Virtual weddings is this the shape of things to come?

Who would have thought that 6 months ago we would be discussing virtual weddings?

There is no doubt that the pandemic has caused a massive rift. When I say rift I mean it hasn’t just stopped things, it has potentially changed things and it may have done so in some way, forever.

The wedding and event industries have been without doubt amongst the hardest hit by the restrictions designed to control the pandemic. They rely on face to face contact and the coming together of groups of people. However, even under the restrictions many have learned to adapt and find ways in which to carry on, if not as before, then in another way.

Conferences, forums and even awards ceremonies have managed to try things in the virtual world which nobody thought possible 6 months ago. Some have been good and others less so. Technology aside, the main problem has been engagement and how it is kept.

One of the biggest lessons learnt of any virtual event and in particular virtual weddings, has been the clear need for a good facilitator who understands the time, and the limitations of any audience, keeping them engaged throughout.

Now for virtual weddings it is not quite as easy as a conference to do this. Yes you can have 30 people in a room and I am delighted to say you can link up to as many friends as you wish. However, it will be the dancing that is always going to be the bit you just cannot really make work quite as well in the virtual space.

Everything else however, you can.

Technology is such now that we can stream a wedding into your own living room. It is still possible to have 300 people with you as you say “I do”, although they may only be there on a screen. The possibilities are endless as to how far you go. Full HD treatment that is almost in the moment allows not only your geographically closest family and friends to join you, but also those who may not have been able otherwise to travel across the globe to be with you.

However, with everyone being a part of your day the important thing is you still have that one clear voice guiding everybody and the schedule must allow for more breaks to account for the fatigue that happens when viewing through a screen. That voice leads all, not only through what is happening throughout the day’s journey, but also controlling the invited interactions of others, who can send video messages and almost interact as if they were in the room with you. But without that all important facilitator it can get out of hand.

Over the past six months I have had the pleasure of running many City ceremonial events, facilitating many areas within a meeting. Each has been fun and although we cannot say as great as being with others in person, they have with the exception of the first event where many lessons were learned, all been fairly seamless, informative and very enjoyable for all. As long as we are stuck in this situation and as long as people do not have confidence to meet in any great numbers, then these events are here to stay.

The question is, even after we are back to some kind of normal where we are all happy to mix with each other again, is some of what we have got used to now here to stay for good

The answer is a resounding yes and nowhere more than in the world of the wedding audience. It was actually happening before “lockdown” whereby the aforementioned streaming was possible.  It was just that nobody was using it much. My recommendation is to check out E-There. (Other companies are available) Most would of course prefer to be there, but at least with E-There those who can’t physically, can at least be electronically.

There are massive advantages to this whether during, or post, pandemic and they include an instantly available recording as well as the chance for people to message you their wishes as well as video messages. It won’t be quite like the beautifully created video you will get from a videography team, but it will still capture your day and in some ways be better for many to view as they will be right at the front of the action and not necessarily in the back row.

Yes it isn’t quite the same there is no doubt, but it can also be a lot of fun for other reasons. The most important thing to remember is that if it is your wedding and you should still be creative and that will require a bit more planning in a different way.

You may have originally planned to have 300 people in person at your ceremony and then sat down for a meal. Virtually you no longer have to feed them. But how can you encourage them to still take part?

The wedding parcel is how. You could send out in advance a pack with things your guests will need on the day. (I suggest that alcohol if appropriate is left as the end users choice due to complications in sending) however, confetti, a full schedule of the day, a ceremony order and other fun props could be sent. How many of you I wonder have been to a wedding where the best man has put an envelope of pictures or other games to play on the table with “don’t open until instructed” clearly written on it? Clearly the same could apply in this case, with surprises that can happen for your virtual guests happening in real time.

There is no doubt that being with others in person rather than virtually will never be beaten for atmosphere, but we do now have the technology to be more inclusive than ever before.

vitor-pinto-3bAJYaK37yE-unsplash-200x300 Virtual weddings, is this the shape of things to come?

So if you are being bold and going virtual for your wedding through necessity or even choice remember, it really is possible to have fun in the virtual space, but you don’t want to be running it yourself. It is your wedding day, so the last thing you want to be doing is the production and compering of your day. Like an in person event where you may have a wedding planner and or a toastmaster or master of ceremonies it really does pay to use a professional facilitator experienced in virtual event production but who is also trained in one of the aforementioned roles.

Now I wonder where you might find one of those?!

If you are wondering where on earth you might find one of those, then get in touch and let me know how I can help, as even after we can meet up in person, virtual weddings are definitely here to stay.

James Hasler is the Man behind the Man in the Red Coat a London based professional toastmaster, master of ceremonies and charity auctioneer. He is also a professional event host, moderator and facilitator of events, both in person and in the virtual world with his company HaslerHill Consulting. Additionally he is also a presentation skills and public speaking skills trainer and Voice Coach. Finally he is a voice artist providing voice to all manner of productions and is regularly used as a “voice of god” type announcer at many large live events.