How to Host a Zoom Wedding

Been to your share of Zoom weddings or just ready to host your own? This guide takes our tech expertise and our wedding attendee experience to give you step by step instructions and best practices to make your virtual event a success.

    With vast improvements in video calling across several platforms, people are creatively using this technology to watch events they can’t physically attend. Enter the Zoom wedding. If you want to professionally broadcast your wedding, this article is not for you. If you just want tips on using a popular, free video conference service, then read on my betrothed friend.

    There are a few things to consider when setting up your call, sending your invites, and starting your event. This article will walk you through the steps for each part, and give a few tips to reduce issues. We cannot provide a fix for anything that can go wrong, but a little preparation can help.

    Setting up Audio/Visuals

    Before you host your event you need to determine what equipment you plan to use.

    First consider your device, will you use a laptop with a front facing camera or a cellphone with a good camera. In either case you want to consider elevating the device for a good angle using a tripod or table.

    Using a tripod frees up one of your witnesses to be fully present instead of the amateur videographer.

    Consider using an external audio device. If you want to eliminate wires, look into a discreet Bluetooth microphone or headset. Pair it to your recording device to get improved audio. Make sure you test this audio ahead of time while you still have time to find an alternative AND the day of the event to account for noises in the location.

    If at all possible, hard wire your device. A lot of wedding ceremonies take place outside, and if you’re using a cell phone to record, you are likely out of luck. However, if you can plug in your laptop directly to your router, this can help improve your network connection.

    Your router may look a little different but the general procedure is the same.

    Some counties in some states will allow officiants and witnesses to attend via Zoom (often under extenuating circumstances). If that is your case (after checking legality with your county clerk), we recommend getting those people together in a Zoom meeting prior to the date to test everything out. Show them this article so they can follow best practices as well.

    Scheduling your event and preparing settings

    On the Zoom Home page, click the blue schedule button.

    Don’t click the new meeting button. That is to meet now as opposed to scheduling ahead of time.

    From here you can apply your basic settings. Start with a proper title for the event. Select the date and start time. The duration is purely to let your guests know how long they should expect. Your meeting can go under or over this time. However, keep in mind that if you are using a free Zoom account, group meetings are limited to 40 minutes.

    You can make your topic describe your event to help yourself and your guests recognize it.

    Leave the meeting ID option as generate automatically.

    Free accounts require that you use a password for entry. However, you can change the password to be more user friendly. Keep in mind that passwords are case sensitive. While a more random password is more secure, you can decide the balance based on your guests’ tech level and the risk of Zoom bombing.

    Your password should balance convenience with security.

    Set the video for the host to start on, but leave the participant video off for now. These setting are just how the meeting starts, but with these settings, participants can turn their video on. 

    Host video on is optional, but participant video off will be best for your guests to focus on your event.

    For the calendar setting, just select whichever platform you primarily use. Then click to expand the advanced options.

    Don’t hit schedule just yet. Peep those advanced options first.

    In the advanced options, make sure that the waiting room is turned off. This will allow guests to enter the Zoom meeting without you having to let them in. This is will be especially useful if someone is disconnected during the event, and has to reconnect.

    Enable join before host is optional. If you are cutting it close on the 40 minute time limit, you may want to turn this off. Otherwise, leaving this on can help people get situated if they join the Zoom meeting early.

    These advanced options can help prevent interruptions from guests.

    Mute participants upon entry is a must. While this does not prevent them from unmuting themselves, it does help anyone who unknowingly leaves their mic open. No one wants to hear Uncle Matt’s bird squawking while you say your vows.

    This is Clyde and he likes to honk.

    Choosing to record your ceremony is up to you. If you have the disk space and plan to watch it later, check this box. Recorded Zoom meetings are saved as an MP4 file in the Zoom program folder. This type of file is generally editable by video editing software if you really want to jazz up your recording.

    Lastly, click schedule meeting. You may receive a pop up to add this event to your calendar. It only adds to your calendar so you will still have to invite participants.

    Inviting people to your Zoom wedding

    Now that your meeting is set, it’s time to invite guests. The free Zoom account allows up to 100 participants (including yourself). Start by clicking the meetings tab at the top of the main Zoom window. Make sure you have the correct meeting selected. Then click copy invitation.

    Clicking edit will edit your meeting settings. If you want to edit the invitation, do it after pasting.

    Now that the invitation is in your clipboard you can use any method of communication such as email, Facebook, Hangouts, etc. to invite your guests. Just paste the message, edit as you see fit and send. I recommend giving additional instructions such as this video guide on how to pin a video in Zoom. Your guests now have all the information they need to attend your event.

    This invitation was sent via Facebook messenger but you can us any method to get the word out.

    Another option is to invite guests from the calendar event that was generated by Zoom. Just open that calendar in Gmail, Outlook, or another calendar and invite guests based on that service’s normal procedure.

    This is a Google Calendar event. Inviting guests is on the right.

    One important thing to look out for is to make sure you disable the native video feature for that calendar service. You don’t want guests attending the wrong video call! In Outlook you have to click to enable Teams, so that shouldn’t come up. However, Gmail will enable a meet call as soon as you add another gmail address to the event. Just press the X to the right of the Join Google meet button to disable it.

    This automatic process can be turned off in your account settings.

    Starting your Zoom Wedding event

    Begin at the meeting tab, select your meeting, and press start. Follow the prompts to join audio. If you opted for video recording, it will immediately begin recording. You can stop or pause this meeting either at the top near the red recording indicator, or by using the options menu at the bottom.

    This free stock image couple wanted every second recorded, but if they need to pause, its a one click process.

    View participant options by clicking the participants button in the lower taskbar and then click the dot dot dot at the bottom right. (You can do this even if no participants have arrived yet.) A menu will pop up with participant controls. The most important control on here is to prevent participants from unmuting themselves. Uncheck this selection as early as possible to prevent random noises or interruptions from your guests.  You will still be able to unmute individuals if you have plans for a remote readings or a remote officiant.

    Muting your guest and not letting them unmute themselves makes a better experience for all.

    I recommend copying any instructions from your invitation and pasting it into the participant chat. That way it is at hand for your guests. If you have a wedding program you can type in the information or attach it as a file into the chat.

    The chat may be easier to see but the file can be more decorative.

    When you are ready to start your ceremony just do one last double check.

    • Test your audio
    • Stage your placement and check your video framing
    • Make sure all participants are muted
    • Check if you are recording (optional)

    When you are done, you have the option to unmute and converse with your guests. Click end meeting and select end meeting for all to close out the Zoom meeting. This will end your recording as well.

    Congratulations!

    If you chose this route for your special event, we’re so happy to help. Let us know how it went, and any improvements we should add for others. For more Valiant guides, visit our knowledge base at https://thevaliantway.com/kb.

    Valiant Technology is the award-winning managed service provider to innovative industries in New York.

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