(The Canadian Press)

(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

Demonstrators lined Hwy 16 May 5 to mark the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (Deb Meissner photo)
VIDEO: Smithers gathering marks Red Dress Day honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls

Approximately 70 people lined Hwy 16, drumming, singing and holding up placards

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

The road to Telegraph Creek (Hwy 51) was closed April 15 due to a washout. On May 4, the road was opened to light-duty passenger vehicles during specific times. (BC Transportation and Infrastructure/Facebook)
Telegraph Creek Road opens for light-duty vehicles

Road has been closed since April 15 due to a washout

FILE – Residents of the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory southwest of Montreal continue to monitor a blockade leading to blocked railroad tracks that pass through their community as they protest in support of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs on Sunday, March 1, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter McCabe
B.C. Supreme Court rejects Wet’suwet’en bid to toss LNG pipeline certificate

Opposition last year by Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs set off Canada-wide rail blockades

On any given day, Brenda Mallory can be found holding court in her front yard on her acreage near Tyhee Lake. (Thom Barker photo)
Spice of Brenda: Our long-time columnist gets frank (when wasn’t she?)

Brenda Mallory has packed a lot of creativity into her life

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

At this Highway 3 check point, police officers will be asking for identification from drivers, documentation regarding the driver’s name and address, and the purpose for the driver’s travel. (RCMP)
No fines handed out at 1st COVID-19 roadblock as checks move across B.C.

Cpl. Chris Manseau says a total of 127 vehicles were stopped at a roadblock in the Manning Park area

A spectator looks on as the Olympic Caldron is relit in downtown Vancouver, Wednesday, February 12, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Small majority of B.C. residents in favour of a Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid: survey

A new survey shows a split over the possibility of public money being spent to organize and host the winter games

Most Read