Wedding plans changing because of the pandemic? Have a virtual wedding!
Life as we knew it has come to a screeching halt, with the CDC and government limiting gatherings and 22 states basically on lockdown. The “new normal” still isn’t quite normal, and we have no idea how long this could last.
For engaged couples, this has meant a total upheaval in their celebratory plans. But at The Budget Savvy Bride, we are used to having wrenches thrown into our plans — usually due to finances — and have become experts in finding a workaround. Planning a wedding amid a quarantine is no different.
While of course, we would love for all of our nearest and dearest to be in attendance, right now that is a near-impossibility. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still have an incredible wedding day, complete with speeches, photos, vows and being able to see everyone’s reactions. It’ll just look a little more … virtual.
Technology is going to be your best friend during these days of social distancing, and especially when it comes to planning a virtual wedding. Below we’ll outline the steps you’ll need to take to plan a wedding on the internet, plus share the resources that will help you execute everything as simply as possible. Let’s dive in!
Planning a Virtual Wedding: Step by Step
- 1: Choose Your Platform
- 2: Organize the Necessary Tech Gear
- 3: Coordinate with Any Vendors
- 4: Inform Your Guests
- 5: Get Prepared
- 6: Get Married!
Step 1: Choose Your Platform
Video conference software Zoom offers free and paid subscriptions. For $14.99 per month, you can host 100 attendees, get 1GB of MP4 or M4A cloud recording, and can “meet” for up to 24 hours. That’s more than enough time for a ceremony and reception! With Zoom, attendees can set up Speaker View (probably ideal for your guests to view your ceremony) or Gallery View (you, as the couple, could have this displayed so you can see all of your guests’ reactions).
You can designate one guest to take screenshots of your attendees’ reactions throughout the ceremony to include in your wedding album. Your designated readings can still be made by your guests of honor, and your officiant could even be virtual* (or you could maintain the 6-foot social distancing rule). You can still have your photographer on-site for portraits, too!
(*May not meet the legal requirements in all areas. Seek the counsel of local government officials or family law attorneys before proceeding with a virtual wedding ceremony to make sure it’s legit.)
With Zoom, you can continue the party into the ceremony, allowing the wedding party and parents to give speeches, having your first dance and even doing the cake cutting. We’ll talk more later about how to include everyone in your big day in a special way, even from a distance.
Going Live! With Facebook
Another (FREE) option is to utilize Facebook Live for your ceremony. Invite your guests to a private group, and create a private event for them to RSVP to. At the designated time, your guests can hop on to watch you say your “I do”s! Facebook can act as a virtual guest book, too, with guests posting their well-wishes in the days and weeks leading up to the ceremony. They can introduce themselves and “mingle” prior to the ceremony and continue with the sentiments well after. The video will live on in the group as long as the group continues to exist.
Not everyone is going to have Facebook, and you won’t be able to have the same “face to face” interaction as you may with video conferencing software, but the same basic ideas apply. There are software options available, such as Be.live, that integrate with Facebook and allow multiple people to be recorded at once. But be aware that recordings are limited to 90 minutes.
Step 2: Organize the Necessary Tech Gear
Tech is super key in planning your virtual wedding. At minimum you need a laptop, tablet or phone with a camera. If using a phone or tablet, you may also want to get a tripod to mount the mobile device to for steady, even viewing. Take your tech for a test run on whichever platform you intend to use so you can ensure quality will be up to par.
Step 3: Coordinate with Any Vendors
While you may have had to nix your venue, rentals and catering, a few vendors may still come into play. A photographer, for one, is a vendor you may still want to keep in the fold. You don’t need to be up close and personal with your photographer. Social distancing can absolutely still be a thing while they capture all your wedding day glory. Be sure to tell them you’re live streaming so they don’t stand directly in front of the feed!
Your cake is another piece that doesn’t need to fall by the wayside, though you may want to downsize it. You and your partner can still do the ceremonial cake-cutting and nibble on that sweetness, throughout the quarantine. Just let your baker know that instead of feeding 50+ people, you’ll need one for the two of you.
Finally, your officiant can either join the two of you in-person (at a distance) or they can lead the ceremony online*! Just make sure to get that marriage license signed and mailed in!
(*Virtual ceremonies may not meet the legal requirements in all areas. Check with your local officials or a family law attorney to find out the specifics for your area before planning a virtual wedding.)
Since the marriage license is a legally binding contract, the couple and the wedding officiant will likely need to conduct at least part of the ceremony in-person, and it’s important to make sure that you are in full compliance with your local marriage laws.
One possible solution is to have someone nearby – perhaps a roommate or family member that you live with – get ordained online through American Marriage Ministries, and have them complete the in-person legal component of your ceremony (in accordance with local marriage laws and any registration requirements, of course). Once that’s taken care of, you can go ahead and have someone else conduct the purely ceremonial component over the internet in any way you’d like, since your chosen officiant might not be able to be there with you in person.
Step 4: Inform Your Guests
So you’ve figured out how to switch gears to get your big day all teched out, but now you need to let your guests know. Save time, energy and stay #onbrand by sending out virtual invitations. Using Paperless Post or Greenvelope, you can send out gorgeous invitations to your guests letting them know when and where to join you.
Include the meeting link to your scheduled Zoom or to your Facebook group, as well as the date and time. Now, because this is a little outside the box, you may also want to include instructions for your guests on how to turn on their video and ask them to remain muted during the ceremony. And because you’re going to be screenshotting their gorgeous mugs, let them know that you’d love to see them get a little dolled up — they’d probably love the excuse to get out of their sweats and yoga gear!
Ask your guests to RSVP, as you normally would, so you know who to send gift baskets to, if desired. Include a timeline on when to pop the bubbles or open the snacks during your Livestream. Don’t forget to ask for favorite songs so you can all have a dance party together!
Step 5: Get Prepared
You’ll definitely want to do a test run or two before the big day of your virtual wedding, to ensure your backdrop is even, you have the right angle for recording and all of the tech is running smoothly.
The morning of, do what you normally would — have a mimosa, host your wedding party on a separate Zoom or Facetime, take time to get ready and spend a few minutes with your partner (or don’t if you weren’t planning on seeing them!). Make sure you two have discussed this, and the logistics. Do you want your partner waiting at the top of the “aisle” (really, standing onscreen) while you enter from another room? Do you want to start it with both of you on the screen together? Rehearse it beforehand, then figure out who is going to start the Livestream. Don’t forget to push record!
Dressed to the Nines
Now more than ever people are saying “Thank Goodness for e-commerce!” and your virtual wedding is no different. With wedding dresses and suits readily available online, there’s no reason your style should suffer, even if you aren’t leaving the house.
Heck, you could even check Amazon for cheap wedding dresses if you’re in a big time crunch. Check out our list of top-rated Amazon wedding dresses under $100. We’ve got a list of Amazon Bridesmaids Dresses, too.
Likewise, accessories — and even wedding bands! — can be purchased online and delivered right to your door. Blue Nile offers gorgeous sets starting as low as $595. We love shopping Etsy, too, especially gifts for bridesmaids and groomsmen.
Bringing it all together
So, sure, the ceremony is easy-ish to pull off virtually. But what about the reception?
Easy! With alcohol delivery available in many states, you could order bubbly or send small bottles of booze and a mixer for your signature cocktail to your attendees. If you want to get really crafty, add your own special label to the bottles along with a mixer and a straw and include in a gift basket.
Of course, you can also ask your guests to BYOB to this reception! 😉 They can raise a glass with their beverage of choice from the comfort of their own homes.
Step 6: Get Married!
Now, all that’s left to do is say those “I do’s” for your loved ones to attend virtually. Whether you decide to keep things super simple or enhance the experience for your virtual guests by sending care packages, it will still be amazing to celebrate your union with your loved ones.
We know that these times are uncertain and unpredictable, so what better way to break up the monotony of sheltering in place than by attending the virtual wedding of the year! Your guests will love it, and you can still celebrate in person when this is all behind us.
Would you consider planning a virtual wedding during the age of Coronavirus? We’d love to share your Zoom, Facetime, or otherwise virtual celebrations, so feel free to submit them to be featured! xx
Editor’s note: During this time of quarantine and social distancing, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Learn more here.