It’s undeniable that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted almost every industry and virtually every aspect of our daily lives. While adults over the age of 65 are in one of the higher-risk groups associated with developing severe flu cases, this demographic is also at more serious harm of COVID-19 complications or even death. But of course, senior citizens aren’t the only ones who can suffer the horrible consequences of coronavirus transmission. And until there’s some kind of vaccine or cure developed, many Americans are being forced to exercise extreme caution — and cancel their regularly scheduled events for the sake of public health and safety.
Understandably, that’s resulted in a huge hit for the whole of the wedding industry. Although there are more than 130,000 limousines in service nationwide, most of us have no need to travel in style when we aren’t even leaving our homes for unnecessary trips. And with event venues being forced to cancel larger events due to coronavirus transmission concerns, it’s not surprising that betrothed couples are now scrambling to figure out a Plan B at the last minute.
For many, the obvious choice is to postpone their wedding for a date sometime in 2021 in the hopes of being able to book the same venue, use the same vendors, and bring at least some of the original vision to life by that time. After all, 63% of brides say they feel a lot of pressure to have the perfect wedding. Although postponing isn’t ideal, it’s often seen as the best option in order to save money and keep hope alive.
However, that isn’t the only alternative that many brides and grooms are exploring during this crisis. Those who have their hearts set on saying their vows on their original wedding dates are branching out and getting creative. Elopements have increased in popularity, to be sure, but that doesn’t really allow your loved ones to celebrate with you. And so, there’s been a solution developed especially for the digital age: virtual weddings.
Zoom isn’t just for awkward meetings with your coworkers anymore. Instead, you can use this platform (or another method of live-streaming or teleconferencing) to share your special day with the people you love from afar. Essentially, the couple can have a ceremony — either from their own home or at another location — and broadcast the experience live for their guests. You can even rent technical equipment for the occasion or you can just use your own; some couples have gone all-out with multiple cameras and fancy lighting rigs to make for a more cinematic experience. But even if you just have one webcam and a couple of ring lights from Amazon, your guests will be sure to love every minute.
Of course, you’ll need to make sure getting married via Zoom is legal first. New York and California already have laws on the books that allow couples of apply for their marriage licenses online, while Colorado allows you to apply via mail. If you’re able to get in touch with your county clerk’s office, they’ll tell you everything you need to know about obtaining a license. You’ll also need to find someone to officiate your wedding — and rules about that vary from state to state, as well. Once these legalities are checked off the list, you can schedule when you’ll live stream the big event.
You aren’t restricted to Zoom, either. You can also use Google Hangouts or the Live feature on Instagram or Facebook. There are also even more secure platforms you might consider using. Experts say that you should password protect your video conference room and refrain from posting it on any public wedding website. This gives you the opportunity to share privately (via a fun digital invite!) with your guests.
So once a soon-to-be-married couple decides on the location, the platform, and gets their equipment and documentation squared away, what’s next? It’s really up to you. Most couples are requesting their virtual wedding guests to dress the part, while some others even have champagne or wedding cake sent out to their guests. If you’re attending a virtual wedding, you should dress according to the couple’s wishes and adhere to the guest policy outlined on the original invite. (The good news is that, even if you weren’t granted a plus-one, it’ll be a lot less awkward celebrating by yourself when you’re in your living room!) You should also still opt to send a gift from the couple’s registry or mail a check they can open together. If you know you’ll be attending a Zoom wedding, go the extra mile and create a nice teleconferencing background for yourself. Even if it’s just a colorful curtain, it’ll look much nicer than that pile of dirty dishes in your sink does. You’ll also want to test out your own equipment in advance to ensure there won’t be any technical difficulties that could detract from the ceremony.
Other than that, prepare to have fun! Just because the ceremony has gone virtual, that doesn’t mean it’ll be any less meaningful or enjoyable. Whether you’re saying “I do” or you’re toasting to the newlyweds, a Zoom wedding can be a great excuse to celebrate during a difficult time in our lives.