Flexibility within the changing wedding industry is key to a supplier’s survival. So let’s go with wedding size restrictions and take a positive look at how all suppliers can benefit from online weddings.
What is an online wedding?
There are two main definitions of an online wedding.
Increasing the guest list by live streaming events from the wedding day is one way of defining an online wedding. – this takes careful thought and planning but can be really effective.
A pure online wedding is where the couple is exclusively in their own space, the ceremony is officiated remotely and the guests attend virtually through a video conference platform such as Zoom. Again this takes careful planning, but don’t all weddings anyway?
Zoom weddings and elopements
Whilst in some parts of the world, marriages can be legally contracted via video conferencing, in the UK a couple still has to contract their marriage in person with a registrar or designated minister.
This may leave the couple wanting to create a more meaningful ceremonial celebration or “wedding”.
As an independent celebrant, I have had the honour of officiating a couple of full-blown online weddings and it opened my eyes as to how many wedding suppliers can still be involved in these internet elopements often conducted in the couple’s own garden.
How can suppliers get involved in a Zoom wedding?
The bridal couple still want to look amazing.
Wedding dress designers, wedding suit hire, groom’s outfitters are still very much top of any couple’s supplier list.
The ceremonies I officiated were attended virtually by professional photographers who dressed the laptop screen to capture the essence of the ceremony akin to a brand shoot.
International photographer Lara Onac is an expert in dressing the set and in turn uses the services of a florist to create beautiful still photographic memories that the couple can share, just as they would their wedding album from an in-person ceremony.
And of course, where social distancing permits, a traditional photographer can still capture the moment as the couple affirms their vows.
In all of my real online ceremonies, florists have been very much an important part of the event.
Dressing the set for the online photographer, dressing the actual ceremony space and supplying the bridal bouquet and boutonniere.
In fact, one of the best moments in a ceremony I officiated online for a vow renewal couple in North Carolina (I was in Spain) was when the bride “threw” her bouquet off-screen and her bridesmaid “caught” it – thrown off-screen and into shot by a third person. It looked awesome and created a great video moment!
How on earth can you include wedding cars in a Zoom ceremony?! Well, this is a slight cheat and may depend on the street where the couple lives… but just as the drive-by birthday was invented during lockdown, so you can have a very slow moving procession of guests driving past the wedding couple’s house.
Decorated vehicles or classic chauffeured cars are a wonderful way of guests attending a wedding celebration after the actual ceremony and keeps them safely distanced from each other.
Imagine a carnival cavalcade atmosphere! Sun roofs open! Music playing (cue the DJ suppliers?) as family and friends shout their goodwill messages to the bridal couple.
Wedding Cake Makers
Every ceremony I have officiated via Zoom has still ordered their wedding cake.
Top tip: encourage the couple to order an extra layer that can be sent out to all guests either to eat on the day of the ceremony (see caterers) or as a postal party bag item arriving after the wedding day.
Inventive couples wanting their Zoom guests to all share the same dining experience can work with caterers to send wedding picnics to their family and friends – obviously including a slice of wedding cake.
Everyone opens their gourmet packs at the same time, raises a glass of fizz and the Zoomed wedding feasting can commence!
Well any wedding, Zoomed or otherwise, is just a great big happy party without someone to officiate the heart of the day, the ceremony.
For an online ceremony, it is vital to choose a celebrant who is comfortable working with the technology at the same time as officiating the ceremony. As there are no physical boundaries to a Zoom wedding, this opens up your choice of celebrants worldwide!
There is still something very special about receiving an invitation through the post rather than by email.
A personal message sent out with the catering picnic is also a great way for stationery suppliers to contribute to a Zoomed wedding.
The online wedding needs as much organising as a traditional in person ceremony.
Couples need advising on extras such as the need to get recording permission from all attendees (best obtained at the same time as the RSVP). A wedding planner can help with decisions as to the best place for the ceremony with regards to recording – light and sound are critical, in addition to decorating the ceremony space itself.
And my favourite wedding planner for my online ceremonies, acts as co-host to admit guests that join during the ceremony, to coordinate screen sharing for audio or visual elements within the ceremony and critically, remembers to hit the record button!
Akilah Atiba-Davies is a London wedding planner and has some great advice for couples with a small wedding who want to extend their guest list.
“On a normal day, the ceremony set up is one of the most exciting elements your guests look forward to. They get to experience the full meaning of what your love is all about and the whole environment around them.
But, now that your guests cannot experience this in person, it is a fabulous opportunity for your wedding planner to pull out all of the stops and really wow your guests online.
Cue doves being released and dry ice reveal as you walk down the aisle!”
Technology needed to live stream weddings
Videographers and specialist live stream companies are surely going to thrive with reduced sized weddings. A couple wanting to share their special day with as many of their family and friends as possible will be looking for those suppliers marketing their skills specifically to the wedding market.
Including suppliers in live streamed weddings
“Surely you don’t want to worry about setting up the mics, cameras, lighting and letting guests into your own wedding day.
Although virtual ceremonies may be small in number of actual attendees, still treat it like all eyes are on you.
Leave it to the experts to ensure
- everyone can be heard (especially your celebrant and the bridal couple)
- guests online get the best view of everything and are shown all of the elements that make up the day – the beautiful cake, violinist, welcome signage etc
- readings or special messages from guests who cannot make it .
Your wedding planner can cue them in smoothly with no hiccups (it will be like they are in the room with you).”
The future of online weddings
Every cloud has a silver lining and I have a feeling that whilst weddings might be small in size for the immediate future and the future of online weddings themselves may be limited, vow renewal celebrations and great big wedding blessing parties might be the next big trend – so couples get to use our wedding supplier services TWICE!
Debbie Skyrme is an award winning destination wedding celebrant who specialises in online ceremonies.
Grateful thanks to these awesome suppliers:
Lara Onac Photography https://www.laraonac.com/
Savia Bruta Flor, Florist https://saviabruta.com/en/
Akilah Atiba-Davies Wedding Planner https://www.eventswithakilah.com/