What to Know About Live Streaming Your Wedding

Here's how to include guests unable to attend IRL.

bride with dad

Photo by Meg Smith Photography

Whether you are getting hitched in a far-flung location or have guests who simply can't make the trip, there are many reasons why some of your inner circle may not be there in person when you tie the knot. The good news is, thanks to technology, there may be a way to have your nearest and dearest view the wedding live without being there physically: setting up a live stream for your wedding.

Before you cue up the camera, though, there are a few things you should take into consideration. Read ahead for what you need to know about streaming your wedding live.

how to live stream your wedding
Bailey Mariner/Brides 

Why Couples Live Stream

Hashtags, photo booths, and drone photography have already proven that tech is making its mark on weddings, so it’s natural that live streaming has become a thing, too. “We first saw its significant increase in corporate events, but now we are starting to see this trickle into weddings,” says Nichole Wardle, director of sales and marketing at Longwood Venues + Destinations. It can come into play when family members are ill and can’t travel to the venue, can’t afford to attend, or are otherwise tied up. Wardle says those who have a public persona, like social media influencers, bloggers, or TV personalities may want to share the moment with followers in real-time.

“[One] bride’s brother was deployed to Iraq and unable to be there for the wedding,” Wardle says. “He had access to Wi-Fi during the time the wedding was taking place, so he was able to witness the ceremony and the majority of the day. This added a very personal and emotional component to the day.”

The Etiquette of Live Streaming

If you’re going the live streaming route, it’s crucial to remember that this should be treated as a fallback just for those who regrettably can’t attend the wedding, says modern etiquette coach Maggie Oldham.

Her advice? Do not offer it as an option on the invitation or invite a “B-list” to only watch along (that would be a “major faux pas,” Oldham says). “Live streaming should be a backup,” she says. “It’s not one or the other.” That said, she recommends offering guests who RSVP “no” the option to tune in to the live stream via a personalized email with the link and a note.

Avoid posting the link publicly or on your wedding website to protect your privacy, and make sure only those you’ve actually invited have access to it, Oldham says.

It's probably best to nix live streaming the reception, as guests may not be happy with being on camera if their inhibitions are lowered while they’re drinking and dancing the night away (it may also be lonely for the person sitting at home to see everyone having a good time without physically being there). If one of your live-streamers (say, a parent or close relative) insists on being in on the action via a live feed, Oldham says you can throw up a cute sign on the tripod, like “Say hi to Grandma, watching from Idaho”—to explain what a static camera is doing there to your IRL guests.

How to Do It

Once you’ve settled on live streaming, you’ll want to make sure that you test the internet connection at the venue beforehand, according to Chip Dizárd, a photographer and a video live stream expert in Baltimore. “WiFi has gotten better over the years for live streaming, but a camera that can be connected to a laptop and a wired internet connection works best with the weddings I have live-streamed,” he says. “Also, many churches now have live-stream capabilities. Ask if there is an extra fee to stream your ceremony if it is in a church.” A professional will be able to troubleshoot any problems on the day of and work with the videographer and photographer to ensure that those tuning in feel like they’re a part of the ceremony.

Want to DIY? You can always go the social media route with Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube or use dedicated live streaming services like DaCast or Livestream, says Cara Davis, author of Cheap Ways to Tie the Knot (you’ll want to designate someone to set up a camera, phone, or iPad on a tripod in an unobtrusive spot to do this). “Alternately, if you’re hiring a videographer for the event, ask if they could live stream the wedding and make a recording of it instead of recording and editing later,” she says.

Make sure to test the internet connection at your venue before going live on the wedding day.

Even if you’re handling it yourself (or delegating to your most tech-savvy pal), make sure to talk it over with your venue, your wedding planner, and any relevant vendors to ensure it’s smooth sailing that day and that all parts of the ceremony can be streamed. For example, make sure you get the green light from any musician playing at your ceremony to confirm they are okay with having their performance online. By chatting beforehand, you can make sure your vows are the only thing on your mind on your wedding day!

  • How much does it cost to live stream a wedding?

    Dependent upon the method of live streaming that you choose, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 for an app to upwards of $400 for professional services that specialize in live streaming. You may find that some apps even offer free base packages.

  • Can guests rewatch the live stream if they miss it?

    It depends on which live streaming method you use. While some live streams are designated to be viewed solely in real time, there are apps that allow you to re-watch and even download live recordings.

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