Lawson Baker + Kennedy McDaniel, 08/08/2020, Joshua Tree, California
LAWSON'S VIRTUAL WEDDING GUIDE
Weddings are special, and a virtual wedding should be no different. When Lawson and Kennedy decided to
carry on with their plan to get married, they didn’t want it to be any less-special just because it would take place
via the internet.
Text a GIF for Save the Date
Yes, e-vites emails are easier but they lack anything
resembling a cool factor. The name "evite" alone feels
like Myspace. Make a GIF. Text it to all of your friends +
family. Takes a little more work but it's way cooler.
Upload a photo or video of you and your bride-to-be
to giphy.com. Add some digital swag to it. Download it.
Boom - you made your first GIF! Spare no emoji. Use
them everywhere - they are the universal language.
Create a Google Form or use Typeform to organize your
RSVPs. Text or email the RSVP link with your GIF. Done.
Buy a Nice Camera
Gear, gear, GEAR! Use the money you saved by going
virtual to buy your family a nice mirror-less digital camera.
Not only will your wedding stream look like a movie, but
the compliments will flow in every work Zoom video call.
It'll come in handy on your honeymoon, too.
Plug everything in. Ethernet, microphone, speaker, and
camera should all be plugged directly into your computer.
Why? Latency matters. Wires = fast.
Wifi + BlueTooth = slow. You'll lose milliseconds to each
wireless connection. Multiply that by each connection
type and anyone else talking at your wedding. Next thing
you know you are speaking over each other during your
wedding vows. They aren't being rude. That's latency.
Anyone with speaking parts should wire up. Smooth video
+ voices to follow.
To Zoom or Not to Zoom?
We looked hard at other video streaming platforms like
Hopin.to video conferencing platform. At the end of
the day, we choose Zoom because (a) it just works, and
(b) everyone helping us knew how to use the Zoom as
did most guests.
Make sure to upgrade your Zoom account to support
the number of guests and features you want (cloud
recording space needs to be over 1GB). You'll want to
record the session both to the cloud and ask a co-host
to record locally as well (higher quality). Set up your
event in advance with all the necessary settings to
thwart your nephew from "annotating" on the screen
or guests entering the event too early (enable waiting
Picking your Stream Team
Your stream team matters. These people will make or
break your virtual wedding, and they are your
Master of (Zoom) Ceremonies - The admin of your
virtual wedding should be the chief organizer. Think
director meets wedding coordinator.
Master MC - Your MC is probably the best salesperson
in your friend group or family. Sell ice, eskimo. Yea,
Internet Reverend - Your officiant, your priest, your
Internet Reverend. Ideally, this person is cool and really
knows you and your bride.
Master of Jams - Your DJ is your friend with the best
Spotify Playlist. Give them your desired vibe then let
their free spirits roam.
Prepare to Entertain!
When people sit in front of a screen, they expect to
be entertained. Fear not. Think of it like a wedding
strapped on top of a bunch of short skirts with lots of
great crowd reactions
Your Agenda Script
Write out a script to get an idea of who says what
when. People will turn it into their own but they need
a starting point. This will also help you get an idea of
wedding length. Shoot for no more than 30 minutes
for the wedding and 2 hours max for the entire event.
Instruction + Tech Support
Okay, this one may be overkill but it helped our guests.
Drop an agenda and a few easy to read instructions in
the mail. Your guests will thank you for the instruction
manual. Not everyone is living their work lives on
Zoom calls. And, grandma has no idea what you're
talking about. Make it easy for the newbies and the
pro's among your invitees.
Add Something Physical
Okay, we've been pretty digital this entire time but let's find something memorable. It's a special day. Let's make sure the special feeling comes through on both sides of the screen. Send some swag in a pre-wedding mailing along with instructions, the agenda, and other wedding day details. Print some stickers or make temporary tattoos with Inkbox.com to spice it up a little. Digital events need physical objects to tie emotion and, as a result, memories to an event.
Your Guest Book
Buy a stack of plain artist postcards and send them to your guests in the pre-wedding mailing along with a handful of colored pencils. We had an Art Brunch after the wedding. Pre-address the postcards and add a cool stamp so guests can just drop them in the mail. These postcards are your first wedding memories. I promise you'll love the diversity in what you'll get back. This is a sampling of our Art Brunch postcards. It's really fun to see the artist in everyone.
Your guests are your photographers. Ask them to take screenshots and selfies of their zoom. Capture their surroundings. Capture their experience. Your wedding is literally everywhere. Pretty cool, right?
Pro tip: Make sure to set your Zoom event settings to automatically record to the cloud to capture you and all of your wedding party and guest interactions. As the wedding couple, plan to record your video stream locally to your computer, as well. This will ensure you have the highest quality video and audio coming from all that sweet gear you just bought. Use Quicktime on your Mac or VLC on your desktop.
Wait! Don't forget an Intermission.
Planning a two-hour event takes a lot but imagine being the stars of the show, live on-screen with a hot mic for all 2 hours. Bad idea. After your Officiant introduces you to the crowd as Mr. & Mrs., walk down your aisle towards your video setup. Then turn off the mic. Turn off the camera. Take a 15-minute Intermission. Tell your partner you love them. Enjoy the moment. After intermission, jump back on screen with your guests for your reception. Which brings up the next item: Dinner Tables.
After our sunrise wedding and intermission, we made our breakfast live with our guests. We love entertaining friends at home so we recreated that experience for our wedding.
Breaking bread with family and friends is a hallmark of all wedding receptions. Don't miss this opportunity to eat with those closest to you. Create virtual dinner tables with Zoom's Breakout Room feature. While your guests are eating and hanging out “at the table,” you and your partner can hop through breakout rooms as a Zoom Co-Host.
It's not a wedding without a cake, right? But, your guests aren't all going to bake a cake, and good luck trying to get that many cakes delivered on time. Enter: the microwave cake. Include the recipe in the pre-wedding mailing you sent out so everyone has their ingredients ready on the big day. During the reception, cue to let people know when to make the cake, making sure you budget enough time for it to cool before there's any official cake-eating on-screen. Keeping things interactive, like making the cake, makes the event experiential and memorable for everyone.
We all have witnessed wedding toasts gone awry. Pre-recorded toasts are a great back up for an unexpected technical issue. More importantly, it makes the speaker to really think about what they want to say to you and your partner. That being said, live is better for toast. The emotion of the event can bring out the best in your closest confidants. Give them the stage.
Dancing & the After-Party
Okay, you made it through the wedding jitters. Past the technical hiccups of a live-streamed event. They will happen, keep the camera rolling. You're married. Now it's time to party.That's it.You are married. Congrats and dance your hearts out!
Lawson Baker-McDaniel and his wife Kennedy McDaniel-Baker are San Franciscans at heart but are living in Joshua Tree while they search for a place to call home in the desert. Lawson is the founder of Moneymail.ai, a digital goods based engagement company. Kennedy is the founder of Banting.co, delivering access to affordable insulin for diabetics. You can find them on twitter at (@lwsnbaker and @flumeleaper).