How to Throw a Virtual Wedding Reception Your Guests Will Remember


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How to Throw a Virtual Wedding Reception Your Guests Will Remember

If you're saying "I do" in virtual ceremony don't let your wedding day end after the first kiss. Instead, consider this: A virtual wedding reception to celebrate with guests following the live-streamed ceremony! This type of event is not your average wedding reception, so to help you plan a virtual party your guests will be talking about long after logging off, we’re taking a peek behind the screens with industry expert Jeff Stillwell, an event planner who has perfected the hybrid event.

Read on for a step-by-step guide on how to plan an immersive virtual reception your guests will love!

Virtual Reception Etiquette
Who Throws a Virtual Wedding Reception?
Commonly, a combination of the couple’s parents will “co-host” the virtual reception. Stillwell says that in today’s world, however, many couples decide to throw the virtual wedding and celebration themselves.

When Do You Throw a Virtual Wedding Reception?
“Even the most traditional ‘non-virtual type couples’ are realizing how some type of a digital component makes sense right now,” Stillwell says. “I feel that the future for most weddings and events will be a combination of a part live/part virtual celebration as this may also be the perfect plan for a couple who never wanted a big (and expensive) wedding.”

Who Gets Invited to a Virtual Wedding Reception?
Since virtual wedding receptions are still novel, one of the benefits of this event type is having no hard and fast rules dictated by tradition. You can literally plan this wedding however you like and invite whomever you want! Many keep the in-person guest count low, consisting of close relatives and friends, with virtual invites going to distant relatives and work friends—no feelings hurt, no budget bloated.

Do You Need to Send Formal Invitations?
Stillwell feels strongly that a virtual wedding reception should include an actual mailed invitation (not an evite), as he says it’s important to send virtual guests something tangible, especially for an event as important as a wedding.

Should You Include a Dress Code?
Having a dress code can help set the tone for this momentous occasion and create a sense of togetherness for all of the guests. Stillwell says “the more the virtual guests can be in line with the live guests, it simply makes for a better party!”

How Can You Make Virtual Guests Feel Involved?
It’s a nice gesture to mail each virtual guest a surprise package the week of the wedding. Based on your budget, this can be as simple or grand as you’re able, but think: a beautifully wrapped box with a mini wedding cake, small bottles of Champagne and a program to follow during the ceremony. You can also organize virtual toasts, although Stillwell recommends limiting this to two live and two virtual toasts, no longer than five minutes each.

Do You Still Need a Cocktail Hour?
If the hosting venue has two rooms equipped with projection you wouldn’t need to have a cocktail hour. This allows live guests to move directly to the dining room after the ceremony with a quick camera angle switch for virtual guests. If only one room is equipped with the necessary technology, you would likely need a cocktail hour to flip the space from the ceremony venue to the dining room. During that time, you can still imbibe with virtual guests by sending them a recipe card of your signature drink or having cocktail kits delivered to their home.

What Happens During Dinner?
If budget allows, your entire event can be conducted with both the live and virtual guests enjoying the full experience with delivered catering. For a leaner budget, the run of show may consist of the first dance, followed by a few dance songs that everyone can enjoy, speeches, cake cutting (with virtual guests enjoying their mini version at home) and then the online celebration would conclude with the couple saying goodbye to the virtual viewers.

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