What are the rules when you're a virtual wedding guest?
A little over a year into the global pandemic means most of us have likely been invited to at least on virtual social event. Livestreaming intimate weddings or incorporating an online aspect is becoming more and more normal and expected. But when you are invited to a virtual intimate wedding, is it the same as being invited physically?
Now that almost all contact with our friends and family is through screens, many of us are putting less of a premium on online events. Should we treat a virtual intimate wedding the same way we would treat a virtual catch up with friends? What is the etiquette? Below are seven musts for attending any virtual event.
1. Check if there’s a dress code and follow it.
Many streamed intimate weddings take the time to document online guests, that means whatever you are wearing to attend their wedding will be part of their wedding photos. The couple will very likely appreciate the time and effort their guests put into preparing for their big day. Another good reason to dress up a bit, if there’s no dress code or if turning on your camera will not be requested by the couple is to hype yourself. The monotony of working from home and quarantining has often made us more lazy to dress up, so we say take every excuse to bust out your special occasion clothes. Who knows when the next one will be? Getting yourself excited for a loved one’s big day can also make up for any sadness you might be feeling for being unable to attend physically. If you are attending as a family, it’s a good time to squeeze in some photos too since you’re already all dressed up!
2. Come on time.
Much like weddings offline, we always make it a point to arrive at weddings on time. It should not be any different for virtual intimate weddings. We understand that it is tempting to, given that you are at home and it only takes a few seconds to open up your computer or setup your device. But consider that this is part of showing your love and respect to the couple who invited you. Plus points, it’s fun to chat with other guests pre-wedding just like you most likely would have done if you were all attending a wedding together.
3. Give a gift.
Online wedding invitations often include details on gift requests from the couple. In the same way that our highly connected new normal makes attending weddings easier, so does giving gifts. If the couple requests for monetary gifts, make sure you have their bank or online wallet details. If they have registered or have a wishlist, try to arrange for buying and delivering your gift until two months after the wedding. If cash flow is tight these days, as is the case for most, don’t worry too much about how much to give or the amount of your gift. There are many ways you can still “gift” or bless newlyweds, like sending a home cooked meal to their home once they’ve settled in, or buying small items for the home that’s overlooked in registry but are important. You can also bless them through favors–newlyweds will always be happy to be remembered by their loved ones.
4. Ask before sharing.
Some couples specify whether or not they prefer that their wedding be shared online while it happens. Despite livestreaming becoming a norm these days, there are still couples who will prefer to be the first to announce online that they’ve tied the knot. If this is not spelled out in the wedding invite, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Especially if you enjoy sharing your daily life on social media.
5. Your background matters.
Rule of thumb–consider the same things you would before turning on your camera for virtual work meetings. Can the couple see your face or faces or is it too dark? Can the couple see the other members of your household they might not know personally and might feel awkward seeing when they drop by zoom? Again you may want to consider that if there is a zoom link, it will likely be recorded as part of the couple’s documentation for the big day. So you may want to do away with things you prefer not to be documented forever, a messy room, family members in their house clothes, etc.
6. Mute yourself.
A standard by now but still worth mentioning. Put your mics on mute when you enter the virtual rooms and wait for instructions from the host if you are allowed to unmute. You may also refer to the wedding program if available, to see if there is any portion of the wedding where you will be requested to unmute and be given a chance to interact with the couple in realtime. Couples have different programs for their virtual weddings which means attending one doesn’t mean you’re likely going to have the same experience for the next one you are invited to.
7. Be fully present.
Being at home means it is easier for us to multitask while our webcameras are turned on. We have practically had an entire year’s worth of experience. But think about how the couple would feel. Put yourself in their shoes. The wedding of our loved ones is worth carving out time in our day and getting rid of all distractions. You would have most likely done the same if you were attending physically, blocking off a day or half a day to attend. Now that you’re likely setting aside less time because there is no travel time and even primping is quicker, there is really no reason for us not to soak up the day with the couple. After all, their wedding is something they put much effort into. It’s still only proper to express our love and support by being fully present even from behind the screens.
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Photo from Unsplash.