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.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 21, 2020.

Audrey Carleton, The Canadian Press

Weddings

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, receive flu shot. Photo via Government of Alberta
COVID-19: One more death in central zone

Ponoka County on province’s watchlist

Many rural municipalities were concerned about a proposed reduction to their industrial revenues, but Alberta’s Municipal Affairs minister has come up with an alternative solution. (Photo contributed)
Province and rural municipalities agree on a plan to support Alberta’s energy industry

Creating new wells or pipelines would result in a three year ‘tax holiday’

East Central Express also offers wedding or event shuttle services and tours of the Rocky Mountains. Photo courtesy of East Central Express.
On-demand bus service will now stop in Lacombe

As the winter months arrive, Rob Duncan expects demand for his bus and taxi services to grow

The influenza vaccine will be available at no cost starting Monday in Alberta. “The more that we can avoid influenza-related tests, emergency visits and hospitalizations, the stronger our system will be to support those with COVID-19 and all other health needs," says Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Hinshaw urges Albertans to get flu shot as COVID cases jump by 332

Alberta’s central zone now has 132 active COVID-19 cases

A new biorefinery that will turn organic waste into natural energy was announced in Lacombe on Oct. 15. From left to right: Steve MacDonald, CEO of Emissions Reduction Alberta, Grant Creasey, Mayor of the City of Lacombe, Ron Orr, MLA for Lacombe-Ponoka, Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks and Chris Thrall, President and CEO of BioRefinex Canada Inc. (Photo Courtesey of The City of Lacombe)
Lacombe to become world’s first site for a new type of clean energy facility

A biorefinery will be built in 2021 creating temporary and full-time jobs, the province announced.

In this photo provided by Shannon Kiss, smoke from the CalWood Fire billows, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, as seen from Gunbarrel, Colo. (Shannon Kiss via AP)
‘First guys out:’ Western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

robbery
UPDATE: Suspect identified in early morning shooting

Rimbey RCMP had responded to a complaint of an armed robbery at the Bluffton City General Store

Executive Director of Agape Kate Halas (left) receives $1000 from Sgt. Eric Christensen (right) on behalf of Agape. Photo/ Shaela Dansereau.
Former Wetaskiwin Peace Officer wins provincial award; gives back to Wetaskiwin community

Eric Christensen has won the Alberta Association of Community Peace Officers Award of Excellence.

Agriculture Minister Devin Dreeshen (Alberta government photo)
Big boost for Alberta college agriculture research

The $2-million agreement to benefit Lethbridge College’s applied research team

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Canadian couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Employee Sophia Lovink shows off a bag of merchandise in Toronto on Thursday, June 11, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Canada gets C-average grade on 2nd year of cannabis legalization

Cannabis Council of Canada releases report card on federal government and legalization

Canadian and American flags fly near the Ambassador Bridge at the Canada-USA border crossing in Windsor, Ont. on Saturday, March 21, 2020. Restrictions on non-essential travel between Canada and the United States are being extended until at least Nov. 21. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rob Gurdebeke
Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

The restrictions do not apply to those providing essential services in either country

(The Canadian Perss)
Banff wolves have lower survival rate due to hunting, trapping outside park boundary

Researchers looked at 72 radio-collared wolves in the national park from 1987 to August 2019

Most Read