, screenshots and screen-recording can go a long way for offering opportunities to gather keepsakes of this “virtual” celebration.

  • Play Games
    Since a festive-filled reception is off the books, find new ways to have a bit of fun and games with your loved ones including rounds of karaoke or bride and groom quizzes. 

  • Dance, Dance, Dance
    Even though you can’t share the dance floor, you can still dance. Have everyone tune into your first dance as husband and wife. And then leave your friends and family to break out on their own from the camera.

  • Share a Screen
    For those wanting to share a word or two, share the screen with them. Your maid of honor, the father of the bride, and your best man may want to go ahead and give you the toast they’ve been working on for months now!

  • Real Couples Who Did It (Or Plan To)

     

    We’ve already been seeing this trend happening around the globe. Couples everywhere are committing themselves to each other while their loved ones watch safely from their own homes. 

    • A couple from Wisconsin has been planning their wedding since December 2018 but decided to forgo their preparation and say their I do’s in their dining room instead. They utilized Zoom, having both their officiant and guests participate virtually. 
    • We also spoke with a mother of a groom having to change up his original plans as well. Melinda Birdwell, Nashville native, told us, 

    “My son and his partner are getting married on April 4, 2020 but not in Florida like they originally planned. They just went back and forth a lot a few weeks ago whether to postpone or not. They finally decided it was the best decision. I think they knew it was going to happen all along, but it's so hard to give up on your dream day. Even just to change it. 

    Luckily, all of their vendors are family or close friends, so they have been really helpful. They were lucky enough to have everyone hold their deposit and keep it for the new day- whenever that may be. They are hoping for June.

    They just started the process of putting together Saturday. They had no idea they would actually get to be married on their original day, but they came across an officiant that is willing to work with them. All I know is that the families will watch through FaceTime.”

    • This adorable couple had to say goodbye to their dream day but decided to still go through with their nuptials. All ended well as they have 200 of their family and friends in attendance to their virtual celebration.
    • "For us, it wasn't about the wedding, it was about getting married," said Chris. A Colorado Springs couple decided to switch their wedding date online where viewers watched their ceremony take place via Facebook Life. 
    • Zoom helped with this Georgia couple’s big day as well. They dressed to the nines and sipped on champagne with their family and friends watching online. They’ve also decided to postpone their honeymoon, but plans to celebrate and have a reception next year with their loved ones.