You have dreamed of this beautiful and romantic time your entire life. Regrettably, the pandemic has changed your plans. Rules that limit the size of gatherings are currently in effect. Even when they are lifted, your vulnerable loved ones still may not be able to attend ceremony.
In reality, couples have always had to limit the number of guests they invite to their wedding. In the past, guest lists were limited by the couple’s budget and the venue’s capacity.
The good news is technology now enables you to invite everyone that you care about. Now more than ever, people have virtual guests at their weddings. Through careful use of smartphones or tablets, all of your guests can have a front row seat to your special day.
A Pro vs DIY
To have virtual guests at your wedding, there are two choices: hire a professional to do the live streaming or have it done by an onsite guest at your event. As a professional live-streaming service provider, I will share a few suggestions if you decide to do it yourself.
Some popular social media platforms that receive streams are Instagram, Facebook, Periscope, You-Tube, Twitch and Zoom. Each has different rules and different levels of privacy for your stream. Familiarize yourself with the policies of your streaming platform well before your event.
A word of caution about streaming to You Tube: If you play or sing any songs in your event (except those that were written by you or a guest) your stream may eventually be flagged as containing copyrighted music and removed. Keep in mind that although you can stream your event to You Tube, you may not be able to store it there.
At the end of the livestream, the cameraperson will be given the option of saving the video to their camera roll. Once saved they can upload it to a website, a Google Drive or Vimeo for more permanent sharing.
Before the Ceremony
To start, tour your venue a few days prior to the wedding to find the brightest space. Good lighting is essential for quality video. For outdoor ceremonies, choose a location where the sun will shine on your face — not your back. If your ceremony is between 11 and 3:00 pm, when the sun is highest in the sky, consider a shady area or use a canopy. This will avoid shadows under your nose and mouth. If indoors, select a room with rugs or cushions. These items absorb sound and will minimize any echoes heard in your stream.
The biggest challenge is to make sure you have a stable Wi-Fi signal to your chosen social media platform for the duration of the ceremony. The streaming cameraperson (SC) should arrive early on the day of the wedding to test their cell phone’s ability to stream. Password-protected Wi-Fi gives the most reliable connection. The SC should set up a laptop near the cell phone camera tripod to test the stream using Wi-Fi from the room for a few minutes; the quality of the live stream can be checked on the computer. If there is a problem, they should try using their phone’s signal. If the stream fails again, or freezes at any point, use another guest’s cell phone camera that uses a different carrier, and perform the test stream again.
To prevent interruptions to the stream, the phone should be set to ‘Do not Disturb’ mode prior to the event. Sign into your chosen social media platform to schedule the stream at least 15 minutes before the wedding.
During the Ceremony
The most important rule for filming with a cell phone is that you hold it so the long side is horizontal – not vertical. The shape should be similar to a landscape printout as opposed to a portrait one. If you hold the camera upright, the livestream audience will see bars on the side, and much visual space will be wasted.
Stabilize the camera with a mobile phone tripod or a selfie stick propped up by a surface. This will prevent shaky footage.
It is important to remember that when streaming to most social media sites what your remote audience sees and hears is five-12 seconds behind you. During a stream to any social media platform, the SC should occasionally check the feed and the chat. Or, appoint another attendee to watch the feed to make sure the stream is good.
Zoom Caution: Mute Remote Guests
Zoom is closer to real time than the other live-streaming sites, and it shows the person who is making a sound. If your unmuted remote guest speaks, the main window in Zoom will show the person who made the sound. This could interrupt your ceremony and cause your remote audience to miss key moments. Thus, if you are streaming to Zoom, you should set up the meeting so that all guests are muted upon arrival. Once the Zoom meeting is running, the host can click on the ‘Manage Participants’ icon at the bottom of the screen. A pop-up window will show. At the bottom left of that screen click the button labeled ‘Mute All’. You should uncheck the box that allows guest to unmute themselves until the time that guests are singing or reciting.
After the Ceremony
Be sure to save the footage and the chat at your social media site. Both are priceless. Download the footage from the streaming site or your camera roll to a computer as soon as possible.
Avoid the common live-streaming problems by carefully following this guide. Your preparation will make your event joyous and heartfelt, for both your onsite and virtual audiences. Then you’ll be able to focus on what matters most: the love between the two of you and knowing that your friends and family are able to safely participate in your special day.