Wedding planners are more than just event planners. We're designers, problem-solvers, coordinators, budgeteers, part-time therapists, and friends to the couples and families who are entrusting us to help them with their events. Since we're on friendly terms now, here are some tips and tricks to the trade of navigating wedding planning!
The Virtual Wedding Experience
And how it can save your Wedding Day!
Over the last few months, hundreds of thousands of couples have had their wedding plans completely upended. Months of planning, preparing, phone calls and meetings with vendors have been all for naught, and we are having to go back through contracts, looking at cancellation and postponement policies. Couples are faced with the choice, postpone or elope.
For most of these unlucky couples, the disappointment level was palpable, like having the rug pulled out from under their well-laid plans. Couples and vendors are suffering alike. Wedding vendors have had to close their doors or cancel their services. In short, it’s been a real mess. There is some good news, however, and it’s this; you can still have a virtual wedding. It is definitely not the Dream Wedding you had planned, but it can be extremely special.
What is a Virtual Wedding, you ask?
If you’ve ever used Zoom, Skype, or one of the other video-conferencing apps, you already know about virtual meetings. A virtual wedding is more-or-less the same thing. It allows you to share your wedding day with those you love via video, in real-time. In some cases, that includes the officiant joining virtually as well (which, truth be told, does cause various legal issues that we’ll discuss in just a sec).
What a virtual wedding does is allow many couples to get married now and share their ceremony with friends and family virtually rather than postponing to an uncertain future date. For couples that don’t want to wait, a virtual wedding is perfect as it allows them to start their married life together right away. And, truth be told, they can be just as beautiful, touching, and fun as a traditional wedding in many ways.
Are Virtual Weddings Legal?
Yes, in many states (and more every day) virtual weddings are legal. With a few guidelines and considerations to follow, you can legally get married with a virtual wedding many States including:
What this means is that your officiant (pastor, priest, rabbi, ordained friend or family member, etc.) doesn’t need to be in the actual location with you, but can be on the Zoom or Skype call like everyone else. This would be a complete virtual wedding if you will.
There’s also another type of wedding that you can have virtually, which is similar to an elopement or tiny wedding. That’s when you and your partner are together with the officiant and a handful of others and everything is broadcast live via Zoom, Facebook Live, Skype, Instagram Live, or any other video platform. That way, everyone else in your circle of family and friends can join you in the festivities virtually.
With this 2nd type of virtual wedding, everything would be legal, of course, since the officiant would be there and all the necessary paperwork and witnesses would be there also.
In the case of the 1st type, however, if you weren’t in a state where it was legal, you’d need to follow up your virtual wedding with paperwork and documentation in the future. Basically, it would be a temporary placeholder for the real thing.
If you're worried about older family members being able to attend and don't want to wait, it's an excellent alternative to postponing or cancelling your wedding completely.
Also, and this is definitely a consideration, many people are on edge these days due to everything that's going on in the world. Even though it’s virtual, a wedding experience like this would allow people to have some fun, smiles, and laughs while blowing off a little bit of steam.
How To Make a Virtual Wedding Awesome and Memorable
If you and your partner decide that you don't want to wait and will have a virtual wedding now, below are a bunch of excellent tips we'd love to share with you. These will help make your virtual wedding beautiful, enjoyable, and memorable for everyone.
Pick a Proper Platform
Throwing a virtual wedding means you need to choose a video platform that allows you to send out a live video stream of your wedding to all your friends and family. It allows them to interact with you as well, on most platforms. In our opinion, Zoom is probably the best video conferencing tool for virtual weddings, with Skype in second place. Platforms like Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and Google Hangouts allow people to see you, but not interact with you. Of course, you'll need a laptop computer or a tablet to do this, and the Zoom, Skype or any other app you want to use. Consider using a hardwire connection to ensure the connection is uninterrupted. There are even vendors that now offer Live Streaming Services for your wedding ceremony! Consider hiring a professional to ensure there aren't any hiccups.
Send Out Your Invites
Just like a traditional wedding, a virtual wedding is best when you have friends and family in attendance! The easiest way to invite people is to simply send them an email or electronic invitation but, of course, a paper invitation is incredibly beautiful. If you hold your virtual wedding with Zoom, you’ll need to give everyone you invite the meeting link and ID, which is easy to include on an email invitation. If you're sending out traditional paper invitations, I recommend directing your loved ones to your wedding website, and posting the link there. That way, they can easily click on the link, rather than typing it into a browser, and risking a typo.
What To Wear, What To Wear
Frankly, you can wear anything you want to your virtual wedding but, if you want it to really feel like the real thing, the wedding dress, tuxedo, or suit elevates your personal experience. Your family and friends will enjoy seeing you in your formal attire as well. That’s especially true if your officiant is there with you as well as a handful of friends and family in person. That being said, if you want to wear something completely different, funky, fabulous, or off-beat, go for it! It's your wedding! Enjoy your day to it's fullest!
What About Hair and Makeup?
This is kind of tricky. In some states, you can go and have your hair and makeup done professionally. In others, that might not be possible yet in which case you'd have to beautify yourself. It really is such a treat to be professionally styled, but if it's not possible, don't dispare. Let's be honest, most people are decent at putting on their own makeup and styling their own hair. You've had lot's of practice and I believe in you! If you're planning on hosting another gathering later to celebrate when things open back up, hire a professional stylist then! It is worth the splurge.
Setting the Scene With Flowers
Even if most of your guests are unable to attend in person, they'll still appreciate a beautiful backdrop. Select a bouquet(s), boutonniere(s), and arch with lovely focal flower arrangements to frame you as you say "I do".
If you are enjoying a small luncheon or dinner after as newlyweds, decorate the table. It is still a special day, and you should treat it as such. Enjoy dinner in a lovely garden with a farm table, love seat, and a gorgeous floral centerpiece.
Go for it! Order a catered meal so you don't have to cook. Many locations are still offering foos for pick-up. You deserve your special day. Treat yourself!
What About Some Music?
You definitely need to be creative when it comes to music for your virtual wedding. In some cases, you may be able to invite a DJ to be there with you. In others, you may need to put together a list of music on your own that you’ll play in the background. Keep in mind that most video sharing apps don't allow you to actually share music through them, so you would just have to have it playing in the background. But if you're strategic with your song selections and copyrights, you may be able to share the music!
If you have an MC or DJ with you, a good suggestion is to enable a separate chat capability so that they can give your guests a similar experience to watching your wedding on TV. One thing you can share through Zoom, however, are slide shows, virtual backgrounds and other personalized elements. If you can do that, it will certainly add to the experience.
How To Run the Actual Ceremony
The best way to actually run your ceremony, if you are unable to have event professionals there to run it, is to have at least one or possibly two friends or family members with you that can help. Of course, please still be safe, wearing masks and social distancing. If it will just be the two of you and all your guests and officiant are joining virtually, have a friend or family member join as host. They can do things like mute and unmute guests based on what the officiant tells them, allowing you and your partner to focus on each other and your vows.
Here’s a good example of how your ceremony should flow:
1. You and your partner, the officiant, and your witnesses should sign on the Zoom app about 10 minutes before the start of your ceremony. Everyone else should sign on once the ceremony begins.
2. When your guests sign on, keep them unmuted so that everyone can say hello and greet each other.
3. Start the ceremony by letting everyone know that they will be muted and will only be able to hear your officiant, you, and your partner.
4. Your officiant will then conduct the ceremony as you and your partner planned. If you have a friend help, they should unmute everyone at the right time so that, as soon as the officiant pronounces you a married couple, you can hear everyone cheering when you share your first kiss.
What About the Wedding Cake?
No wedding, virtual or not, is complete without a wedding cake! If you’re able to order one for your virtual wedding, great! A lot of bakeries are allowing orders for pick up. If not, consider baking one yourself. There are plenty of instructional videos online! Also, keep in mind that it doesn't have to be anything super-fancy or ornate. You don't have to display it for the virtual guests, so it's ok if it doesn't look like your ideal cutting cake. It's more symbolic than anything else and, since no one will be there, it definitely doesn't have to be large.
Capturing Everything in Pictures
Photographs of your wedding, even if it's virtual, are important. You want something you can look back on as the years go by. If you can hire a photographer in your state to come to your virtual wedding, wonderful. If not, having a tripod and camera of your own is your next best bet. Of course, you can also record your entire wedding through the Zoom app, and you should!
How to elevate your Virtual Wedding Guest Experience
Most wedding couples really want a special experience for their wedding guests, and it may feel like a virtual wedding is not enough. There are ways to create a special guest experience though. Consider those that you would like to treat. You could send them flowers for their virtual centerpiece. You could send them dinner, delivered right to their door. You could send them a little sweet treat as their substitute for cake. Maybe even treat them to a bottle of wine! There are endless ways to show them how special they are. Check out ideas for a "Wish You Were Here Box"!
Now You’re Ready For Your Virtual Wedding!
Yes, the fact that you’ve had to postpone (or maybe even cancel) your wedding is a real bummer. We hope, though, that the article you’ve just read has inspired you to throw a virtual wedding instead. We also hope that, if you do, the tips we gave will help you immensely, and that your virtual wedding is absolutely beautiful.
Who are we? We’re Ybarra Events and we’ve been planning weddings in California for many years. We’ve helped hundreds
of couples plan their dream wedding and we’d love to help you plan yours too, even if it has to be virtual. (We’ve gotten
very good at planning them as of late.)
If you need help planning your wedding, whether in person or virtual, we would love to help. Connect with us today!
Tara Ybarra, Co-Owner and Event Planner for Ybarra Events, has been in the Wedding Industry for over 20 years. From Photographer, to Wedding Cake Artist, to Florist, to Officiant, and now Wedding Planner, her accumilated experience, paired with her College Courses in Event Planning, have given her the experience she has today. Blogging gives her an opportunity to share that knowledge with her readers.
Ybarra Events is located in California’s spectacular Napa Valley. Ybarra Events are the pièce de résistance of wedding planners. Run by the dynamic duo of Tara and James Ybarra, they help couples organize, design, and plan their nuptials at some of the most fabulous and luxurious wedding venues in Napa, Sonoma, San Francisco, and Beyond. Chat with them today to start planning the wine-country wedding of your dreams.