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Receiving a "with regrets" wedding RSVP from a beloved friend or family member makes your heart sink. But sharing your big day no longer requires an in-person presence. Since the rise in the availability of Wi-Fi and 4G networks, live-streaming technology has made viewing nuptials in real time a possibility for all guests.
Philip Ly, CEO of I Do Stream LLC, is a pioneer in the wedding streaming field, having helped over 2,000 couples broadcast their ceremonies since 2008. Ly strongly suggests everyone — from the couples using his services to those who choose a free webcasting site like Ustream, Skype Premium or Livestream — look out for preventable glitches before walking down the aisle.
"The number one thing to think about is making sure everything works before your wedding," Ly says. "The biggest issue we encounter is couples who don't try to get going until the day of the wedding, and the problem usually ends up happening because they don't have essential equipment, something that can be easily fixed a few days prior. Do a test stream at some point."
But wrong cables and missing software aren't the only problems live-streamers may encounter: The etiquette surrounding virtual weddings raises its own issues.
"You really want to focus on not offending people by having an 'A team' and a 'B team' — invited to your actual wedding versus online wedding," says digital lifestyle expert David Ryan Polgar.
Polgar finds wedding webcasts are most successful in situations where the couple is accommodating guests who can't otherwise attend. (For example, friends who are unable to afford the trip for a destination wedding.) "If you're using a live-streaming wedding for an accommodation as opposed to a posterity reason, then it makes more sense," he says.
Of course, there's one other potentially sticky question raised for online-only guests: Do they still give the couple a gift?
"My personal feeling about it is you are part of the wedding," says Ly. "Even though you weren't there physically, you witnessed the exchanging of vows in real-time. So if you get invited, a small gift is appropriate."