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Event Inspiration/Articles/Tips/How to Plan Your Virtual Wedding: A Step by Step Guide

How to Plan Your Virtual Wedding: A Step by Step Guide

Everything you need to know to host a big day celebration online.

Alice Prendergast


There’s no doubt about it, planning a wedding in the midst of a crisis like COVID-19 is really difficult. You definitely can’t go the traditional route with your celebration plans, so you’re going to need to get creative and plan a virtual wedding if you want to get married in the near future. We’ve put together this guide on how to celebrate your big day while social distancing with an unforgettable virtual wedding. Now you’ll be able to throw an epic event in the comfort of your own home.

Here’s a step by step guide to planning a virtual wedding due to COVID-19.

Step 1: Plan an intimate virtual wedding ceremony

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to host a huge wedding, so plan an elopement style event with just a wedding officiant and witnesses and bring your friends and family along virtually. You can hire a musician to perform and a photographer/videographer to document your outdoor ceremony—if necessary, both can act as witnesses to stay within social gathering limits (note: this can vary by state, county, and city, so be sure to check your local guidelines). You’ll also need to check with your local clerk’s office on the legalities of obtaining a marriage license if you don't already have one.

If you live in New York State, Colorado, or Washington, D.C., there are now legal options for couples to obtain a marriage license online and have a wedding ceremony with everyone attending virtually including your officiant and witnesses. Alternatively, if you can’t get the legal paperwork organized but still want to proceed, you can have a virtual symbolic ceremony now and hold off on your legal union until social distancing rules become a little more relaxed.


Step 2: Choose a live streaming platform

During these trying times, you can’t ask your friends and family to break social distancing rules and celebrate with you IRL, but that doesn’t mean you need to fly solo on your wedding day. Once you’ve got your ceremony plans in place, you’re going to want to choose the best video chat app to live stream your wedding.

Zoom, Google Hangouts, Instagram Live and Facebook Live are all solid options, however, Zoom is the most popular video conferencing platform for weddings at the moment. Rather than simply broadcasting your “I dos”,  a Zoom wedding allows you to set up screen(s) for you to see your guests and interact with them too. If your officiant is remote, a family member is giving a reading from another location, or a virtual musical performance is planned, this functionality is essential. During the ceremony, you can have your guests set their screens to ‘speaker view’ and mute their microphones so they can enjoy all the action. Pro tip: we have these 5 Technical Checks for a Virtual Event

Step 3: Invite your guests

If you’re one of the many couples that have postponed your wedding, then you probably already have a theme selected. If not, choose one to set the tone for the event and inspire your invitation. Send out an email or e-vite with all the important details, including date, time, the order of events, and how to join the live stream. If some guests don’t live far, at some point during the itinerary, you could ask them to do a drive-by or walk-by visit and wave from afar (this is great for a moment like a post-ceremony confetti toss or first dance). 


Step 4: Make your home worthy of a wedding

Next up: making over your home and yard to be worthy of your big day. No, your abode probably won’t end up looking like the grand ballroom in a hotel or the rooftop of a trendy loft, so set realistic expectations, but don’t skimp on decor, either. Choose a style and roll with it—you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised with what you can achieve. This may involve a few Amazon orders, some Pinterest DIYs, and a little bit of TLC, but the end result will be well worth it. Oh, and don’t forget to clean, either!

Step 5: Wear your wedding attire

Nobody should be spending their wedding day in sweats, even if you are staying home for your reception! If you already purchased your wedding dress or suit before quarantine, you’ve got your outfit sorted. If not, you’re not up a creek without a paddle, so don’t stress. Check in with your local bridal boutique. There are innovative solutions being offered by wedding dress designers like Loulette Bride in Brooklyn. Their Home Wedding Package includes a one-day wedding dress rental, pair of white Loulette Lingerie panties, a personalized sketch of you in your rented gown, champagne, cake, and a bouquet. Or, you could order an outfit online (remember, it doesn’t need to be an actual wedding dress), or, if you want to be a bit more frugal, dig through your wardrobe to find something that suits the occasion. Heck, if you’re feeling super sentimental, it could even be what you wore on your first date. 

Step 6: Order flowers

Speaking of flowers, a beautiful bridal bouquet and boutonniere will make the occasion and photos of your virtual wedding that much more beautiful. Support your local florist and have them make up some arrangments. They’ll also brighten up your home for a post-ceremony staycation.

Step 7: Do your own glam

Once you’ve taken care of your outfit, your look isn’t completed—obviously, you need the hair and makeup to match! Since you can’t hire a glam squad to come to your home ATM, fire up your computer, find a beauty guru on YouTube, and get to painting your face and waving your hair. This is a great chance to take your favorite beauty tools and makeup palettes out of retirement for a hot sec (because let’s face it, they’ve been gathering dust during your quarantine).


Step 8: Stick to some wedding traditions

Your ceremony, no matter how small, will probably include all the stuff you’d have at a regular, non-virtual wedding (you know, vows, rings, a kiss), but you may also want to include a few traditions in your virtual reception, too. You can do a garter or bouquet toss, play the wedding shoe game and deliver some speeches to make it feel a bit more like a “normal” wedding. Don’t forget to share your wedding playlist with your guests so that they can join in, too.

Step 9: Share your first dance

Whether you’re surrounded by loved ones or not, you deserve to have your first dance. Choose a song, clear the furniture in your living room, and do a little two-step. Or, take it outside if you’ve planned for a social distance visit from nearby friends, family and neighbors!

Step 10: Hire some musical talent

To make your at-home virtual wedding ceremony and first dance even more memorable, hire musicians to perform virtually for you and your guests as you walk down the aisle or sashay across the living room floor. A harpistguitarist or pianist can really elevate the occasion and give you and your guests all the feels.


Step 11: Have an epic meal

OK, you probably had a pretty amazing meal planned for your wedding reception, and, good news, you can still have one in the comfort of your own home. If you hired a local caterer, you may be able to order single (or smaller) portions from them so that you can eat exactly what you would have on your big day. Alternatively, you could order from a local restaurant that serves up a similar fare or just get your favorite dishes from your favorite eatery.

Step 12: Make your own wedding cake (or get one delivered)

Want to have a bit of DIY fun in the kitchen? Why not try making your own wedding cake? We promise it’s not cheating if it comes from a box! If you’re not particularly gifted with a whisk and piping bag, you can always get a wedding cake delivered from a local bakery. If you already booked a wedding cake baker, ask them if they can make a mini-version of your chosen design.


Step 13: Document it

Like every major milestone in your life, you’ll want to document your wedding party. Even if it isn’t the celebration you’d initially had in mind, that doesn’t mean you should let it pass you by.  Remember to record your Zoom live stream, take pictures and shoot videos (even if you’re only working with a phone or computer webcam), so that you can remember how awesome your big day was. P.S. You can hire a photographer and take photos from a safe distance or, you can always get professional portraits taken later down the line.

Step 14: Make plans for later

Now, even if your virtual wedding was a major hit, you may want to make some plans for later (who doesn’t love more parties?). We don’t exactly know when quarantine will end, but keep your eye on the news, and when things are looking a little brighter, consider planning a follow-up event. You don’t need to re-do your entire ceremony, but having a vow renewal and hosting a reception with your nearest and dearest would be awesome.

Find virtual musicians and services in the United States and Canada on The Bash for your virtual wedding.

Published on 5/06/2020