Livestreaming Your Wedding Gets Everyone in On the Act
Most weddings during the pandemic are, by necessity, more intimate and personal. But with livestreaming, you can retain this intimacy while also including more people than you likely had on your original guestlist.
Livestreaming the wedding for guests unable to attend has been a huge conciliation for couples. Rachel Shklar was married in November 2020 (with an original wedding date in May) and knew some family and friends wouldn’t be able to attend. “My grandmother is almost 90, and we have family in New Hampshire, West Virginia and California,” Shklar said. “They didn’t feel comfortable traveling, so I started looking for ways that they could still be part of our day. Streaming our ceremony live was a great solution.”
With gatherings in many places restricted to small numbers and travel bringing with it some risks, livestreaming weddings is quickly gaining popularity. It’s still a new and everchanging option, though, and there are a few things to consider before deciding to go live on your wedding day.
Hire a Pro
If you hire a livestreaming service, they take care of everything and you pretty much just bring your beautiful self. You only get one shot at getting this livestream right, so enlisting a company with the knowledge, experience and proper equipment is well worth it.
“This is not the time to cross your fingers and hope that the cell tower will come through,” said Scotty O’Brien of Visionwork Group and Sunshine Entertainment, a 15-year veteran of livestreaming events. “You want something polished. We meet with clients in person, discuss your wedding day and your expectations, we precheck the venue, the upload speeds and everything required for the day to run smoothly.”
The biggest difference between a professionally livestreamed event and doing it yourself is the quality of the sound. “Sounds capture isn’t as easy as you might think,” said Jeremy Minnerick at Livestream Love StL. “Hiring a professional gives you audio as high in quality as in a real film.”
Usually, the celebrant and the groom are fitted with microphones, and many couples choose just one camera for their livestream. But livestreaming companies can provide multiple cameras if you would like more than one angle.
In addition to much better sound, there are other elements of livestreaming we novices would probably never think about. “We handle all the details: set up the
cameras at the best angles and we have a producer for the video,” said Josh Horn of Professional Production Enterprises (PPE). “We can mute audio if we need to mute licensed music and can replace it with music we have, so there’s less risk of your livestream being taken down.” PPE livestreams on YouTube, so it can be viewed live and after the wedding, whenever you want to relive the big day. They can also edit it afterwards to put an even cleaner version back on YouTube.
Talk with your team
Talk to the people at your venue to see if they are already set up for livestream and to check on their high-speed internet connection. Also let the celebrant know you will be livestreaming the wedding, as well as notifying any singers, musicians, DJs, and in-person guests. Also, tell your in-person guests at what time the livestream will begin.
Angela Marie Rocchio is a soprano soloist in St. Louis and has learned a great deal since she began singing at livestreamed weddings and celebrations. Her first time, she rehearsed a complicated piece and sang her heart out. It sounded beautiful to all that were present, but when she watched her performance at home on video, there was nothing. No sound. She realized that by stepping away from the microphone and relying on the acoustics of the room, the crew couldn’t capture and broadcast her singing. “Now, all my music planning packages include a consult with the couple, the livestream operator and the videographer, if there is one. About half of the weddings that I sing for now are livestreamed, and with planning and communication, have all gone very well,” Rocchio said.
Rehearse and troubleshoot
It’s important to do a run-through on the day of the wedding, to determine where the camera(s) will be and check the audiovisual equipment. “Even the pros sometimes need to make minor adjustments once we are on-site,” said Minnerick. “The potential for problems and our ability to troubleshoot is another big reason to hire a livestreaming company.”
Rocchio agrees that just like you have a rehearsal for your ceremony, you need to have a practice run of the livestream, both the sound and the camera. “I recently saw a livestream ceremony at which an amateur cameraman was not practiced at focusing the lens,” Rocchio said. “Unfortunately, the picture was so blurry that I couldn’t even see the bride’s face as she came down the aisle.”
Think of your viewers
Envision your guests at home, excited to tune in to your wedding. Will Grandma be able to easily find and join the livestream? “I really tried to think about what was required of the end user, and consider peoples’ familiarity with technology,” said bride Rachel Shklar. Shklar hired Livestream Love StL who created a simple URL, and her guests just had to click on one link to watch the wedding. “I think a link is the way to go. It was so easy for everyone.”
Shannon Searcy was a guest in St. Louis watching a wedding livestreamed from Dallas. She and her husband really enjoyed being able to see a wedding that they had planned on going to but decided not to travel because of Covid. “It was fun to see the ceremony, and to see family that we hadn’t seen in awhile. It really felt like the excitement of a regular wedding,” Searcy said. But the marrying couple chose FaceBook as their livestreaming platform, and Shannon wasn’t on FaceBook. “It wasn’t that big of a deal, but I had to join FaceBook just for this wedding. The bride is my one ‘friend’.”
Scotty O’Brien with VisionWork Group says you can customize a webpage linking to the livestream, like “lauren&brian.com” with your wedding colors, themes, and lots of other ways to personalize it. “We can add links to your registry, a link to a charity you may want to donate to or a countdown to your wedding date,” O’Brien said. “The possibilities are endless, and are very easy to access for the in-person guests and those watching from home.”
Interact with your virtual guests
There are many ways for your virtual guests to contribute to the day, in addition to watching it. Newlywed Rachel had a “virtual guest book” where guests watching the livestream commented during the ceremony and some send photos of themselves as they watched, and noted where they were viewing from. “It was fun to look back at the guest book after the wedding and see who tuned in and to read their sweet comments,” said Rachel. “They were really happy to be able to still be a part of it.”
Some guests like to dress up as if they were there, or make an impressive display of food and send photos of their efforts. “But we enjoyed watching the wedding wearing our pandemic sweats,” Shannon Searcy said.
Couples can even go a step further and have a guest be part of the ceremony or reception, says Scotty O’Brien. “You can incorporate a live speech from someone who is watching, or a faraway relative who is musically inclined and would like to contribute a song,” O’Brien said.
Livestream is Here to Stay
Livestreaming has become a wonderful solution for weddings in these challenging times (as well as for funerals, which the livestreaming companies mentioned here, as well as singer Angela Marie Rochhio, also provide their services for). They all agree that livestreaming will remain popular even when we can get back to more traditional celebrations.
The demand for livestreaming is growly so quickly that Josh Horn at PPE and other companies are working on forming a trade organization in St. Louis for professional livestreaming providers. “It’s so new that we aren’t yet organized locally, but we will be soon, to create industry standards, which will also benefit our clients,” Horn said.
Jeremy Minnerick sums up how livestreaming has filled such an important role this past year: “With Covid, one of the most important things we’ve lost is our common rituals, events that bring folks together to celebrate or mourn, like weddings and funerals. Livestreaming can bring people together to celebrate who cannot all be in the same physical space. One of our clients called it a ‘fantastic alternative’ and thanked us on behalf of some relatives who really wanted to be there.”
Interested in livestreaming your wedding? Check out this video from Visionwork Group.
Special thanks to the professionals who contributed to this story. To learn more, contact:
Written by Jennifer C. Frakes