What do you do when you have a beautiful couple, eager to get married, who have been planning their wedding day for months and months, arrive at a place where they have to have a virtual wedding event?
How do you make that day special for them although it is online with a limited number of family and friends present? Do you have flowers or no flowers? An actual venue or just a nice park? A cake or no cake? And how do you ensure the Zoom doesn’t freeze while streaming?
These are questions that have likely crossed the minds of wedding planners and planners of other similar celebratory events over the past few months since COVID-19 has taken its global course. We’ve been forced to think, innovate, and create magical and beautiful moments for our clients.
Well, why not. It is rumored that Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton got married in a discreet, backyard wedding. How cute!
Technology is going to be our very best friend in these times of sheltering in place and limited human contact. When it comes to wedding and event planning, it is essentially a contact sport. But as times have taught us, improvisation and innovating are our new best friends.
Here in this piece, we will provide some tips to help you plan the virtual wedding of your client’s dreams.
Decide on the virtual platform
We all have likely heard about Zoom which has been blowing up over the past few months. But there are other platforms to consider such as Houseparty, Facebook Live, and Google Hangouts. More on these platforms later.
You can identify someone to take screenshots or photos of the ceremony as well as the reactions or applause of family and friends. And, of course, the whole thing can be recorded for posterity.
Coordinate with the other vendors
These vendors may or may not look different from traditional wedding vendors. Some vendors such as the photographer could be kept in the loop of planning. Social distancing can still be enforced as you will likely only need one photographer for the two of you.
You will also want to think about the officiant or pastor who will be involved. Will he or she be at the venue or will they lead the ceremony online as well. You may need to check your state’s legal requirement since marriage is considered a legal contract. Just be sure to take care of that marriage license.
And then there are the food and cake caterers. You might decide to cater in a meal for the two of you as well as scale down the cake. Or, if you have the money to spend, you may want to have all your friends and family join in by ensuring food is delivered from your favorite restaurant to their house.
With space not being a limitation any longer, the bride and groom can extend their invitation to anybody they choose. Once all the preliminary arrangements and decisions have been made, you can now start sending out virtual invitations. There are several virtual wedding invitation platforms you can use for this including Paperless Post and Greetings Island.
In this invitation, you can include the virtual meeting link information, instructions for your guests to be able to log on if they’re not technically savvy, and maybe implement a celebratory dress code or color to help them get into the mood of being at a wedding. No sweatshirts and yoga pants here.
Ensure each guest RSVPs. This will give you a good gauge to ensure the platform you have chosen is suitable for everyone. And, of course, you can host the after party and reception online as well.
In the age of dress shirt on top and sweat pants on bottom, let’s not forget that just as much effort should go into preparing a virtual wedding event as a traditional wedding event. As a wedding planner, you will want to give the bride and groom your full expertise, making use of technology and virtual interactivity.
While you may have to modify these, as a wedding planner, you will want to ensure planning documents are in order, design and creative inspiration, proper budget, a virtual wedding checklist, contract reviews and signatures, and access to someone who can help answer your questions are all in place
Let’s talk about virtual wedding platforms
Zoom is the most common. You can host video calls up to 40 minutes with a maximum of 100 participants under the free plan. If you need more time and want more people to join, then you can upgrade to a paid account. Plus, there are dozens of Zoom backgrounds to choose from.
Facebook Live is not just for cooking videos anymore. It offers a free option in which you can have 8 hours of stream time and an unlimited number of participants. The only downside is everyone who is invited would need to have a Facebook account to access it. A private group would help to ensure you only stream your wedding to your friends and people you invite.
Houseparty is another cool and fun app which is best for informal virtual gatherings. This could be a good idea for a virtual bachelor/bachelorette party or maybe the wedding reception party. You can create your own room and 8 people can join on the video call to chat and even play games.
Google Hangouts is also a free platform which offers unlimited time for a video call and can be hosted with a maximum of 25 people. Anyone can access your video even if they don’t have an account on G Suite. Perfect for a small, family-oriented wedding.
We can be sure that a virtual wedding ceremony is untraditional and unique. With the right planning and preparation, you can turn your wedding day into one you and your virtual guests will remember.
And, if you want to throw an in-person celebration once the world is back to normal, there’s a blessing in that too. The bride can wear her dress twice and well, almost everything happens double.