Many things don’t look the same this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and nowhere is that more evident than weddings: Big groups of people traveling to drink and hit the dance floor is a whole checklist of “pandemic don’ts.” Many couples have chosen to elope, scale down their ceremonies to something very intimate or postpone until next year.
But for those getting married who want to have their whole community present, the internet has made it possible to include loved ones from afar. And it doesn’t have to feel like yet another Zoom meeting, advises wedding planner Ashley Lindzon: “Don’t lose sight of the fact that your virtual wedding can be filled with the same amount of love and warmth as the wedding you had originally planned.”
Below, check out tips from couples and wedding planners who’ve pulled off spectacular virtual weddings, to help you decide if a virtual wedding is right for you – and to make it the best, most memorable one it can be.
Make people feel part of the action with a special delivery.
“For the past few virtual weddings, we had customized gift boxes created and delivered to each guest at home,” says Lindzon. “They included items such as the wedding ceremony program, fun food items, champagne, and more. Some included religious accessories (like kippahs for a Jewish wedding), and most memorably, slices of wedding cake!”
According to Lindzon, receiving a package on the day of the wedding adds a personal touch and makes the guest feel excited and honored that you went the extra step. And they’re still likely to be easier on your budget than a full, blowout wedding.
Ahead of Charlene and Xavier’s wedding (below), the guests received green screens in the mail so they could use digital backgrounds designed by the bride, a graphic designer by trade. The photographer, Eddie Winter, shot the whole wedding virtually while spending quarantine in Maine, and the company also hosted a Zoom with the bride and bridesmaids to teach them how to make their bouquets to bring the wedding party “together.” The small details helped to make guests feel like part of the action.
Look at the small details in decor.
“There are so many ways to make your virtual wedding special,” says wedding planner Jove Meyer. “Firstly, make decisions based on your style, personality, and relationship! Guests want to ‘see’ you and your partner in all the details, even if they are digital.”
Meyer recommends planning the wedding just as you would an in-person one: “Dress up the ceremony area to make it beautiful and special with flowers, furniture, decor, or other items that represent you and your partner,” he says. “You can have music playing while guests are logging on—these can be live musicians or a playlist of your favorite songs. If you want an aisle, set it up and walk down an aisle, and feel free to fill it with teddy bears, cutouts of your friends, or flowers. Get creative to make your virtual wedding special!” You may not have all your guests around you, but you can still plan to create a day you won’t forget.
Plan for technological failures.
“Anyone looking to have a virtual wedding should have a back-up plan in case technology fails,” say Booker and Joanna Williams, a couple who had a virtual wedding in September 2020. “We had two different WiFi hotspots, extra data for each, back-up phones, and multiple login options for guests. Also, if Zoom failed, we had Google Meet and Skype prepared just in case.”
They also enlisted a family friend to manage the tech details, so they wouldn’t be frantically fixing computer issues instead of celebrating. He also served as the Zoom cameraman, following the couple around during photos “so that [the guests] could feel like they were part of the day,” the couple said. “Our virtual guests could see the processional, the ceremony, and even the mini-concert our quartet played for us!”
Leave the details to the pros.
Just because you’re doing a scaled-down ceremony doesn’t mean the whole thing should be DIY. “I would absolutely recommend hiring a professional to film the ceremony and host the virtual wedding,” says Lindzon. “You should focus on your wedding day and not the Zoom waiting room admittance or the sound quality. Wedding videographers are offering livestream options for virtual celebrations, which are very impressive and worth the investment.”
Provided you take necessary social distancing measures and are comfortable with it, having experts on hand to decorate the space, capture the moments, provide the music and manage the “guest list” can make the day super beautiful. For instance, Little Sister Creative offers a Zoom I Do package where they help decorate the space and plan the logistics of the wedding (for instance, coordinating toasts or organizing Zoom breakout rooms to simulate “tables” at the wedding), while Rosie Green Events offers varying degrees of virtual wedding planning that allows for venue choosing, decor, and technical difficulties.
Remember what brought you together in the first place.
“Planning a wedding is an emotional journey and doing it virtually is not much easier,” says Meyer. “It may even be harder to navigate as you feel like you have to compensate for it being virtual, so you may put more pressure on yourself. But just remember the core of your wedding is love. You found the love of your life, you want to declare your love to them and vice versa in front of your nearest and dearest, be it in person or online… and that is an amazing and magical thing.”
For Camilla and Carl (above), the wedding was an entirely private affair, with nobody present but the two of them at Cedar Lakes Estate in N.Y. They spent a couple of days there relaxing together, then got married on the water. After the wedding, the couple then went on to a digital cocktail hour, where they sipped drinks and listened to friends and family give speeches on Zoom.
It’s important to note that, unlike an in-person wedding, there’s no limit to the number of people you can invite. It can be a huge celebration with people from all around the world, which can help form the sense of togetherness you may be missing in this unusual year.