It’s been three months since the coronavirus pandemic shut down New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana. In that time, couples have faced tough decisions: do we move our wedding completely? Do we opt for a smaller ceremony with the allotted amount of people? Do we completely change our plans?
Many couples have gone with a hybrid of options and adding a virtual component to allow for friends and family to join in on the celebration. But a virtual option can leave room for a few unexpected errors and a new line of thinking when planning a new version of your Big Day.
The first thing to think about is the number of virtual guests. Also, will they attend an entire celebration? Will you do a short ceremony with vows only or opt for a fuller day with a first dance, cake cutting and speeches?
Deciding first on the number of people you’d like to be a part of your nuptials will help aid in choosing a platform to stream the virtual event. There are many video platforms, but each have their own limitations or parameters to their virtual offerings. The main platform options are Zoom, Facebook, Google, Skype, YouTube and Facetime. In an article by the New York Times, the writer laid out, however, some of the limitations set with each platform.
Zoom has become astronomically more popular during the coronavirus pandemic and can be a suitable option for a shorter event with not too many people in attendance. As the NYT points out, the free version of Zoom only allows 40-minute calls and 100 participants. While the number of people is agreeable, the timeframe eliminates a longer planned ceremony and celebration. For anything longer than 40 minutes, couples would have to buy the “pro” version for $14.99 a month, and if you’re planning on more than 500 people (which we wouldn’t exactly suggest since that’s a lot of people to ensure are on mute and are all present) you will have to pay a $50 fee.
Google Hangout is a free platform as well, but only 25 people are allowed to join the call. A basic plan upgrade – which has a free 14-day trial – allows for up to 250 guests. Skype is also a free platform, but only allows 50 people. Additionally, Group FaceTime is free for any user with an Apple device and allows up to 32 guests to join a call.
In our opinion, Facebook’s livestream function may be a couple’s best bet. Though the video quality will not produce the same product as a professional production, the option is free, does not limit the number of people viewing the stream and allows for up to eight hours of streaming time, according to the NYT.
All of the sites offer a little something different and it really just depends on what the breakdown of your new Big Day will look like.
Once you’ve decided on the platform, it’s time to make sure you have everything in order logistically. We put together a few items to remember when planning a live, virtual wedding celebration.
- Choose your platform, as stated above.
- Coordinate with your vendors that may still be involved with the celebration in-person. They may have insight or will be able to help with the technical needs you may have day of.
- Hire a professional (such as a social media manager) or ask a friend or family member to help you coordinate the technology for whichever platform you have chosen. You will want to have this taken off of you and your immediate family’s plates and a friend can ensure everyone makes it in time, everyone is muted at the appropriate time and more.
- If this event is in place of a bigger wedding celebration, take the time to create evite invitations that match what your wedding invitations would have looked like, opt for a smaller or simpler version of your wedding invitation, or stick with your full invitation suite and send them out as normal. Local printing companies like GEM Printing, Stationary Stylist, Scriptura and many others, can advise on alternatives or alter your existing suite with the updated event information.
- Consider a private Facebook event on the platform where you and your family can post updates, important information and you can send out reminders before the day of the wedding.
- This is a difficult time, but virtual options can add a bit of normalcy and allow for all of your loved ones to still be involved.
In the New York Times article, the reporter mentioned Wedfuly, Colorado-based company that vows to “take the stress out of your virtual day.” The company has different packages and offerings that start at $800 and include helping you organize the event, inviting your guests and handles the technical aspect the day of the event. If you’re looking to take the stress off of yourself or your loved ones, a company like Wedfuly may be a smart alternative.