You Can Still Say 'I Do' - 10 Tips on How to Plan a Virtual Wedding

This pandemic has completely disrupted our way of life. As hard as it has been, having to navigate through wedding planning during this time is unprecedented. If postponing your wedding is not your preference, we have all the tips you need to plan your Virtual Wedding.

1. Wedding Website - this has been the cornerstone for your wedding details; leverage what you’ve built and add to it with new photos and information to share with your guests about your virtual wedding. If you’re keeping your original date, even better since your guests were already planning to attend. Ivy Summer, owner of Voulez Events and author of the book "Poise Over Panic: How to Plan a Wedding in a Pandemic" says that RSVP tracking and streaming can be done directly from your website.

2. Invitation - create an updated, timely invite for your guests. Invitations are usually one of the more formal aspects of a wedding, but give yourself the opportunity to let loose and add in your own personality. There are some great design options on these sites available and are all very economical. Or you could also send a change the date card to your guests. Tara Federico, founder of Scheme Events, says you can even create a "Celebration Box" and invite guests to send stories, favors, playlists, and cards.  

3. Platform - from Zoom to Facebook live, there are many options to choose from. You can also stream from multiple platforms depending on how many helpers you have. Wedding coordinator Julie Lindenman says that the wedding officiant can also virtually hold the wedding itself, doing so from their remote location via video service. There are also some companies who will broadcast your wedding and make a video of it as well. Professional wedding planner Candi Block, founder of Right Hearted Weddings advises that you should send out the streaming link details at least 3 times before wedding day, including the day-of, so it's top of mind and at the top of guests' inboxes. 

4. Tech Gear - whichever platforms you choose, be sure to get the necessary equipment like a tripod and lighting. And make sure to do a test run with your tech + platform to make sure everything looks good and works smoothly.  Block also suggests that it's best to find two friends/family members to help with the process, one to assist with any technical glitches (camera, mic, etc.) and one to be the MC who can introduce what's coming next, introduce guests, etc. Luxury Wedding Planner JoAnn Moore suggests using displays such as chalk-boards or printed posters with the ceremony program information.

5. Flowers - many growers have taken a big hit due to the pandemic, so be sure to reach out to your florist sooner rather than later to see what your options are. Most businesses are willing to be flexible and will probably work with you to get you what you want. You can also source your own flowers from your garden.  Cathy Pedrayes, from Kleinfeld Hotel Blocks, offers a creative idea for your bouquet: "Have guests send notes ahead of time and incorporate that into your ceremony via a backdrop or tuck them into your bouquet. You can even create a bouquet entirely out of the notes if you're crafty."

6. Photography - if you have a photographer who is able to attend, don’t hold back; this is your special day, regardless of the new format, you want to commemorate it. Your backyard is, in many ways, the most intimate backdrop, so be sure to capture it! Wedding photographer Leila Brewster encourages couples to think about how they want to capture the new format; some couples want to document the current climate and have more a photojournalist style, while others may be looking for a highly curated set of images. 

7. Dress - this is still your time to shine and enjoy every minute wearing your dress and shoes! (and of course, if you’re wearing heels, make sure to wear Solemates so you don’t ruin them in the grass). If you haven't yet purchased your wedding dress, you can even rent one for this day.

8. Food + Beverages - you’ve probably spent a lot of time thinking about and planning your menu. You can still incorporate these details into your virtual wedding, by sharing with your guests in advance. Offer your signature cocktail by sharing the recipe on your site and on social media so your guests can join in on the fun and toast to you! Greg Jenkins from Bravo Productions suggests that you might want to send each of your guests (households) something they can share with you on your day. "It might be a split of champagne or sparkling cider they can share when you make a toast."

9. Toasts - with a virtual wedding, it’s actually easier to get people to speak up, so take this opportunity to invite your wedding party and guests to make toasts. Just be sure to add a speaker sign up to your website or on social media, so you can plan the sequence. Philip White, founder of Philip White Weddings, says "we usually schedule in toasts for an hour after the ceremony in a second call/video stream. Once we've finished the virtual ceremony, we usually take a break and take photographs separately for an hour. When the couple are back in a cozy and warm place, we can then initiate the video feed again. Even if the virtual wedding is held at home, this gap just gives everyone a chance to have a little break."

10. Legal - while a lot of municipal offices have been closed, check with your local county clerk to see how you can make your marriage official. Most, if not all, are offering online options. Don’t forget about this part if you want to make it legal.

11. Bonus - CELEBRATE! Just because COVID19 has forced you to change your plans doesn’t mean this isn’t any less special. Wedding Planner Tionna Van Gundy reminds couples that "you are marrying your best friend, and everything else will fall into place." This is your DAY, soak it up and enjoy it!

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