The videoconference platform known as Zoom came to the rescue of countless individuals and organizations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Even today, people are choosing Zoom as their platform of choice for online wedding ceremonies — not only for health and safety reasons, but as a smart, convenient way to help people in distant locales participate in those ceremonies.
1. Plan and Rehearse Everything
A Zoom wedding requires just as much careful preparation as an in-person wedding, if not more so. Plan every detail thoroughly, from your desired visual theme to the vows you’ll exchange and the music that will accompany the ceremony.
Once you’ve actually assembled all the elements that will go into your Zoom wedding (including your video, audio, and connectivity technology), you’ll want to go through a detailed rehearsal, just as you would for a traditional wedding. When the big moment finally arrives, you’ll rest a lot easier knowing that you’ve accounted for every contingency.
2. Let the Sun Determine Your Zoom Wedding Schedule
Do you plan on setting your wedding ceremony indoors or outdoors? If you’ll be indoors, how will the sunlight streaming through the windows affect your onscreen appearance? If you’ll be outdoors, where will the sun be hanging in the sky as you exchange your vows or cut the cake?
Give careful consideration to these questions as you plan your ceremony’s location, setting, and time of day. Check local meteorology websites or consult sun-tracking apps to help you calculate these things in advance.
3. Send Your Guests What They Need (and Some Goodies, Too)
Zoom wedding guests need just as much advance notice as traditional wedding guests, and keep that information coming as changes or new details come to light. The easiest way to do this involves building a simple website that acts as your wedding’s “information station.”
You can tell the whole story of your love on the site, add your wedding music playlist or slide shows, and the complete, up-to-date agenda for the big day itself. Don’t share the Zoom link to the ceremony, though — send it to your guests privately!
If you really want to show your guests how much you care about their participation, send them a fun “wedding box” containing goodies such as post-ceremony treats, noisemakers or confetti to cheer the new couple on, and of course an official wedding program.
4. Prepare Your Ceremony’s Location and Background
Your wedding needs to look like the major life moment it is. You can conduct a Zoom wedding from any room in your home, from a church auditorium, or in the middle of Mother Nature. Just make sure that wherever you are, you have at least one (and preferably more than one) reliable internet connection method.
As noted above, you’ll want to orient an outdoor wedding location so that the sunlight complements you instead of obscuring or blinding you. Decorate your setting with flowers and other tried-and-true wedding arrangements to enhance the mood and recall traditional ceremonies.
Once you’ve got the setting just right, line up your camera to frame it properly, making any necessary adjustments to keep the lens level and at the proper height.
5. Come up with a Unique, Video-Friendly Dress Code
Zoom meetings have encouraged people to relax their mode of dress to the point that remembering to wear pants is pretty much the only consideration. Not so with your Zoom wedding! You and your spouse-to-be most need much encouragement to dress to the nines for your special day.
However, your guests need to think about this issue as well, since the whole lot of them may show up on the screen at points. To make that collection of image tiles look more uniformly stylish, decide on a dress code for your guests in advance and inform everyone when sending out the wedding invitations.
Don’t assume that you have to insist on plain old formalwear, either. If you’ve come up with a fun, festive, unique theme for your wedding, then it’s entirely appropriate to ask your guests to wear all purple or whatever other fun thing you have in mind.
6. Anticipate Guests’ Technical Issues
Inevitably, some of your virtual wedding guests will have more experience with Zoom, or with technology in general, than others. Do what you can to anticipate “user error” and take steps to prevent the preventable.
For instance, it’s all too easy for guests to forget to mute themselves during the ceremony, meaning that everyone else involved gets to hear their dog barking or their home repair team hammering away in the background. Nip this problem in the bud by muting everybody during the ceremony itself.
Point out to your guests that they can use the chat box to communicate privately and silently if need be. If a guest or other participant is scheduled to speak, remind them to unmute themselves first and then mute themselves afterward. You’re well advised to have a dedicated tech expert on hand to run this part of the show.
7. Engage Your Wedding Guests as Much as Possible
That bit above about muting and unmuting speakers matters because you’ll want to make your Zoom wedding an interactive experience for all concerned rather than a passive, one-way viewing.
Prepare a lineup of speakers to read favorite passages, give speeches, offer toasts, and play important parts in the big day. Throw an online reception to follow your wedding, or create multiple breakout rooms for little mix-and-mingle sessions.
8. Keep It Short and Sweet
The most effective Zoom weddings are brief, vibrant events. A shorter ceremony makes it easier for more people to attend from all over the U.S. or the world. It also reduces the odds that you’ll encounter a technical problem during that half-hour or so (some perfectly wonderful Zoom weddings take as little as 15 minutes).
Last but not least, a relatively short timeline will help you maintain the focus and attention of participants who aren’t physically surrounded by a wedding hall. This is where rehearsal can once again come to your rescue. You don’t want to be at the mercy of long-winded participants giving improvised speeches with no end in sight. If you plan on having guests participate in your Zoom wedding, insist on prepared speeches that fit predetermined time limits.
9. Complete All Legal Formalities on Time
You don’t just want to get married; you want to get legally married. Zoom weddings are just like regular weddings in that you’ll need to obtain both a marriage license and a marriage certificate.
You should also consider obtaining an apostille stamp. An apostille stamp attached to a marriage certificate or other critical document (such as a birth certificate) makes the document valid in every country belonging to the 1961 Hague Convention. If you plan on seeing the world together, take your legal marriage with you!
10. Hire an Online Wedding Specialist
If you’re already feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of planning your Zoom wedding, here’s one more tip that makes everything else a breeze — hire an online wedding specialist to handle all the details for you.
MarryFromHome can make sure your Zoom wedding goes off without a hitch, and manage all legal formalities for you!