Image: S. Rose Photo

Being a marriage celebrant has never been more interesting during these COVID times. As COVID and travel restrictions keeps changing constantly, I’m finding myself changing and adapting my style to try to give my couples the best day possible during these stressful times. Flexibility is key and couples are choosing to:

  • Postpone their wedding entirely until a later date;
  • Register their marriage and have the ceremony and reception at a later date; or
  • Have their entire wedding ceremony and reception via zoom and the after party at a later date
  • Or anything in between!

The choice for every couple differs depending on their preference and the location of their family and friends and the restrictions currently in place where they live. Working in Melbourne Australia, where we have one of the strictest conditions for the longest period, it is more vital than ever to encourage my couples to make the best of things and help them see the positives to keep their spirits up.

Whatever the restrictions – masks, social distancing, hand sanitiser, indoor, outdoor, etc it’s a memorable year – let’s have some fun! No matter what happens, at least you know you will face it together as husband, wife or spouse.

Image: S. Rose Photo

Hence, this article is hoping to point out some of the important areas a couple needs to focus on depending on what decision they make and I hope it makes your wedding planning just that tiny bit easier.

For most people, with the global travel restrictions in place, it will be very likely you may have family or friends who cannot attend your wedding.  So at a minimum, most couples will need to live stream their wedding.

The most important things I would recommend are:

  • Make sure someone (not the bride/groom) have the laptop/mobile/tablet set up on a tripod or table/stool and working before start time.
  • Delegate the responsibility of hosting and managing the mute button to someone reliable online and asking that person to make sure all guests online can hear and are ready. That person is also responsible for liaising with someone (not the bride/groom) onsite to fix technical/sound issues.
  • Make sure someone online is videoing or screen shotting all the reactions of everyone and the chat – that is going to be the fun part that will make you smile! (double screens is a minimum)
  • Make sure you have a video set up on tripod or table/stool before you begin
  • If it’s important for online guests to hear you (e.g if you are saying personalised vows or doing a proper ceremony), make sure you use a microphone with speakers
  • Really consider having a professional photographer as one of your allowed attendees, or at least someone in charge of photography

Image: S. Rose Photo

For those who have close family or friends who will have to attend online, you may consider more effort will be required and do a proper Zoom wedding.  I gained full insight and appreciation of what was needed when I was lucky enough to attend a full Zoom wedding and reception recently of friends who moved interstate whilst their rest of the family and friends are stuck in Victoria or overseas. The ever resilient and positive couple Joanne and James decided they wanted to get married anyway so set about organising.  They were blessed with very technologically minded (and creative) family and friends who were keen to help out.  Based on that experience and those I was a celebrant for, here is a list of what you can consider when organising:

  • Consider time zone differences of your guests when deciding on the ceremony time
  • Ensure there is a microphone being used even if it is only five people or even consider using professional videography team for broadcasting quality footage for your guests. In the case of the latter, as some COVID restrictions requires outdoor settings consider power source.
  • Send out a schedule early. This is new to everyone and guests need to know how long they are expected to remain online (to ensure they have enough food and drinks)

Here is an example of a schedule you can consider…

  • Have a Zoom MC. (My friends Jo and James called them Zoom Fairies.) This role varies and may include but not limited to:
    1. Introducing house keeping rules – like how to clap Auslan style over Zoom, making sure everything has arrived and is ready, have a few activities to warm everyone for great footage (Brady Brunch reenactment is a must)
    2. In charge of muting and unmuting and spot lighting (for readings/speeches or special shout outs or games)
    3. Maybe instead of a celebrant led ceremony, have a zoomMC led wedding
    4. Encourage people to us the chat and cheer Auslan style and that all will be recorded for the happy couple
    5. In charge of leading everyone into the next segment or introducing speeches and simple technical explanations (if required)
  • Have someone be the Zoom IT Tech:
    1. To assist the Zoom MC with technical issues
    2. To video the whole ceremony over zoom
    3. To video and screen shot all the reactions of guests (couples love looking back at this, it’s heart warming to see who sheds happy tears for you)
    4. To video and screen shot all the conversations in the general group and sub groups! Normally guests do not get to converse during the ceremony and it is really lovely to know everyone’s thoughts and reactions.
    5. In charge of splitting everyone into their breakout group
    6. To assist with all the music and games

Taking it to the next level, you can consider:

  • Sending a drinks and cupcake/macaroon package to all your guests to enjoy during the wedding
  • For close family or friends encourage or assist them to make up a backdrop – think fairy lights, balloons, flowers, etc

Take as much or as little from this article as you need. As weddings evolve and we gain more experience, I am sure many more great ideas will come! Don’t forget to plan something lovely and intimate for just the two of you after the Zoom so you can continue on the high rather than miss everyone (which you undoubtedly will).

Most importantly, when it is time for the after party that can happen in person, it will be all fun and no formalities.

I will conclude this article with the words of my friends who bravely took the challenge of a Zoom wedding head on, “Lean in, make the most of it, and at the end of the day, it’s all part of the story we tell about our lives.  Trust your loved ones to make the most of it too.” Wise words, Joanne and James.


Want more? Check out How To Live Stream Your Wedding: Everything You Need To Know

Ms Floral Says: Oh 2020! The one thing I can get onboard with this year is how creative couples are being with their weddings and elopements. And this advice from Mona will still be super useful in a post-COVID world for guests who can’t physically make it to the event but would like to attend virtually. 

About Mona Chung-Chao: Mona Chung-Chao is a Melbourne based marriage celebrant who specialises in personalised weddings.