Livestreaming your wedding is totally a hot topic right now! I thought I would jump in with a blog post that’s useful so I could help you guys out.
As a wedding photographer, I am often asked about livestreaming. And while I’ve thought about learning the skills, investing in professional equipment, hiring another member of my team… I eventually decided against it as a business model myself.
However, I believe wholeheartedly that you SHOULD livestream your wedding! There are a couple of ways to go – do it yourself vs. hire a professional. Both have their pros and cons, but ultimately I believe that there is a strong case for bringing in a dedicated professional that specializes in nothing but livestreams!
Whatever you decide, l can definitely offer my words of advice, having photographed many weddings in which livestreaming was happening. I’ve even been lucky enough to view some of my clients’ livestreamed videos! It’s such a treat to see how they turned out, and works beautifully alongside stunning still images.
So, I feel a long blog post coming on. I have a lot of input about what works, what mistakes to avoid, and how to best livestream your wedding. Plus, I’ve researched the heck out of this topic so I could prepare something that will give you much food for thought, and some ideas about the best wedding livestreaming solution for you.
If you’re going to bother having a virtual wedding – it’s worth it to do it right! Check out my video which makes it a little easier to understand as you can actually see the video in action!
Why livesteaming makes so much sense right now!
During the times we’re living in, many couples have been forced to downsize or postpone their weddings. Well, duh. Who am I talking to. You guys know how hard it is trying to plan a wedding in the middle of a pandemic. And I’m right there with you.
Budgets are tight, guest lists are miniscule, and you’re trying your best to keep things as and low-key and down-to-earth as possible. Because you never know when you may need to postpone that wedding… again, right? Sigh.
You know what’s absolutely fascinating to consider? The small wedding and microwedding trend are set to continue for a long time after the pandemic dies down. Articles like this one in the Atlantic, report that ‘even after big parties are safe, smaller, intimate ceremonies are likely to persist.’
There’s a strong possibility that this weirdness will last, that weddings as we know them—grand, festive events, with extended family and friends in attendance—won’t be the norm again for a long time. […] Small wedding ceremonies could […] become more common not just for health reasons, but because coziness and intimacy might organically become trendy.The Pandemic’s Long-Lasting Effects on Weddings, The Atlantic
Thankfully, there is a way to involve guests that cannot make it to your big day. Enter: livestreaming. At this point, we’re all familiar with FaceTime, Google Meet, Zoom, plus the social media giants’ Live functionality.
But how do you livestream a wedding? Is it worth the hassle trying to do it yourself? How do you find someone who’ll take care of everything for you? Is a wedding livestream any different from a regular work Zoom call or FaceTime chat with a friend?
Grab your coffee and let’s find out all about live-streaming for weddings. I’ll also let you in on the service I recommend to my clients, (spoiler, it’s the incredible LoveStream)
10% discount on LoveStream’s services when you sign up with my link and use coupon code ZOE10 🤎 ☝🏾 [LOVESTREAM PROMO CODE ZOE10]
What are the benefits of live-streaming my wedding?
The main benefit of live-streaming is of course that people can join who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to be there in person. If you’ve always dreamed of a big wedding, livestreaming is the closest thing to making that dream come true right now.
I’ve photographed intimate ceremonies in a bride’s parents’ backyard, where 200 guests joined from all over the US! Another wedding couple (Neenu and Subin, who used LoveStream) had over 300 guests, mostly joining from India! How cool is that.
You may be worried about the idea of planning a larger wedding. As I write this, we do not have any idea when large celebrations will be possible again. That’s not to mention how long it may take for folks to feel comfortable being in a room with dozens of strangers, or boarding planes to travel cross-country.
So, it’s pretty wise to avoid the hassle and also the risk of financial loss of canceling or postponing a large wedding. More and more couples are booking something small for your nearest and dearest, and allowing everyone else to join online.
As well as the virtual aspects, a major plus of livestreaming is that you get a recorded video to enjoy for the rest of your lives! There’s something really nice about having your whole ceremony recorded for posterity.
When you hire a videographer, did you know they typically create for you a short highlight video of about 5 minutes? It’s the whole day, artfully cut into a movie trailer-esque. Not to do down what they do, because wedding videos are pure art.
But as a lasting, faithful and complete record of the ceremony, a livestream is the best way to capture this. Plus, you may be down for a team of videographers following you around all day, with the higher price tag associated with local, business-owning vendors.
Livestreaming is easy, affordable, unobtrusive and very needed right now.
Which platform should I choose to livestream my wedding?
There are so many you can choose from! OK, that isn’t really a helpful answer so here’s a little more flavor on that with my own personal spin on things.
The most common two-way streaming services are things like Google Meet, Zoom and GoTo Meeting. Then there are social media giants’ own streams (typically one-way streams) like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitch.
Going the path of least resistance like a Facebook Live seems, well, easiest because it’s so familiar. But there are a few catches that you may not have considered.
Common pitfalls with streaming or video conferencing platforms
You know how important it is to keep that video after it’s been streamed live? Well, this can be problematic on the social media services. The ability to playback your stream may be severely limited. And if you don’t get to it in time, it’s gone.
Also I am not entirely sure how easy it is to get an actual MP4 file after you’ve gone live over a social platform. As far as I know, you’ll have to use some third party workaround if you want to save a video file to your hard drive.
You may encounter extremely choppy video or it could cut out completely. Social media apps crash all the time. With billions of users accessing some platforms, social and conferencing platforms need to be ruthless with compression, which means the lowest-quality video.
Beware of the limits of free services. They are NOT intended for once-in-a-lifetime events. They’re great for getting on a Live and hawking your MLM skincare product, but your wedding day? 💁🏾♀️ I’m not sure they give you the reliability and quality you expect.
There’s also a participant limit. FaceTime’s limit is 32 (and supports Apple devices only) – it’s really meant for one-to-one calls. Zoom is 100 with the basic paid plan and Meet is limited to 250.
Sounds like a lot, but if you factor in all the extended family members, friends and plus ones who can now join, it’s easier to hit those numbers than you might think!
A few other pitfalls:
- It’s hard to maintain privacy. How do you keep exes, co-workers or other random uninvited people from coming across your wedding stream?
- Any music in your stream could cause the stream to be automatically blocked or deleted due to copyright infringement.
- Your video may be deleted after a certain length of time, or without warning if there’s a change to the T&Cs.
- Many platforms require an account and / or the installation of software.
Do I want a two-way stream (like Zoom) or a one-way stream (like Facebook Live)?
So the first thing to decide is one-way or two-way. I recommend a one-way stream for the ceremony. A one-way stream is actually more like an in-person wedding ceremony.
You don’t want the risk of interruptions because someone has not muted their mic, or because virtual guests are chatting amongst themselves instead of watching the ceremony!
Sure you can do a more informal Zoom afterwards (make sure you upgrade for a small fee so it doesn’t cut out after 40 minutes!) where people can share a toast.
This is also perfect for the ‘family photos’ where close family are attending virtually. I’ve done this for many wedding clients now, and they are loving it!
For the ceremony, a one-way stream is the way to go unless you have readers or speeches etc. being given virtually during the ceremony.
How to use LoveStream to stream your wedding
I’m so excited to tell you, my lovely clients and random marriers of the internet, about LoveStream and why I’ve partnered with them as an affiliate to promote their services.
Here’s everything you need to know to help you understand what LoveStream is and why you should use them.
Here’s a couple of very short videos that show you how all of this works!
LoveStream is a one-way, high-definition streaming service, built on its own proprietary platform. It allows your wedding guests to click a link and they are able to watch your livestream.
It’s super simple to use and set up! LoveStream is brought to you by the people behind Bustld, a well-established wedding planning service that matches couples with the perfect vendors.
Anyway, here’s how it works.
You’ll need to provide three of your devices to use for the streaming. iPhones or any modern smartphones work great for this. Next, appoint someone on site who will get them connected. All they’ll need to do is click a link that LoveStream sends to each device!
That helpful friend can now sit down and enjoy the ceremony! If you have a planner, then even better.
Now here’s where the magic happens. LoveStream has a dedicated producer, based all the way over in Charlotte, who will make sure the magic is done. And what is this magic? ✨ Well, they cut from camera to camera in real time, depending on what the best angle is.
The best part is, the coordinator will work with you the day before the wedding for a technical rehearsal. You’ll chat about best practices and they’ll make suggestions on tripod placement.
You can even rent wireless radio mics from LoveStream that make the audio rich and buttery smooth – and seamless when jumping from different devices. These would be super expensive to purchase, as they’re typically used by professional videographers. So it’s pretty awesome you can rent them!
You can also rent tripods from them, or pick some up very cheaply on Amazon as they are honestly very affordable for the basic models. (Can also be repurposed if you’re an aspiring photographer!)
Before the wedding, LoveStream will build a dedicated webpage with a unique URL that you can circulate to your guests. All the viewer will have to do is hit the large ‘play’ button easily visible at the top of the screen!
No account to create, no password to remember, no logging in and software to install!
If you’re concerned about privacy, you can have a password added to keep snooping eyes out.
On the webpage, you can also add links to your wedding registry, any instructions or timeline for the day, or a link to your invitation. In fact, you can embed any media, such as a YouTube video or Spotify playlist.
There is a live chat where virtual participants can talk to each other. And there’s a virtual guest book for them to sign, which is available for you to download a few days after the wedding.
10% discount on LoveStream’s services when you sign up with my link and use coupon code ZOE10 🤎 ☝🏾 [LOVESTREAM PROMO CODE ZOE10]
More reasons why LoveStream rocks ⚡
➣ 👵 LoveStream is grandma-proof
That’s actually a quote from Ryan, the Co-Founder. But he’s got a point. Zoom requires software download, Google Meet needs a Google account, and you’ll definitely need to remember your Facebook password to access a livestream there. These may be easy for us, but they’re tricky for the older generation. That can feel disempowering to them, at a time when they’re already isolated.
➣ 📡 Works on WiFi or cell signal
It’s awesome that LoveStream is high definition so I was surprised to learn that it does actually work with cell signal only! You’ll want to test this beforehand of course, and make sure there you have adequate data on your plan, at least 1GB would be advisable.
➣ 👩🏽💻 You’ll have a virtual support team
You know those little chat bubbles you get in the right hand corner of a website? LoveStream has one of those (for the middle and top packages)! If any virtual guest has technical issues, a real live human will be there to help.
➣ 🖼️ You can add other media into your stream
Want to add a slideshow to keep guests entertained while they’re waiting for the stream to start? Have you prepared a comedy skit that sums up the craziness of your relationship?
Easy! LoveStream will take care of that for you. Just select the top package. You could even add in pre-recorded speeches – whatever you like!
➣ 🎞️ Real-time editing
The biggest wow moment for me when I was first learning about LoveStream is the real-time editing. I think it’s incredible that they have developed the technology to do real-time camera (or phone) switching, completely virtually!
Angles are automatically optimized for whatever is going on in the scene. Someone blocking the view of the couple? No problem, cut to another camera.
A funny moment from the IRL guests? Let’s switch to a different view and see that!
This adds a level of professionalism and finesse that would be hard to achieve with the traditional one-camera setup.
All of these things let your virtual guests know you care about their experience. You’ve clearly invested in making it top-notch.
10% discount on LoveStream’s services when you sign up with my link and use coupon code ZOE10 🤎 ☝🏾 [LOVESTREAM PROMO CODE ZOE10]
If you want to dive deeper into what LoveStream has to offer, here’s a longer video from the husband-and-wife team behind Bustld, Ryan and Samie.
A few tips for successful live streaming of your wedding
Whatever streaming service you use, a few tips are needed here! (I’m all about them tips!) If you’re doing it all yourself, that’s a great way to save money – nothing beats free, amirite?! But be aware there is a lot that goes into successful streaming. OK, let’s dive into the tips!
Stream the ceremony only, not the reception
The ceremony is the perfect part of the day to stream and broadcast. It’s short and sweet (typically less than half an hour). And it doesn’t require participation, so those at home can be muted and not feel they’re missing out.
This is the most meaningful part of the wedding day, and it’s honestly what makes a wedding a wedding. The rest is more for the in-person guests to enjoy, such as dinner, drinks, chatting and dancing.
Have a sign that encourages in-person guests to say hi 👋🏾 to virtual guests
When some of your guests are behind a screen, it’s important to take steps to make them feel welcome. One way of doing that is to address them (which we’ll get onto in a minute). Another way is the simple touch of having a sign that tells your guests that ‘hey, we’re live-streaming! Say hi to folks tuning in at home!’
Address your at-home audience
It’s really nice to welcome virtual guests into the ceremony. I recommend having your officiant work in a special introduction, just to thank and honor the folks at home.
One nice touch I have seen at a couple of ‘Zoom weddings’, is to take a moment during the ceremony to turn and face the camera or phone that’s streaming. Give virtual guests a moment to take screenshots and really just to see you and take it all in.
If there’s time, check out the messages they’re writing and thank them again for being there! Anything you can do to make them feel just as loved and included is a huge plus.
Encourage virtual guests to dress up and toast you
It may be a virtual wedding but they are still your wedding guests! 💃🏾 Some people love the opportunity to get dressed up and raise a glass. Especially if you have a fun dress code, it can be a nice way to get everyone involved and in the wedding mood.
Do a virtual shout out
After the one-way stream is over, consider doing a more casual, two-way stream possibly later in the day such as when you’re settling down for a meal with your in-person guests. You can ask key virtual guests to say a few words, with a strict running order. Or, just have someone IRL read out the chat messages at a certain time and respond to them.
Have a start and end time to the stream and an order of events
Do make sure you have a timeline in place, so it’s clear to everyone that just a small selection of virtual guests will have a few prepared words to say – it’s not going around everyone!
A little structure, even to the most relaxed of gatherings, helps everyone understand the order of events. Also, that way people can tune in to the highlights, without causing embarrassment by missing something important.
Have an MC (a friend who is loud!) to keep you on track
It’s helpful to circulate the start and end times to all guests prior to the big day. You’ll also want to have someone to guide all guests – virtual and IRL – through proceedings.
Openings and closings are important, so make sure people are welcomed at the start and thanked on closing. An MC friend can also make introductions and explain what’s going on. Virtual weddings will be new territory to some, if not all, of your guests.
Put together a thank you pack for virtual guests delivered before the wedding
If you’re really organized you could create some goodies and mail these out to absent friends. You could include wedding favors, cocktail recipes or mixes, seeds to plant, custom face masks, decorated Yeti tumblers… your imagination is the only limit!
Test your internet connection beforehand
Every streaming service is a little different. Some work best with WiFi, some only work with WiFi. Others are fine with cell signal. Some will drop out and do audio only if the signal is not strong enough.
The best connection is a wired internet connection, but modern laptops may not have ports for this.
Even if your venue says there’s WiFi or you have full bars of signal on your phone, be sure to carve out some time to actually get a stream going with your desired live stream provider. This can fluctuate day to day or hour by hour, depending on network usage. So, if possible have a Plan B if any issues crop up!
Use speedtest.net to make sure that your upload speed is at least 10Mbps.
Going someplace wild for your small wedding or elopement? Live streaming may not be possible without a strong cell signal. So, consider filming on your phones and then uploading it later.
You could look into a mobile hotspot or using your mobile as a hotspot for your laptop. As ever, be sure to try it out all tech setups prior to the big day to avoid stress.
Make sure all your devices are fully charged before beginning
This is so important because ideally you don’t want to be charging devices while streaming! Not only is it a trip hazard but charging actually causes a low hum on the audio. Streaming eats up battery so make sure you start as close to 100% as possible.
Use the back-facing camera, not the front (selfie) camera
The contrast in quality between the back- and front-facing camera and night and day. Though it’s tempting to use the front-facing camera so you can see yourselves, don’t! You’re wasting the real power of your phone’s awesome camera, that’s across all models and type of phone. The back is where it’s at.
Test out your hardware
Technology is notoriously fickle, am I right?. It works perfectly when you really don’t care, and then it craps out for no reason whatsoever on the most important day of your life.
This happened at one of the weddings I photographed. The groom brought a huge screen from home and hooked it up to the laptop and also rigged it up to the speakers. Before we were 2 minutes into the ceremony, it stopped working.
We stopped proceedings, but nothing could get the laptop > monitor > speaker configuration working again. Luckily the internet connection was fine, but technology snafus are not something you want to face on your wedding day.
Invest in good audio over than good video
This was a tip I actually learned when I was starting my YouTube channel. OK, different type of video but the exact same rules apply!
Basically, the rule is this. People can put up with bad video – maybe the picture is a little grainy, dark or wonky – way easier than they can deal with poor audio. If the audio isn’t crisp and clear, people will not watch the video 😲.
So if you’re doing your own live-streaming, invest in a decent microphone before you go out and buy a top-of-the-line vlogging/ streaming camera. Honestly, your phone, tablet or even laptop is recommended as your live-streaming device. Very few people will notic if you’ve invested in a snazzy new mirrorless camera.
Plus, getting a DSLR or mirrorless camera to stream is MUCH harder than it should be. This is definitely a job for a professional videographer.
You’ll want either some cheap (but highly effective) lavalier mics – aka lapel mics. And you will also need to figure out how one device will pick up two lav mics and make sure the mics fit into your phone’s jack (may require both a splitter and an adapter).
Remember, while the phone has the mic attached, you won’t be able to hear anyone speaking on the stream if using a wired connection due to it using the same port.
I use the Purple Panda kit myself (for making my YouTube videos) and it’s the best! I’ve used cheaper ones but the sound quality and build quality here is unbeatable for such a small item.
While you’re there, check out some increds affordable finds from Amazon for your DIY downsized wedding!
Tweak and edit your audio and video afterwards
One thing I find helpful is that the audio needs to be polished a bit in order to be usable. When I make YouTube videos, I run the audio through Audacity, free audio editing software. I make some tweaks including compression, bass/treble boost, filter curve, normalization and noise reduction to get rid of the static sound.
It’s probably going to take a bit of tweaking to go from raw audio to something that sounds professional.
If you’re taking care of your video yourself, you’ll need to make sure the video is edited down to a manageable length, and that you cut the scenes to capture different angles if you had a multi-phone set up.
Matching up the video from multiple cameras to the audio can be a time-consuming task so I recommend a video editing tool that can make this easy!
Personally, I use the excellent (and totally free!) Da Vinci Resolve by Black Magic Design to edit videos for my YouTube channel and Instagram videos. I highly recommend it. It’s quite the learning curve but so incredible, it’s actually used for Hollywood feature films!
More tips on how to improve your live streaming audio
Because audio is such a huge topic, I have a few more audio livestreaming tips here that may be useful.
- Check for nearby devices which might cause interference like cell phones and speakers.
- Turn off fans or heaters, just while the livestream is taking place.
- Make sure music is not playing too close to the livestream mic.
- Position the microphone towards the voice you want to pick up, checking to see how your mic should be used (they all have different optimal distances and positions).
- Optimize further using settings from the manual for example a noise reduction feature.
- If you’re using a laptop, make sure the mic is plugged into the microphone jack and not the speaker jack. It’s an easy mistake to make as they are the same size.
- I also recommend unplugging the power cable before starting the livestream, making sure it’s fully charged first. Battery charging causes audio interference!
How much does it cost to livestream my wedding?
You can pay nothing at all to livestream your wedding, using only your existing devices and Google Meet, which is completely free.
If you want more of a done-for-you service, expect to pay anything between $1,000 for a decent package with LoveStream or well over $3,000 for a dedicated, professional local videographer who also offers livestreaming as an add-on service.
The difference is going to be night and day between something that’s free, using consumer-grade technology and equipment that you have to set up yourself, vs. a service that’s done for you and uses top-of-the-line equipment, with professional cutting and editing, as well as support if anything goes wrong.
There are lots of ways you can save money on your wedding. The important thing is knowing what your priorities lie. You are the one that can pick and choose where to allocate your funds. This is going to be different for everyone!
How much does LoveStream cost?
The current pricing that LoveStream offers is below. For LoveStream basic, it’s $450, then it goes to $950 for LoveStream Plus and $1,850 for LoveStream Premium. This is without the discount you’ll get (if you use my affiliate link 😉)
Please bear in mind that prices and package details are subject to change without notice. LoveStream is still pretty new, so make sure you check out the current pricing here.
From what I see here, it’s a no-brainer to go for either the Plus or Premium packages. And I honestly mean that, I’m not just saying it to get you to spend more! The basic package is really short for one thing, so if things are a little late getting started or overrun, you may run out of time.
Also it doesn’t include live guest support, only a chat bot, which in my opinion is hardly worth it, you may as well just have a friend or planner on site to help you – and save your money. Also it only includes one camera, which is easy enough to achieve by yourself.
Is it worth paying someone to do it for me?
Most definitely! I mean, if budgets are really tight, I get it. Sometimes we have to go with whatever’s cheapest because that’s the only option available. And I’ve been to weddings where it’s really just four or five people tuning in via Zoom, and it is not worth all the fanfare an expense of paying a pro.
But I would encourage you to dig a little deeper and consider this an investment in your wedding memories. And not only that, but it’s a way of involving all your friends and family in a way that will make them really feel part of your day.
Compared to what you’d be spending on a 300-person wedding (easily $70,000+ in California); spending less than a couple of thousand to include those 300 guests, is a drop in the bucket!
With fewer weddings these days enlisting the services of a professional planner, unfortunately livestreaming can be one of those things that quickly becomes an enormous stress. It seems easy, but the more you look into what’s required, the longer the list becomes.
And technology never quite plays ball when it matters – ever noticed that or is it just me?
Without a planner or a bunch of tech-savvy guests, it’s often the bride and groom who are left troubleshooting Zoom when they should be enjoying their wedding day!
I’ve seen it happen too many times now!!
To wrap things up
There you have it, guys. Everything you need to know about livestreaming your wedding with my personal recommendation and why you should consider using LoveStream!
Are you a wedding professional looking to recommend a wedding streaming service to your clients?
If you are looking to create content like this and join LoveStream’s affiliate program, sign up at the link below! 👇🏾👇🏾👇🏾
You’ll be able to earn on qualifying purchases and on other vendors who sign up for the affiliate program which is FREE for you to join.
Thank you so much for reading this far! You rock!