(The Canadian Press)

Livestreams, meal deliveries and ‘zoombombs’: How to hold a virtual wedding

Livestreams, meal deliveries and ‘zoombombs’: How to hold a virtual wedding

Matthew Huntley and his wife were in the final stages of planning their May 2020 wedding when COVID-19 hit.

By mid-March, the Fredericton, N.B.-based couple had already paid for their celebration in full, moved their date once, and spent an estimated “600 days” preparing, Huntley says. So when restrictions on large gatherings and inter-provincial travel were imposed, the pair weren’t ready to give up. Instead, they opted to hold a small ceremony in a friend’s backyard with a few guests in-person. The rest tuned in via Zoom and Facebook Live.

“We wanted to get it done,” Huntley says. “It was just a little easier just to do it now. It’s about being married, it’s not about anything else.”

The duo are among countless couples who, in recent months, have faced the seemingly impossible decision to change longstanding plans for one of the biggest days of their lives. While many couples across Canada have opted to reschedule their weddings and hold out for the day they can safely celebrate in person, a handful are leveraging technology to recreate this magic online.

But Huntley cautions other couples going the Zoom route to be protective of their privacy. The end of his own wedding was ‘zoombombed’ — infiltrated by malicious hackers in other parts of the world, who replaced the ceremony feed with disturbing images — and he’s spent the weeks since trying to get his $20 subscription fee refunded.

“Thank goodness we had our friend [running Facebook Live] as well,” he says. “So, we have that memory and it got all of it, from start to finish.”

The pair are still planning to hold an additional in-person celebration next year in the venue they’ve already paid for. And they managed to keep their remote ceremony relatively low-cost, as friends offered up space, food, and decorations for free as wedding gifts. Their photographer, who’d already been paid $200 for the night, was eager to show up after losing a number of other gigs to cancelled ceremonies this season. Huntley’s wife purchased a new weather-appropriate wedding dress for an additional $600, plus alteration fees, and her best friend made the pair a cake.

Beyond the technological challenge of configuring a livestream, virtual weddings are typically much easier to plan than traditional weddings, says Toronto-based wedding planner Trevor Frankfort.

“You’re not planning for hundreds of people … you’re really just kind of tailoring it to yourself,” Frankfort says. “You don’t really need all the food, you don’t need the band, you don’t need any of the bells and whistles that come with having the wedding at an actual venue.”

The legal requirements of a wedding — like an officiant and pair of witnesses — are still necessary to ensure that the matrimony holds up in court. But beyond these staples, going the virtual route can be a low-cost, low-stakes way for couples to safely celebrate their love with friends and family.

However, those looking to add additional touches can get creative. Frankfort has seen some clients send champagne and other celebratory trinkets to guests for opening mid-ceremony. Others have hired caterers to deliver pre-prepared meals to guests to eat while livestreaming and conversing with one another. Much like at a traditional wedding, the possibilities for pampering attendees are limitless, and can cost as much or as little as the couple-to-be can afford.

“You can do a cute little package for under $30; you can also do one that’s more elaborate for anywhere upwards of $100, it really depends,” Frankfort says.

He notes that couples with additional room in their budget may consider hiring a professional videographer to run a high-quality livestream through a personalized website with secure software. A service of this kind starts at around $3,500, Frankfort says.

“Considering how much you’re saving on having the wedding in a venue, maybe this is a way you want to splurge,” he says. “To make sure that people can see it from overseas, or even locally.”

Frankfort urges couples considering virtual ceremonies to think critically before committing to hosting a virtual wedding. While it’s an affordable option for those on a deadline, couples with time in their schedule may one day be glad they waited.

“Everybody wants to have the big party, everybody wants to have everybody together, family and friends,” Frankfort says. “If it’s not dire to have the wedding right now, then why not wait?”

While Huntley says he’s glad to finally be legally married, he’s still looking forward to uniting with loved ones at his “real” wedding next year.

“We want [our guests] there in person,” Huntley says. “We wanted everyone to be able to enjoy it with us… We are 100 per cent having another wedding. We’re having the big reception, the big everything. The big day.”

Audrey Carleton, The Canadian Press

CoronavirusWeddings

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

First downtown parklet patio installed on 1st Avenue

Social distancing regulations will determine the total seat count

LSS students make video to commemorate 2020 musical

The LSS production of Newsies was cancelled due to COVID-19

Local handyman crafts emergency float from recycled materials

Pieter Stegeman built Air-Float-One to keep himself busy during the pandemic

Tent Island closed due to neglect and abuse from campers

Illegal campfires common on Penelakut Tribe reserve land

VIDEO: Disabled Vancouver Island feline teaching foster kittens ‘how to cat’

Life goes from sour to sweet for Lemon, an adopted cat from B.C. SPCA Nanaimo

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Infamous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and other destinations

Battle of Fairy Creek: blockade launched to save Vancouver Island old-growth

‘Forest Defenders’ occupy road to prevent logging company from reaching Port Renfrew-area watershed

COVID-19 could mean curtains for film and TV extras

Background performers worry they’re being replaced by mannequins on film and TV sets

Laid-off B.C. hotel workers begin hunger strike demanding job protection

Laid-off workers not sure what they’ll do when government support programs end

‘Huckleberry’ the bear killed after B.C. residents admit to leaving garbage out for videos

North Shore Black Bear Society said it was local residents who created a ‘death sentence’ for bear

Researchers find cannabis use in pregnancy linked to greater risk of autism

Researchers caution findings only show association — not cause and effect

Small Manitoba town mourning after well-liked teens killed by tornado

Melita residents feeling profound grief after the deaths of Shayna Barnesky and Carter Tilbury

Antonio Banderas says he’s tested positive for coronavirus

Acclaimed actor celebrating his 60th birthday in quarantine

Most Read