Table of Contents
What Do You Need for a Zoom Wedding?
Should You Send Out Wedding Invitations for Your Zoom Wedding?
Do You Need a Wedding Photographer for Your Zoom Wedding?
What Zoom Settings Should You Have for a Zoom Wedding?
Zoom Wedding: Tips on How to Plan Your Wedding with Family & Friends
Unfortunately so many engaged couples have had the difficult decision on whether to go ahead with their wedding with a smaller group, postpone or completely change their wedding plans in 2020 and now into 2021. We’re so sorry that your special day couldn’t happen as you dreamed. We’re hoping that things can get back to normal soon for all of you that have been waiting it out. For those of you that decided you want to go ahead with an intimate ceremony with a Zoom wedding, we’re here to give you some tips that we’ve learned (from experience) on how to plan it.
My name is Ally, and I’m the graphic designer here at Sandpiper Studios. I live in Mississauga, Ontario, where we’ve been living under restrictions for a year now. My (now) husband and I got engaged in 2020, and decided we didn’t want the stress of choosing a date and making all the plans, only to have restrictions or a lockdown make us postpone our wedding at the last minute. So we decided to have a small ceremony at our church, five guests (based on restrictions) and a laptop with Zoom so we could share our special little wedding with our family and friends across the world.
I decided to write this blog to share my Zoom wedding experience with future brides and grooms. I want to give you tips on things I did, as well as things I could have done to make it even better!
The Must-Haves for Your Zoom Wedding
- A wedding license
- An officiant (like a minister, pastor, government official or a licensed wedding officiant)
- A location with a strong internet connection (either Wi-Fi or cellular data)
- A computer, phone or tablet
- A Zoom Pro account ($20 for a month) which includes 100 guests
- Two witnesses
- Wedding Invitations
The Nice-to-Haves for Your Zoom Wedding
- A tripod or mount to set up your device
- A wedding photographer (psst – Sandpiper Studios would love to photograph your wedding!)
- Music system
- Designated coordinator
- Unity ceremony (candles, sand or other)
- Personal vows
Did I mention we pulled it all together in less than 2 months? Whew. After we had our list, we started checking things off.
Location: Our first choice for our COVID wedding was actually going to be just a small civil ceremony at City Hall. This would allow us to legalize our marriage, and we could have a more traditional wedding ceremony at a later date when we can have all our family and friends together. But unfortunately they were closed for weddings because of COVID.
So we moved to our second choice, to have at our church. This made it a bit bigger of an event and more planning, but we tried to keep as simple as possible. We had discussed if we should find another location, maybe outdoors in a beautiful spot, but that risked last minute issues with the winter weather and no Wi-Fi, so we decided it was safer to choose the church.
Unity: We decided on the unity candle ceremony. The gold candle holders are from Michael’s and the wooden one was a custom made gift!
I would suggest looking for options earlier than later, so you can find deals and get your candle customized if you like.
(*Tip* – Choose candle holders that have the little spike in them to stick into the candle. Less worry for the lit candles to fall. Also – don’t forget to take the price tags off the bottom of the candle holder. When you lift them up to light the unity candle, you’ll see them – oops.)
Flowers: I decided to get a bouquet and a boutonniere for the groom. Flowers are expensive, but I’m glad I changed my mind and got them. Although I did forget them in the first few pictures – oops!
Songs: We chose 3 songs – 1 for my entrance, 1 for signing of the registry and 1 background song for everything else. We knew the sections of the ceremony (like communion and the candle lighting) where there wouldn’t be anyone speaking would be fairly short, so we were happy with a nice instrumental song for that.
Set-up: We went to the church to decide where our ceremony would take place, where we would set up the laptop and if we needed additional lighting and mics.
(*Tip* make sure to visit your location roughly around the same time as your ceremony if you’re doing outdoors or indoors with a lot of natural lighting)
Should I Send Out Invitations for my Zoom Wedding?
Guest List: We started putting a rough list together of family and friends that we wanted to virtually attend. We let our family and friends know our intended wedding date.
Wedding Invitation: Next I designed our wedding invitation that we would email out. (PS. I would love to design your wedding invite for you!) This was a little different than printed traditional invitations, but it made the most sense.
(*Tip* – provide a shortcode so your guests don’t have to type in a long URL. You can also copy and paste the link in the text you send them, so they can easily click it there too)
Because of COVID, we decided emailing/messaging our guests was a better option than mailing out the invitation beforehand. We knew there was a chance restrictions could change or something could interfere with our date.
This proved to be true, as there was a possible positive COVID case at the church a few days before our intended wedding date. Thankfully they were negative, and we were able to push our wedding to the following week. Although it was disappointing we had to postpone a day before the intended wedding, we were okay with it. We knew there was a risk for this and we were prepared. The only thing we had to pay for a second time was my flowers. And honestly the first bouquet held up fairly well in the fridge and we could have gotten away with using it the next week haha. The boutonierre was in perfect condition!
Do You Need a Photographer for Your Zoom Wedding?
Our decision to keep our intimate ceremony simple, short and inexpensive meant we didn’t hire a wedding photographer for the day. We knew we were going to get photos taken by Sandpiper Studios this summer, when we visited PEI. So we just had our family members that were present take some photos for us at the church.
This would be something I would have changed if I were to do it again. DO NOT skip on a professional photographer for your Zoom wedding! It may not seem necessary to you because everyone can see you on Zoom, plus you’ll have your family’s pictures – but unfortunately our iPhones don’t always give the best quality photo. And even me being a photographer’s daughter, it’s different when you’re the one in front of the camera, instead of directing and taking shots of someone else. So if you can find a photographer that offers an hourly rate instead of a full day – book them!
(Psssttt – if you’re getting married in PEI, Sandpiper Studios just released new photo & video packages for COVID weddings)
All You Need to Know About Zoom
Set up your account: I have the $20 Zoom Pro account that gives me 100 participants in a meeting. (If you need more, there’s a “Large Meetings” add-on for $67.) This gives you 1GB of cloud storage.
Next step for you to go through are all there settings. Go to your profile and click settings. There’s a lot to look over, but I’ve listed all of the ones I modified for our zoom wedding.
- Meeting section.
Waiting Room: Turn on. Everyone will go in the waiting room until you let them in when you’re ready.
- Schedule Meeting: Host video on. Participants video on.
- Mute: Mute all participants when they join a meeting. You can also control this once you start the meeting.
- Co-host: Turn on. This will allow you designate someone to control the Zoom meeting, if you want.
- Breakout room: Turn on. This is something we didn’t utilize, but it could have been useful. After our ceremony we were taking pictures and many participants started talking amongst themselves, saying hi! This would be a good opportunity to break out the guests into smaller groups so they can have better conversations, instead of many people talking over each other.
- Move to Recording settings section.
Cloud Recording: Turn on. Record everything – active speaker, gallery view, record active speaker, gallery view and shared screen separately with all those checked, record an audio file, save chat messages. Display participants’ names in the recording and record thumbnails when sharing.
Zoom Test Run – Practice, Practice, Practice!
After you have set everything up, I suggest you, your partner and any coordinators or co-hosts have a test run for everyone to familiarize themselves. Make sure you understand how to mute all participants (without the option of them unmuting themselves). And then how to unmute them. We had everyone muted until the end of the ceremony where we came over and could see and talk to everyone.
It’s also very important to make sure your family and friends know how to log in to a Zoom call. I suggest having a test run a week before so everyone can test logging in and making sure their video and audio works. It’s very stressful if people are having trouble and trying to contact the bride & groom a few minutes before the ceremony starts. Choose Google Chrome over Safari for less risk of problems.
Connect Device to TV
Suggest that your family and friends connect their device to the TV for a better viewing and audio experience! If you have an Apple TV, you can mirror your iPhone, iPad or MacBook through it. Many smart TVs can connect to smartphones, so have people look into that, prior to your wedding.
Sometimes the sound can be hard to pick up over Zoom and your device may not have the speakers to make it loud enough. Your TV will be able to have it much louder.
Make sure everyone understands that they’ll still need to have their device pointing to them, for the video of themselves. What works best for us is have the laptop sitting on a table or chair below the TV, pointed in direction of everyone sitting on couch. That way they can watch the screen and it’s still a direct view for the Zoom video.
Additional Zoom Tips
If you follow my Zoom settings, it will record your screen as the active speaker (the only one not muted). It will also separately record one page in the gallery view. Note that means it will unfortunately not capture everyone. Our screen fit 25 participants on one page. And it appeared to be the first 25 people that joined and kept their video on. If someone turned off their video, they would get bumped to the last page and someone else would take their place. You’ll still be able to scroll through the pages and see everyone when you go over to talk to everyone after your ceremony.
We noticed afterwards that you could organize the participants video by clicking, holding and dragging to their desired position. This would have been something I wish we realized beforehand, so we could put our direct family, as well as any bridal party on the first page.
Try to get an idea of how many people you expect to join. We didn’t think we had to worry about the 100 participant limit, but at one point there were 90. Give yourself some buffer room in case some people log in with multiple devices.
It’s good to know that although your video may look high definition and sharp, unfortunately Zoom decreases the output quality for everyone + for the video recording. I would suggest having a second device (that has good video quality) do a regular recording of the ceremony. It’ll turn out to be sharper than the Zoom recording.
A cute idea I had was to ask my neices and a few close friends that had young daughters, to be my virtual flower girls! They dressed up and had a basket of flower petals that they threw around when I was making my entrance in. This was really cute to watch back!
Overall we were very happy with how our Zoom wedding turned out. We spoke to our family and friends and they really enjoyed the experience. It was something great for all of us to look forward to, during these COVID winter months. And it was a great way to get everyone together in the same “room” and see each other.
I hope this guide was helpful in your zoom wedding planning. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you!