With the country starting to emerge, once again, from lockdown, we have been looking forward to what this means for weddings. As restrictions are still in place until at least the end of June, those getting married in the first half of 2021 will be looking for ways to include their guests who cannot attend. Live streaming means loved ones can still be part of your special day, even if it’s not physically! So, we spoke to Sam and Steve Photography who shared their expert knowledge on how to include live streaming in your wedding.
Image by Sam and Steve Photography
Before the start of the current COVID-19 pandemic, live broadcasting a wedding ceremony for friends and family to watch along from the homes would have been thought of as something only for the rich and famous to arrange. However, the current pandemic has meant more and more couples are approaching us to live stream their wedding.
Once weddings were allowed again in the 2nd half of 2020, couples had to make difficult decisions on their guest list, to limit their wedding numbers to 30 and then 15 only. This inevitably meant many loved friends and family were not able to attend on the day. With so many of us spending more and more time on video applications such as YouTube, Facebook Live, Zoom or Skype, live streaming weddings became something we got asked for on a regular basis. This article is to help couples understand their options and what is possible if they want their wedding to be broadcasted live.
Check your internet connection
Before looking at the various options, a fundamental question to answer before committing to live streaming is the availability of a broadband internet signal at your wedding location. Most, but not all, civil wedding ceremony venues will have wifi available, but fewer churches or other places of worship. An alternative is using a 3G/4G device such as a phone or tablet to provide tethered internet. However, some more remote locations may not even have this. It's worth checking with your venue before investigating suppliers for streaming.
Image by Sam and Steve Photography
Should you DIY or use a professional?
Assuming an internet connection is available, the next consideration is whether to arrange a DIY wedding streaming or use a professional service. A decent modern smartphone will be able to provide a good quality video stream over Zoom, Facebook Live, or YouTube, ideally placed on a tripod, to avoid shaky coverage. However, it is unlikely, once weddings initially resume, that a guest or member of the wedding party would be allowed to stand at the front of the ceremony to operate a tripod-mounted phone.
Additionally, whilst the video quality might be acceptable, the audio is likely to disappoint as the microphone needs to be close to the sound source. Using a phone on its own is likely to broadcast quiet and/or echoey sound. It also puts additional responsibility on a member of the wedding party and will undoubtedly impact their enjoyment of the day.
For these reasons, we would recommend using a professional streaming service. This can sometimes be provided by your videographer, if you have one, or, as in our case, your photographer. We have streamed over 15 weddings now, both weddings where we also photographed, or when the couple had already chosen another photographer.
Consider which platform you use
The next question we ask our wedding streaming customers is usually “what platform do you want your wedding to be streamed over”? In other words, what app do you want your viewing family and friends to watch along on?
One option is to use a social media app such as Facebook Live or YouTube. (Note, YouTube now requires people who are live streaming over their services to have 1000 subscribers on their YouTube page). The benefit of using these platforms is simplicity for the viewer. Most people can access YouTube and many Facebook over a phone, computer, or even through smart TVs. The downside is that the broadcast is one way. Whilst your viewers can see what is going on, the couple can’t see their guests.
If our couples want us to broadcast over YouTube or Facebook Live, we use a special camera called a Mevo. This is a small (mobile phone-sized) tripod-mounted camera that can be wirelessly connected and streamed by using a mobile phone or tablet only. No computer is required, or power or data cables connected. It, therefore, makes an ideal streaming choice for church weddings, where mobile phone data is usually the only option, and where the minister normally would not welcome a laptop computer and cables during the service. The Mevo has a built-in memory card slot, so we can provide an HD recording of the ceremony from the camera if required.
Image by Oliver Holder Photography
If the couple would like to be able to, after the ceremony, see their online guests and wave and chat to them, we then recommend using Zoom for the streaming, for a two-way broadcast. We use one of our Sony full-frame cameras connected to a laptop via an HDMI to USB converter. This allows Zoom to “see” the camera as a webcam. This gives a very high-quality video feed into Zoom. An alternative is to use an HDMI to USB switch device, such as the ATEM Mini we use. This allows up to 4 cameras to be connected into Zoom, for a true multicamera outside broadcast experience. For example, a tripod mounted camera at the front of the ceremony, another at the rear, and a third on a balcony above the ceremony. This allows us to switch camera angles (for example, as the bride enters) to give a more immersive experience for the viewers.
After the ceremony, the couple can then come over to the laptop to interact with their online guests. Again, we can record the ceremony from the cameras, as well as a lower recording using the Zoom app, and even edit the video to include some of the guests on Zoom in the final edit. This approach does require a laptop to be used, ideally with a larger monitor connected, as well as one or more HDMI cables to be connected to the camera(s), which would need permission from the venue.
The importance of audio
Regardless of the choice of platform and camera set up, it is important to use a quality audio setup so that the online viewers can also hear clearly what is going on. We use small Rode wireless microphones and receivers. Usually, one is clipped onto the groom (it is black, and 3cm wide and long) and with an option for another (white) mic on the bride, vicar or registrar or even placed on a lectern to pick up the voice of someone making a reading.
Image by Sam and Steve Photography
Streaming beyond the ceremony
Additional options include live streaming speeches if any. We recommend scheduling these to a separate stream if later in the day or arranging for them soon after the ceremony. So, your online guests won't be left waiting too long. We also intend to add a wireless HDMI camera to computer streaming, which would allow a “roving camera” approach for confetti, drinks receptions, etc. Although, this is a significant increase in both equipment cost and complexity.
In summary, live streaming your wedding is a great way for guests that can’t attend the day in person, due to health concerns, distance, or government restrictions, to join in and feel involved. Potentially, you can also see and speak to them as well. Even when the current pandemic restrictions are, thankfully, a thing of the past, live streaming is likely to still be a popular request in the future.
Thinking about live streaming your wedding? Create your own wedding site with us where you can keep your loved ones updated about all your wedding plans and you can live stream your celebration through Zoom!