All About Virtual Weddings

Many couples are choosing to exchange their vows online - here’s why.



(Lital Israeli /

Everyone dreams about their special day, surrounded by friends, family, flowers, and food, exchanging heartfelt vows and making their marriage official. In the last four years, since the outbreak of COVID-19, many couples have opted to maintain the intimate and romantic atmosphere, but invite their family and friends to attend via the internet, instead of in person. Virtual weddings have surged in popularity as the latest wedding trend. But what exactly is a virtual wedding, and how do you organize one?

What is a virtual wedding?
The Courtly website explains the trend. Starting with the COVID-19 pandemic, when couples were concerned about social distancing, many young lovers opted for virtual weddings. The couples exchanged their vows, invited their guests, and hosted a ceremony all via a video-conferencing or live-video platform. 

According to Courtly, in 2020 nearly 34 percent of weddings were fully online or had a virtual component. Since 2020, virtual weddings have continued to trend because they provide a number of benefits for the newlyweds and their families.

The benefits of getting married over the internet
Courtly shares some of the benefits of going virtual for the big day. For starters, many couples have family and friends who live far away or have difficulty traveling. Weddings with a virtual element allow these guests to connect and celebrate with loved ones. Additionally, online weddings can be less costly than traditional marriages. They don’t require the couple to rent a large venue or hire a caterer. Not only that, but virtual weddings are often simpler to plan and easier to schedule.

Because virtual weddings don’t require family and friends to travel, not only is it easier for loved ones to attend, but it is also more environmentally-friendly. Think of all the emissions being saved by guests not having to fly across the ocean to join the ceremony. 

How to plan a virtual wedding
Planning an online marriage ceremony can be easier than planning a traditional wedding. But, there are some unique things to keep in mind when it comes to the logistics. For example, The Knot wedding site cautions that when guests from around the globe plan to attend virtually, it’s important to keep in mind that these guests may be participating from different time zones. So, if grandma lives in Hawaii, don’t plan the wedding for two AM Hawaii time.

Setting up a website for updates and instructions related to the wedding is a great way to keep all the guests on board about timing and changes. Additionally, wedding invitations can be sent via email or a different online platform. 

The Knot also recommends making sure all the electronic equipment is set up in advance of the ceremony. For an online wedding, a couple will need to ensure that their sound, video, and wifi hardware is adequate. Wedding planning Mona Hirata-Sung tells The Knot, “Test the wifi capabilities at the wedding venue in advance. If the bandwidth is insufficient or if the wifi capabilities are "spotty," you can then consider bringing in a separate hotspot. Having stable and solid wifi is key to the success of your virtual wedding and to ensuring that your remote guests can enjoy your day with you to the greatest extent possible."

Hirata-Sung adds that couples need to choose where to host their wedding online. The two options include a live-video platform, like Facebook Live, or a video-conferencing website, like Zoom. These platforms differ by how many guests can join and to what extent they can interact during the ceremony. To ensure the equipment works adequately, Hirata-Sung suggests giving it a dry run in advance. During the practice session and the wedding itself, she also suggests deputizing a point person for tech issues that come up. 

“Have a dedicated person or professional serve as the streaming administrator," Hirata-Sung explains. "This person can be there to help guests with questions, and can mute and unmute microphones. They can also choose the appropriate feed to show if opting for a more robust, multiple camera production."  The point person can also troubleshoot issues with guests’ ability to connect.

Wedding activities
The other logistics piece that wedding planners need to tackle is how to engage guests. There are a number of ways to keep guests connected and ensure virtual participation (the ceremony should be shorter though, because the “virtual attention span” is less the in-person attention span). For example, wedding planners can have guests pre-record messages or add video to a slideshow. 

Guests can also participate during the ceremony itself with virtual speeches and virtual toasts. Couples using a video-conferencing platform might want to hire a virtual emcee.Other suggestions for allowing guests to participate include shipping foods to local guests so they can enjoy the meal alongside the happy couple, and having a virtual “dress code” for the wedding that focuses on the upper body that is visible to the camera (for example asking guests to wear fancy or creative earrings or hairstyles).

Getting legally married
The Knot points out that those who choose a virtual ceremony will still need to register their marriage with their state or local township in order to gain the tax, healthcare, and legal benefits of a marriage.

A representative for the American Marriage Ministries told The Knot, "Marriage laws and officiant registration requirements vary drastically from state to state (sometimes even county to county). Couples really must proceed with caution and do additional research. It is possible that some offices will make exceptions on a case-by-case basis, given the current state of affairs, but couples should not assume that internet weddings will be considered valid according to their local marriage laws."

The future of virtual weddings
Online weddings are a current trend and offer a number of unique benefits. And, it’s possible in the future this trend will only continue to gain steam, suggests Courtly. In the future, augmented or virtual reality may make it possible to have a wedding in the Metaverse that is similar to a traditional wedding, but do so with all the benefits of the online marriage. 

Embracing the charm and convenience of technology, virtual weddings offer a unique and heartfelt way to celebrate love in the digital age. They allow couples to share their special day with loved ones, no matter the distance, creating beautiful, memorable moments that are just as meaningful as traditional ceremonies. 

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