Every wedding guest list has a few of them–loved ones who can’t get themselves to the chapel for the service. Be it the elderly aunt in Boulder who doesn’t travel anymore, the young cousin who’d rather use her spring break to go to Cabo, or the friend who’s just had a baby and needs to be at home, few couples get perfect attendance for their big day.
And yet one of the most exciting things about getting married is the way it brings friends and family together–you get to see all the people closest to you, party with them, and receive advice and congratulations. You get to look into their faces and think about how far you’ve come together. That’s the dream, but as we just pointed out, it often doesn’t happen that way. People are spread out now, they’re busier than ever, and plane tickets (and hotel rooms) are expensive. Skype weddings solve all those problems by letting guests contribute from afar. And the concept is gaining in popularity.
We’re not quite at a point where couples can say their ‘I Do’s’ from opposite sides of the globe–virtual marriages are allowed in very few states, and only under very rare circumstances, although it is done overseas–but everyone else involved in the wedding is free to join in online.
With a few webcams–could they become the wedding favors of the digital age?–a free Skype group video chat, and a little extra planning, a local wedding could have a national audience.
Live Streamed Wedding Ceremonies
The most common version of the remote wedding revolves around accommodating absent guests. OffBeatBride.com features a range of settings and tech setups that have been used in previous online weddings. Most of them, however, use one-directional live streaming that allows an audience to watch in real-time, but removes their option to speak now or forever hold their peace.
On a live stream, every viewer just needs internet access and the right link to follow along at home, even if the audience stretches into the hundreds. With a video conference, however, each remote audience member, or small group of members gathered around a shared screen, needs their own webcam and microphone. The easy answer is to just prop a laptop or tablet somewhere near the bride and groom and have people join in using the built-in cameras and mics of their own laptops and smartphones. The default audio and visuals on those devices, however, pale in comparison to the dedicated features of standalone webcams.
The good news is an HD quality webcam now costs less than $50. Since the remote audience won’t need to be catered for in any other way, why not send them a personalized webcam as both an access point and souvenir from the wedding? Not only does the gift get the guest online, but there are specialized Skype cams that ensure all the necessary tech works together with minimum fuss during the service. With that added peace of mind, it’s on to the ceremony.
Setting Up a Skype Wedding
Once the remote guests have received their engraved/themed webcams it is just a matter of letting them know how and when to wait for their call to join the ceremony. To make things easier on guests, the initiating call should come from the venue, leaving them to just accept the call. Skype’s free service can accommodate up to 25 video callers, which, if allowing for multiple parties to use a single connection, should be ample. It could even cater for the entire audience, especially if the bride and groom have a hard-to-reach destination in mind.
A single group chat can also allow for multiple on-site cameras to be deployed around the ceremony to present different angles on the nuptials. With a few laptops hooked up to webcams, the remote audience would be able to view several chat windows, each with a different focus, so everyone could get a good look at the bride, the groom, the celebrant, the aisle, and the in-room audience.
So now all those (literally) distant relatives can attend even the most remote of destination weddings, and still get a chance to speak to the bride and groom on their big day. The wedding could also recreate the traditional meet and greet by the newlyweds before the reception. The couple would simply take a seat in front of a webcam and navigate their way through each chat window to tell the remote guests how glad they are that they attended (virtually).
The webcams could even be moved on to the reception, so that remote invitees could stick around to hear a speech or two, or even deliver one themselves. But unfortunately, while video conferencing can broadcast the best man’s speech across the country, it can’t get rid of those slightly off-color jokes and that embarrassing anecdote.