It's hard to believe that just last year, Zoom was primarily used as a productivity tool for companies with remote workers — now, brides and grooms everywhere are using this program to safely share their nuptials with loved ones near and far. In many ways, a virtual wedding has become the "new normal" for those couples who simply aren't willing to wait until the pandemic passes to say "I do." And fortunately, experts agree that there are a ton of tips for making a Zoom wedding feel special, despite the fact that your friends and fam might not all be physically present on your big day.
Given that many states and cities are still prohibiting large indoor (and in some cases, outdoor) gatherings, a virtual ceremony and reception have proved to be the perfect solution for couples who want to keep their original date while also protecting their loved ones. While the health of friends and family may be top of mind, experts say there are other benefits to Zoom weddings as well.
"Your guests will more than appreciate having an option where they can support you but also feel comfortable and safe doing so," explains Caroline Creidenberg, founder of Wedfuly — a professional virtual wedding planning company that works with Zoom. "On top of that, you're having a wedding that is potentially a zero-emissions event. We rarely think about how wasteful a wedding can be — from the food to the flowers to the planes, trains, and automobiles it takes to get people in one place."
Creidenberg also notes that when guests are sitting in a crowd of 100+ people, they can't really see the couple's facial expressions, whereas with a virtual wedding, they're privy to all those emotional moments up close. On top of that, she says many couples ultimately feel that their virtual wedding felt more intimate than an in-person wedding with hundreds of guests — which allowed them to focus on what matters: their love for each other.
If you're planning a Zoom celebration, here are wedding planners' top tips for making the festivities just as memorable — if not more so — than if you hosted the bash IRL.
Come up with a dress code.
TBH, your guests will probably be psyched to have a reason to get out of their quarantine loungewear and dress up for a change.
Alicia Fritz, wedding planner and founder of A Day In May Events, recommends encouraging your guests to follow a certain dress code. Whether you opt for boho black tie, luxe loungewear, or island chic, a dress code can not only make the occasion feel more festive but also make any screenshots or footage from the Zoom session look more cohesive.
Share as much info as possible.
Be sure to post as many key details about the virtual celebration as possible so your guests know what to expect ahead of time.
"The opportunities are endless for sharing your celebration," says Fritz. "Use your wedding website to share a playlist of your special songs, photos of your love story, and even your wedding ceremony order for guests to follow."
If you're open to sharing them, Fritz suggests posting your vows on your website so guests can read along and absorb them more fully during the ceremony.
Craft a custom meal delivery.
Elizabeth Tulipana, wedding planner and founder of Anticipation Events, says that when the pandemic hit, she came up with the idea for sending guests an 'unanticipated' event box — which could include party favors, some hors d'oeuvres, and/or some beverages to toast with.
"We love the idea of sending a custom package before the wedding with a copy of the wedding program, some confetti to throw as you kiss your spouse, and a sweet treat to enjoy post-ceremony," she tells Elite Daily. "With everyone being at home, a fun surprise piece of mail is a total delight."
Fritz adds that this "party in a box" idea can include a wine split with food pairing recommendations if the plan is to have people virtually dine together.
Do a collaborative video.
Another way to get attendees involved, according to Creidenberg, is to have them put together a video to stream during your wedding. Encourage all your guests to send in clips that either consist of special video messages to you as a couple, or feature memories with you and your spouse-to-be.
"Play them all strung together during the wedding," says Creidenberg. "You'll be laughing and crying and your guests will be so excited to see themselves on the 'big screen.'"
Engage your guests as much as possible.
Just because your guests are tuning in from a distance doesn't mean they can't join in the festivities.
"I think the best way to make the celebration feel special over Zoom is to incorporate the virtual guests as much as possible," Creidenberg tells Elite Daily. "Don't just make it a 'viewing' moment — have them give readings, toasts, and speeches. The more involved they feel, the more loved you'll feel."
Creidenberg added that in a recent wedding she helped to plan, a 94-year-old grandfather gave a reading and being able to participate brought him so much joy.
"He kept joking that he was awaiting his Oscar for his big moment!" she says.
Consider multiple receptions.
If you have a large guest list for your virtual wedding, Fritz recommends hosting a series of smaller receptions with guests in similar social circles.
"That way, you have more time to chat with each of them — just like you would in person sitting at a table over a meal," she explains.
Having some one-on-one time may make it feel more like an IRL wedding because you can mimic the tradition of making the rounds to greet all your loved ones at the various dinner tables.
Don't forget to dance.
What's a wedding without an opportunity to break it down on the dance floor? You may not be able to bust out your moves in the same room as your guests, but you can still incorporate this time-honored tradition into the celebration. Consider curating a special playlist with all your favorites, including any songs that have special meaning to you as a couple). Then, during the reception, stream it directly to your Zoom attendees via Spotify or Apple Music so you're all listening to the same tunes at the same time and can groove in sync.
"Lots of couples' favorite aspect is the group dance where guests around the world are dancing at home, getting spotlighted on the 'jumbotron,'" says Creidenberg.
Share a cocktail or cake recipe.
There's no reason why your attendees can't enjoy some of the same treats as you and your spouse-to-be. Why not craft a custom cocktail for your big day, and send them a recipe ahead of time so they can "cheers" you from afar? If your baker is willing to offer up the recipe for your wedding cake, you could share that with guests as well so they can whip up a miniature or cupcake version at home.
"Lots of people don't realize that just because it's virtual doesn't mean it can't be amazing," says Creidenberg. "In fact, I think we'll see this trend continue on even after the pandemic has lifted.
Creidenberg believes that virtual weddings are definitely the way of the future. After all, how many of your guests can say they attended a virtual wedding? So, think of it this way: By becoming a Zoom bride, you're a total trendsetter.
Caroline Creidenberg, wedding planner
Elizabeth Tulipana, wedding planner
Alicia Fritz, wedding planner