How to Do Online Weddings in the Times of COVID-19

Thanks to conference call apps and video marriage services, you can tie the knot without leaving your house. This doesn’t mean saying goodbye to your dream day. Here is how to do an online wedding like a pro.

covid-zoom-wedding

THE BASICS

Online weddings are easy to organize. Some couples even hire virtual wedding planners, order cakes and even send champagne and food to their friends. But if you want to wait for happier times to celebrate appropriately, keep it super-simple with the online ceremony.


You need to have bare essentials covered. Five basic things you need are a wedding celebrant, an online livestream platform, a person in charge of your conference call, your wedding attire and a photographer. Everything else is optional. You can DIY your hair and makeup or even make your own bouquet unless you can work out a way to collaborate with vendors while respecting the social distancing rules.


Before you start the live stream, make sure to have a strong and stable internet connection. It is also helpful (but not mandatory) to hire a day-of coordinator who will be in charge of muting and un-muting guests, recording the stream, playing music and everything else that involves hosting a virtual meeting. The choice of hardware is just as important as the choice of software. All you need is a phone, but you can also supplement it with a tripod and Bluetooth speakers to ensure better image and sound. If you really want to go over the top, you can have three-camera setup and professional video production. For the less formal gatherings after the ceremony, it might be easier to use a laptop while chatting with your friends.

ELECTRONIC WEDDING INVITATIONS

There is no need to send print invitations – the electronic ones will do the job. There are many gorgeous customisable and downloadable designs you can find on websites such as Etsy, Canva, Tempoola, Jukebox, Wedding Chicks or Cards and Pockets. Or you can just create a free website and send your friends and family members a link.


How far in advance should you notify your guests?

The rules are not so strict, and many couples send out invites a week or two before the wedding. With most of your friends and family quarantined at home, it is likely they won’t have much planned for that day anyway.


The wording can also be more relaxed than for traditional weddings. Write something simple and personal and make sure to provide all the details such as time and date of your ceremony and a link to the video conference call.


Here is an example: “Guess what! We are getting hitched on Saturday, the 29th of August at 6 pm. Wear something festive and join us for an online ceremony and toasts.

7 BEST APPS FOR ONLINE WEDDINGS

One of the key decisions you’ll have to make is which tool to use for your online event. Some apps allow up to 1000 people to join in the chat, while others work better for intimate gatherings. You should pick an app everyone can easily install and use. Think about your older guests. Which app is the best for them? You may also have to choose between basic and pro accounts if you want to invite a larger group and have additional benefits. Here are the top 7 apps brides and grooms love during Covid-19:


Zoom

The first choice for all kinds of gatherings around the world, this app has introduced new words to our dictionary: Zoom meetings, Zoom parties and Zoom weddings. It has some really cool features, including fun backdrops and the possibility to record your session. It is also great that you can mute your guests during the ceremony and unmute them for the toasts afterwards. The basic account lets you invite up to 100 participants and host a 40-minute event. You can also purchase pro, business and enterprise version if you want more options.

Facebook

Facebook is potentially the best app for virtual weddings because it lets you invite an unlimited number of guests and stream for eight hours. All you need

is to create a private group and start a live. Even if some of your guests don’t have their Facebook accounts, they can still participate in your event.


Google Meet

Google Meet is another useful tool which lets you host an event for 100 people for up to 60 minutes for free. It does not allow you to record the meeting unless you pay for an upgrade. There are five different editions you can purchase if you are not happy with the basic one.


Skype

You can use Skype to host your virtual wedding if you want to invite up to 50 guests. It is a convenient tool older generations are comfortable with, and it has an option to record a meeting. It is also a fuss-free option because it doesn’t require signups or downloads. 


FaceTime

This app is perfect for small events of up to 35 people. If you want an intimate ceremony and all of your friends and family members are using the iPhone, then it is the best choice for you. It is easy-to-use and handy for all kinds of pre-wedding and wedding activities.

Messenger Rooms

With the possibility to video chat with up to 5 people and no time limit, Messenger Rooms has become one of the popular options for virtual gatherings. It is easy to create a room and share the link to everyone. Even people who don’t have an account can join in.

Microsoft Teams

With this free app, you can easily organise a large gathering because it allows up to 10,000 people to participate in the same event. It requires everyone to sign

in (via Microsoft account or with a phone number), and you can mute and unmute attendants just like with Zoom.

LEGAL REQUIREMENTS FOR ONLINE WEDDINGS

With county clerk offices being closed due to coronavirus it is possible to get legally married? The State of California allows video ceremonies to anyone who meets general marriage requirements. This means that you must be at least 18 years old, unmarried and hold a marriage license. Click here to apply for the marriage license.

Unfortunately, you can’t get hitched at the beautiful City Hall or any other San Francisco wedding venue at the moment, but you can book an online ceremony and legally wed via video chat. City and County of San Francisco offer Video Marriage Services, which means that you can do everything in the comfort of your home. Since there is a high demand for virtual weddings, make sure to send all the documents at least three days ahead. Here are the prices:


  • Marriage License & Civil Ceremony Reservation $205 
  • Marriage License Reservation $112 
  • Civil Ceremony Reservation (with a valid Marriage License) $93
  • Marriage Certificate $15


To be eligible for a video marriage through the Office of the County Clerk, you need to be physically located in California and have a reliable, high-speed internet connection as well as software and hardware components that are required for video conferences. Click here for more information and step-by-step guidance.

WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY DURING COVID-19

If there is one professional vendor you need to hire to elevate your online wedding, then it has to be a photographer. While you can capture the whole event with your phone or laptop, it is worth investing a bit more to have professional photos. Imagine how much you’ll appreciate those photos in years to come…

Following the social distancing rules, you can have a photographer capture the two of you before, during and after the ceremony. Couples usually get dressed, create a backdrop, set the scene and pose for the traditional portraits before the live stream starts. Then your photographer can take a few snaps of the two of you exchanging vows, rings and kisses.

Finally, you can do a wedding photoshoot at one of the beautiful outdoor locations where it will be even easier to pose on a safe distance from your photographer.

ADDING A PERSONAL TOUCH TO YOUR ONLINE WEDDING

A lot of couples are asking what they can do to make their online ceremony unique and personal. Standing in front of the camera in your own living room while reciting your vows sounds like an event that is difficult to make original and interesting. Especially when you compare it to the thrill of a real church or courthouse wedding. But there are a few things you can do to make your live stream fun:

    

  • You can use flowers, balloons or other decorations to create a backdrop     
  • You can pre-record speeches,readings, musical performances and even your ceremony processional       
  • You can send props to your guests
  • such as confetti or flower petals to create a send-off effect        
  • You can do a first-dance while your friends are singing to your song (make sure to send it to everyone before the ceremony)
  • You can use Zoom breakout rooms to create a wedding reception after the ceremony  (it is possible to split your large meeting into up to 50 smaller ones and alternate between different sessions)