With the technology available today, it's easy to host a virtual wedding so that all your friends and families can attend your important day. Many wedding venues now offer this service as well as professional wedding videographers or you can go the DIY route following some easy steps.
How to Host a Virtual Wedding
Live streaming your wedding can go off without a hitch if you plan ahead and take into consideration any issues that might arise during the process.
Invitations for a Virtual Wedding
The first consideration when live streaming your wedding is how you will handle the invites. You do not want to create an "in-person" and "virtual" list of guests as this can lead to hurt feelings by guests who can attend in person and were not invited other than virtually. The politest option is to note on the invitations that live streaming will be available and allow guests the chance to choose that option. Of course, if your wedding will just be limited to a very small number of people for specific reasons such as a destination wedding, or a wedding where one individual is ill and requires social distancing, then you can structure the invite to provide details on the ceremony and why live streaming is the only option for the majority of participants.
Keep Your Stream Process Private
With the current rise in online live streaming and video conferencing use, unfortunately hacking these events has risen as well. For this reason, you should not post the link or login details to your actual live stream event on any public venue such as Facebook. When the final details are available, you are safest emailing the information individually to attendees. You might even want to include a line in your email stressing to your attendees to please keep the information private.
Check the Internet Connection
Contact the event venue to find out what their internet connection capability is.
- Many churches already have a live stream setup and will be happy to let you use it for free or a small fee.
- Venues such as hotels should also have internet services available, though they may cost quite a bit more.
- Outdoor venues may require you to use a smartphone for the stream or you can purchase a mobile hotspot from a cellular provider.
The ability to wire your equipment directly into their service is a stronger option than using wifi. If you are hiring a professional to live stream the event for you, they can give you the specifications they'll need to confirm with the venue, or they may even contact them for you to verify the information. It's also a good idea to go to the venue prior to the day of the event and test out the internet connection to make sure it works as well as it should. You can use a website like Speedtest or their smartphone app to test the connection.
Ask About Fees and Services
Depending on where you hold the wedding, there may be additional vendor fees involved to live stream the wedding, such as for internet access and using their staff if they provide the service in-house. If you're hiring a videographer, they may offer the service as part of a package that includes recording and professionally editing the wedding video after the event is over. On the other hand, they may offer these additional services on an a la carte basis, so you want to make sure everything you want is included, especially if you want the event recorded.
Make Sure Filming Is Ok
You should ensure that everyone who will be captured on the live stream is fine with being filmed. This includes not only your guests, but event venue staff, the DJ or band that you hire, the wedding officiant and anyone else who might be there such as the cake delivery service staff and caterer.
DIY Equipment List
If you decide you want to do it yourself, it will be easiest if you have at least one person there who can assist while you are involved in the actual ceremony. There are a few critical pieces of equipment:
- You will need to have something to capture the video which can be a smartphone, tablet, or a video camera.
- You should also have a tripod to rest the camera, phone or tablet on.
- A microphone may be necessary if you find the acoustics in the venue won't be captured well with additional technological assistance. A microphone is also recommended if the wedding is outside, as background noise can be much louder on the stream and recording than it seems in person.
Hosting the Live Stream
In addition to equipment and someone to run it, you will need to have a place to run the stream.
- This can be as simple and low-cost as using Periscope, Instagram or YouTube, or streaming it to a personal website. While these apps are free or very cheap to use, they also will make keeping your stream private difficult, and some may require your attendees to have accounts to view them. Others may not keep a recording for you to download later.
- One excellent option is EventLive which was created for live streaming weddings and can be run from their website as well as their smartphone apps.
- WebWed Mobile is another app created for live streaming weddings and also offers an entire package that includes getting the marriage license and officiant for you.
- Wedfuly offers live streaming of weddings through the popular Zoom video conferencing platform.
- Vimeo also offers a live streaming service that starts at $75 a month.
Decide What Will Be Filmed
Some couples only have the wedding ceremony streamed while others include the reception. Depending on how your reception is expected to go, you may want to avoid including it. For example, if you expect guests to become a bit too exuberant enjoying alcohol at your event or indulge in embarrassing toasts, you may want to skip live streaming that part of the event. Remember that live streaming is "live" - whatever happens will go out unfiltered to everyone watching.
Using a Videographer
If you decide to have someone do the live stream for you, you can either search for videographers who are local to you who offer this service. Your event venue may be a good source of referrals for local videographers, as well as other wedding service providers such as bridal dress stores, florists and your wedding officiant. Another option is to contact a national company that offers this service such as:
- "I Do" Stream is a service that partners with videographers all around the U.S. to do live streams of weddings. They offer three options for live streaming weddings. The first is a DIY process where they walk you through the equipment you need and set up and provide the hosting site for the live stream. The second is a package where you can rent all the equipment you need from them along with the hosting for the stream. Third is where they handle everything by working with a local videographer.
- My Streaming Wedding works with videographers all over the U.S. as well as international destinations to provide a complete live streaming package. The streams are sent to either your Facebook, YouTube or Twitter personal page or a custom website they set up for you.
Live Streaming a Wedding During a Crisis
If your wedding date ends up occurring during a crisis, such as a natural disaster or a pandemic, you may decide to continue with the event and include guests virtually instead of cancelling the wedding. This makes hosting a virtual wedding the perfect option, and you can limit actual in-person attendees to immediate family and your officiant.
Wedding Live Stream Tips During a Lockdown
If you find yourself needing to live stream your wedding during a local or national crisis situation, you can do it simply using a few adjustments to your plan.
- Use an easy DIY solution such as EventLive that doesn't require a videographer. All you need is a tripod and a smartphone, tablet or even a laptop with a webcam and an internet connection. You can even make a makeshift tripod using some boxes and something to lean your camera against.
- If the venue doesn't have a good internet connection, you can use the data plan on your smartphone. Just make sure you have enough data and contact your provider if you need to increase the amount temporarily.
- In some cases you might even want to just limit the wedding party to you and your significant other, the officiant and your witnesses and live stream to everyone else. This can make it much easier to live stream as you only have to worry about a small group of people staying within the live stream frame and you can enforce social distancing.
- If you currently have family or friends dealing with more difficult circumstances, you may find it better to hold off on the wedding reception to preserve the solemnity of the occasion. You can also host a wedding reception later when the situation is better and include watching the wedding video as part of the celebration.
Live Streaming Your Wedding to Friends and Family
Setting up your wedding with a live stream is a wonderful way of involving people who may not have been able to attend, either due to distance, illness, military deployment or the need to care for young children. There are many options available to you and it can be easily done as a DIY setup with a minimal budget. Just make sure you follow the steps and ensure you have the right equipment and a reliable internet connection so your perfect day's live stream goes seamlessly!