As the coronavirus pandemic makes in-person group gatherings impossible, weddings across the globe have been cancelled and postponed. Some couples, however, are sticking to their original dates with virtual ceremonies that guests are invited to attend via video conference. Many of these weddings have been symbolic, with marriage licenses obtained pre-Coronavirus, but now in New York it’s gotten easier to do the deed officially online.
This weekend, New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced that couples in the state who wish to partake in a virtual wedding will now have the legal capability to do so: “I am issuing an Executive Order allowing New Yorkers to obtain a marriage license remotely and allowing clerks to perform ceremonies via video conference,” he tweeted.
This is a way of marriage that may well continue after stay-at-home orders are lifted, when large gatherings are still cautioned against. But how best to go about it? Medical student Lena Turkheimer is one bride who postponed her party until 2021, but still chose to have a Zoom wedding on her original date. She and Mark Owen held their virtual ceremony in the backyard of Turkheimer’s parents’ house in Charlottesville, Virginia. 75 attendees—including their officiant, select family members, and the wedding party—dialed in via Zoom to witness the couple saying their vows and attend a “reception,” at which family members gave toasts. Her tech advice? First, confirm your setup works: “We had a problem with the audio in the beginning because we were trying to route our sound through a bluetooth speaker. When we turned off the speaker mid-ceremony, it was much easier for our virtual guests to hear what we were saying. I think the bluetooth speaker had a low quality microphone that had trouble picking us up.”
Second, remember practice makes perfect: “Definitely do a practice run with the sound before the show starts. It was really helpful to make one of our tech-savvy guests a co-host, so they could mute everyone’s lines and make sure things kept running smoothly.”
As one of the first wave of brides to trial this new way of saying “I do,” Turkheimer confirms it’s just as meaningful. “We keep joking that after having spent so much time, effort, and money on a traditional wedding, this felt just as special as how I imagine a traditional wedding would have felt,” she says. “[It] allowed us to focus on what really matters!”