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Pandemic etiquette: How to have or attend a Zoom wedding

Wedding season 2020 probably won’t take you further than the comfort of your own couch.

There are no travel arrangements or sitters to coordinate. No agonizing over your outfit selection or budgeting to buy something off of the couple’s registry.

Many couples who’ve had their wedding plans upended by the pandemic are still getting married on their intended date, but in a much different way than what was originally planned. Many are planning a wedding in two acts extended over as much as two years: the ceremony followed by a reception.

Christina Baruch, owner of Events Made Golden, an NJ-based events company that services the tristate area, said many of her clients are getting legally married in small ceremonies that they live-stream to guests at home and are planning “quick vow renewals in-person at big celebrations in the future when it’s safer to gather in large groups.”

Couples marrying in 2020 are planning their weddings in two acts extended over as much as two years: the ceremony followed by a reception. (Photo: Getty)
Couples marrying in 2020 are planning their weddings in two acts extended over as much as two years: the ceremony followed by a reception. (Photo: Getty)

“Almost everyone is planning for future dates because although their guests watched on Zoom, the couples still want to proclaim their love for one another in front of everyone,” Baruch said. Receptions are being booked a year to two years out and her clients envision them to more of a “party that’s wedding-esque.”

If you’re hosting

Emily Post can sit this one out because there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to live-streaming your wedding ceremony over video conferencing apps like Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype.

Baruch encourages couples to follow their bliss and “have fun with it” without getting stressed or mired in the details. It might help to deputize a family member or close friend to be in charge of the streaming and take a practice run to avoid technical difficulties at the wrong time.

The pandemic has made your wedding day unconventional, but newlyweds can still incorporate conventional aspects of weddings like the couples’ first dance or ceremoniously cutting the wedding cake.

There are no clear cut rules when it comes to hosting or attending a Zoom wedding. (Photo: Getty)
There are no clear cut rules when it comes to hosting or attending a Zoom wedding. (Photo: Getty)

You can decide to do those things now and stream for your guests or save those elements for your in-person reception. There’s also nothing stopping you from doing it twice.

No matter what, the day will be memorable and worthy of capturing in photographs. Some of Baruch’s clients who are planning to throw intimate ceremonies either in backyards or parks are still commissioning photographers to attend.

Who to invite?

That’s for you to decide. Inviting people to tune in is considerably less money than entertaining them live, so if you always dreamed of a standing room only-style wedding, this is your golden opportunity to spread the link far and wide. You can decide to keep it to your inner circle and password protect the link as well.

If you’re logging in as a guest

Your interactions with the newlyweds might be kept to a minimum since you’re watching them marry through a screen, but you can still make your end of the call festive.

What do I do?

For starters, please mute your line so your conversation isn’t heard. This should be your No. 1 priority.

Toast the couple from afar and get in the spirit of the party. Consider popping some bubbly or sipping sparkling water on your end to make it a little livelier and help differentiate the event from a business video conference.

What do I wear?

Wedding guests are usually given a margin of sartorial expression as invitations sometimes include the preferred dress code, but guests at Zoom weddings have the freedom to wear whatever they choose.

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Yahoo Money sister site Cashay has a weekly newsletter.

Baruch considers the etiquette pertaining to attire “non-existent” because “nobody's really focusing on the guests that are on the Zoom call.” Just as you would at an in-person wedding, don’t wear something so outlandish that your outfit detracts attention from the couple.

Do I send a gift?

The short answer is no.

Gifts for the newlyweds are customary, but it isn’t the case for Zoom weddings. It’s a gracious gesture to send a little something to the couple on their wedding day, but it’s not required nor are you obligated. Baruch recommends small tokens like a basket of goodies, wine or champagne, or a heartfelt written note expressing your best wishes.

You can save the actual gift for the couple’s first-anniversary party or 12-month vow renewal or reception at a future date.

Stephanie is a reporter for Yahoo Money and Cashay, a new personal finance website. She can be reached at stephanie.asymkos@yahoofinance.com. Follow her on Twitter @SJAsymkos.

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