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What About Virtual Weddings?

In an interview with PromoLeaf, I shared my insights as a wedding planner who's written case studies about some couples who chose to postpone their wedding and some who decided the show must go on. Based on a recent study of their own, PromoLeaf, together with CensusWide, reveal what over a thousand people in the United States prefer when it comes to alternatives to postponing the wedding, like hosting a virtual wedding.

A groom proposes to his bride on one knee, both of them wearing masks, in front of a pile of toilet paper and Busch Light beers as he holds up a ring box containing a mini-bottle of hand sanitizer.
COVID-19 Era Proposal

Question: When asked how they feel about virtual weddings, 27% of survey respondents believed they're a great alternative to in-person weddings. Even more interesting, 35% said they're more likely to attend a virtual wedding because they normally wouldn't have been able to (due to lack of budget and/or the inability to get time off work).

With virtual weddings becoming more common, do you think people's preferences will change over time?

Answer: Absolutely! In my book, I also speak on wedding trends and logistical practices that will be on the rise in a post-pandemic world, such as getting a marriage license over the internet and making requests to videographers and planners for virtual components like 360-degree cameras and/or virtual reality goggles for guests who can't attend their events in-person. Moving forward, wedding professionals should expect to get requests about virtual components of the wedding to be implemented as part of their wedding services.

Question: When asked about what they'll miss about attending in-person weddings, survey respondents said they'll most miss in-person interactions such as hugging the married couple and friends/family (53%). 35%  of respondents said they'll miss dancing, followed by buffets (29%) and open bars (26%).

For those hosting virtual weddings, do you have any suggestions for ways to make them more engaging and fun to attend? 

Answer: I have more than a few suggestions that I share inside of my book. The couple can do a few things to accommodate their guests with food. "Consider selecting an assortment of recipes they can cook for your virtual reception. Give guests a heads up two to four weeks before your wedding date. This gives them a chance to stock their pantry, freezers, and fridges with the ingredients. Suggest recipes that mean something to you as a couple." Another bit that I advise for interactive couples is to give "guests a time range for suggested cooking or baking in their own kitchen. This informs a sense of the duration and flow of the event. It’s an activity you might particularly enjoy with your guests. In that case, give guests the option to cook or bake with you and/or one another over a video conference call. Among your suggestions, inform guests about what you plan to drink. You can choose fun cocktails or mocktails to recommend before, during, and after your wedding meal." For the dancing bits, I note that "at the intersection of entertainment and guest participation is a group dance. Think about the cha-cha slide, the cupid shuffle, and the Macarena. These are examples of dances that are easy to learn on the fly." There are also options to incorporate a garter toss and/or bouquet toss for guests to enjoy! Check out my book for another handful of options regarding music and video.

Question: Once a vaccine is available and people are able to gather in large numbers again, are there any new trends or changes that you think could potentially carry over? (For example, hand washing stations and temperature checks becoming more commonplace)

Answer: Those additional safety measures like handwashing stations and distancing-related signage will be enforced by the venue. It will be the couple's responsibility sometimes to provide additional signage if they so choose. However, it's possible that venues may offer wedding-style signage for couples to use on their big day. The wedding gown designer may offer bridal-style masks to match the wedding dress, and caterers may only offer butler passed hors d'oeuvres instead of buffet options. Some trends will actually come from the vendors this time rather than at the request of the couple due to liability concerns.

Question: What would you say is the most overlooked detail when planning a virtual wedding AND/OR what's your biggest piece of advice that you'd give those who are planning a virtual wedding? 

Answer: The most overlooked detail when you're planning a virtual wedding is the guest experience. If you didn't mind having any guests, then you wouldn't be planning a virtual experience for them. The guest experience, including the way the music sounds on their device, the way you invite them to interact on your wedding day, and the way you minimize technical difficulties, all of these become much more important in the seamless flow of your big day. The biggest piece of advice I can give folks who are planning a virtual wedding is the electronic or print version of the book Poise Over Panic: How to Plan a Wedding in a Pandemic. It's the world's first and only book about how to get you through pandemic wedding planning obstacles with flying colors, in every single wedding aspect you can imagine.

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