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(Image: Michelle Manson)
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Love in the Time of Corona: Couples Say I Do to Zoom Weddings

While COVID-19 is closing schools, businesses and workplaces, many couples are choosing to carry on with their wedding vows by getting married via Zoom. Love birds are turning to this popular cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, and utilizing the web technology to plan their nuptials during this time of social distancing.

Summer is the peak time for the wedding industry and most couples have postponed their ceremonies due to closed venues, cancelled flights and overall fear of spreading the virus. However, not all brides and grooms are willing to wait, and have turned to video apps to host their special day.

Florist Candice Svarvec, owner of The Petal and The Stem in Snohomish has created floral arrangements for weddings since 2007.

“It's been pretty devastating for many couples,” said Svarvec. “Snohomish is the number one wedding destination spot now in the Northwest, so venues need to be booked about two years in advance. The pandemic has made it difficult because couples are unsure if their venue is going to honor their contract, or go completely out of business. As a result, many are turning to Zoom weddings.”

Svarvec works with engaged couples and adapts to whatever their needs are. One of these couples is Michelle Manson and John Gorski, who planned to have a destination wedding last April.

“We had guests booked on flights, hotel rooms booked, a restaurant, florist and photographer booked, etc.,” said Manson. “We were to be married on a bluff overlooking the ocean. I was looking forward to pictures with our blended family on the sand and a fun evening at a restaurant with some background music, an ocean view, and delicious food.”

Unfortunately, their plans had to be canceled due to the pandemic. However, they still wanted a ceremony to set an example for their children.

“We simply boiled it down to what was really important,” she said. “The two of us committing to each other in front of God and our family, as best we could, under difficult circumstances.”

The couple decided to schedule a Zoom wedding, complete with invitations, flowers, photos, and of course, family and friends via video conferencing.

“We called this ‘Wedding 1.0,’ and are planning to host a ‘Wedding 2.0’ hopefully late summer with our family and local friends in attendance,” said Manson.

If you’re considering a Zoom wedding, here are some tips to make your special day feel like a classy affair. Just because the venue may be non-traditional, doesn’t mean it means to be bland!

Send out invitations
There are several websites offering email invitations for virtual parties. Companies like Evite, or Paperless Post allow you to choose a chic invitation and include detailed instructions for your guests so they know how to log-on and what to expect.

Choose the perfect time of day
Just like photos, good lighting is crucial for video as well. Aim for a time of day with the best lighting, usually at sunset or late afternoon. Outdoor lighting is optimal. If it’s an evening wedding, lots of candles will give nice light and a romantic ambiance. Avoid overhead lights or indoor lighting at night.

Keep it small, simple and short
Large-group video gatherings can be chaotic, especially when people talk over each other. Ensure guests know to mute their microphones. The happy couple and the officiant should be the only ones who can be heard. It’s a good idea to assign one person to take care of any tech problems that may arrive. Teenagers are great at this, and sometimes it makes for comedic relief.

“We had a bit of drama when the Zoom timed out right before the vows,” shared Manson. “My son yelled ‘Oh shoot, we're going to have a quick intermission!’ right before the call dropped. Everyone logged back in to see us finalize our vows. Meanwhile, the dog was circling around us wondering what was going on, which was hilarious. After the ceremony, we enjoyed a family visit on Zoom and had a champagne toast! Despite the distance, we were able to feel the love and support from our families on our special day.”

A brief ceremony of 10-15 minutes is the ideal length for keeping your guests attention. Encourage personal speeches, but give your speakers a time limit. After the ceremony, seal it with a kiss and a champagne toast.

All the Things
Flowers, cake, photos, music and food are all part of a great party, so there’s no need to leave them out completely. Many florists, like The Petal and The Stem, remain open for business and provide contactless deliveries. Pike Place Market even offers drive-by flower pick up. You don’t need to go crazy, as webcams only show a minimal area. Check your camera angle to ensure the best view possible.

If you don’t want to order a cake, encourage all your guests to bake their own so everyone can virtually enjoy eating dessert together. Now that you don’t have to feed 100 guests, order a romantic dinner for two from your favorite restaurant. Go all out and indulge in a feast with all your special favorites and encourage your guests to do the same. Set your table with linen napkins, crystal wine glasses and the good china and sliver. And don’t forget fresh flowers!

For the music, curate a playlist that reflects your relationship, and have it playing for your guests when they log in. Save a celebratory, fun song for the final toast.

Photos are forever, so this is often one of the most important aspect of a wedding ceremony. If you have your ceremony outdoors in a large space, consider a professional photographer who has the appropriate lenses to shoot from a safe distance. If you're getting married in a small space, set up a tri-pod and remote-controlled camera. Take lots of photos! The more photos, the better chance of getting a great one.

Most importantly, savor the day and enjoy every moment. Just because plans changed, doesn’t mean it can’t be an unforgettable and beautiful day!

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