Insider Tips on Staging a Virtual Wedding

As an event planner, I feed off creating environments to bring people together. The need to see people happy and create experiences that they will remember beyond the four hours of an event is ingrained in me. So COVID-19 has really pushed me to my limits of thinking: How do I wake up every day if I cannot do the very thing that brings me joy and fulfilment? 

I find myself incredibly lucky to not just be in the general events industry, but also in the wedding world. Weddings are the ultimate milestone to bring friends and family together and create memories that shape us. Right now, we are grieving the postponements of milestones, but with grief also comes hope. Hope beyond the present moment to accept the dire state we are in, and know we will be in a better state down the road.

I was reminded of this hope by one of our couples. Julie and Ben were set to get married this April in Brooklyn, N.Y., about 200 guests, but have now postponed that wedding to Fall 2020.

To paint a picture, this was a wedding with an incredible amount of thought and time poured into its planning. Julie was meticulous in the venue selection, choosing her vendors, picking the design, thinking through the logistics, managing the spreadsheets–there was a lot of heart and soul in this wedding.

Accepting that the originally planned wedding was not going to happen, another reality set in–one of a prolonged engagement and tons of uncertainty. But despite that, Julie and Ben decided they were still going to get married. With the help of an officiant via Zoom, friends and family watched a different, yet still incredibly special, version of their wedding.

Julie described it perfectly: “Was it everything I had ever dreamed of for my wedding ceremony? No. Was it the perfect culmination of a year and a half of planning? No. But in several ways, it was even better.”

Having gone through the experience firsthand, Julie shared with me her most honest recap of her wedding ceremony (from a logistical and emotional perspective), offering advice that our couples and we, as the professionals giving guidance, can take note of.

The wedding ceremony.

Julie’s Top Eight Tips:

Although it wasn’t what I had always imagined it would be, it was so special and so real. We put the wedding together in three days, and it truly reminded me that all of the other stuff is just stuff. We will tell this story to our children and our grandchildren. We felt the love from near and far as family and friends showered us with calls, emails, texts, flowers and treats. Our friends put on makeup for the first time during this quarantine. Men put on tuxes. People felt joy! We were all reminded what a wedding is all about.

We will one day celebrate this special day. We will dance with our friends and hug our family. But until then, we will have this incredible memory to hold on to.

Greeting guests.

From Daniela: Watching their ceremony from my bedroom (itching to be there to help in some way), I realized that celebrations will be smaller for the foreseeable future and I must accept that. But smaller does not mean less meaningful or less impactful or less special. We have a chance to create new benchmarks for milestones, the trailers to the feature films we all eagerly await.

After her start as a special events associate in the nonprofit sector, Grafman has been assisting in the growth of New York-based Vision Event Co. as the chief amazement officer and partner for the last nine years, taking the company from a boutique DJ company to an award-winning event planning firm focused on coordination and production for social and nonprofit events. She is a current board member for the Wedding International Professionals Association, speaks nationally on entrepreneurship and events, and co-founded Women in Events. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Fordham University, holds the CSEP designation, and has been named one of the “25 Young Event Pros to Watch” by Special Events Magazine.

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