For the many brides and grooms who chose to tie the knot during a global pandemic, their wedding was truly an adventure happening in uncharted waters. After all, there was simply no precedent to follow when trying to plan a “COVID wedding.”
To share the stories of couples that took on the next step of their journeys together during such an unprecedented time, The Desi Bride decided to look back on a year in micro weddings.
This is part two of a two-part series.
Just because you have a limited guest list doesn't mean that other friends and family won’t want to tune in to your micro wedding, especially in the age of this pandemic. But how can you navigate virtual settings in Desi weddings, when there are numerous ceremonies and each one is so complicated? Though planning an engaging and intimate ceremony for both virtual and in-person audiences may seem impossible, The Desi Bride has gone behind the scenes to discover new and creative ways to make your mico wedding a success.
Let’s take a look at the brilliant ways in which Deepika and Rathna were able to engage their virtual audiences at their COVID-friendly Desi weddings.
Rathna and her husband made sure their virtual guests and in-person guests were both equally able to leave their well-wishes to the newlywed couple by incorporating a virtual guestbook. They linked the guestbook onto their wedding site and allowed their guests to upload video messages onto the site. According to Rathna, making sure only she and her husband had access to the videos meant that people were comfortable sharing their heartfelt messages with the bride and groom. Once the videos were compiled, Rathna said accessing her wedding day memories became as easy as clicking on a link.
“Now we don't have to bring out a book and dust it off or anything,” Rathna said. “We can actually watch those messages.”
The videos are no doubt a wonderful way to relive your happiest moments in full color. As the world becomes more digitized, virtual guest books are here to stay -- not to mention, very easy to incorporate into a wedding, even one that isn’t a virtual event.
For Rathna, this was a great way to COVID-proof her wedding as well and helped her avoid the usual crowds around guest registries in Desi weddings. After all, she wanted to avoid sharing potentially contaminated surfaces and didn’t want her guests to feel pressured to be in close proximity to others. “People didn’t have to crowd around a book, a pen, or look for a pen,” Rathna explained.
Live streamed Desi weddings have been common place even before COVID and will likely continue to be adopted by couples moving forward. As a result, it was very easy for Rathna to get her wedding videographer to livestream her ceremony.
“The videographer said, ‘Oh, yeah, we do this for all weddings in general, even before COVID,’” Rathna said. “And so he already had the equipment ready to go.”
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Not only is livestreamining a must when you’re undertaking a COVID wedding with so many friends and family unable to attend, but it’s also a feature that can help bridge the gap with family members -- whether they be in South Asia or elsewhere.
“A lot of people in very different parts of the world who normally wouldn't even have attended the original wedding we planned in India were able to tune in,” Deepika said.
Of course, it might not be in your best interest to expect attendance from your guests at every event. Deepika, for one, said the different time zones of her guests were a challenge for her as she navigated the live streaming of her micro wedding between the U.S. and India.
“Unless it was early in the morning or later in the evening, the time zone difference was something that we had to work against,” Deepika said.
However, with her parents still in India, Deepika went forward with live streaming as a way to ensure they would be able to tune in to all of her events they were awake for. For the events that would more important to her parents, like the actual ceremony and the sangeet, Deepika chose timings that could bridge the gap between her wedding location in Dallas and her parents in India.
Rathna, who has family in all parts of the world from India to Canada to Kuwait, said that using live streaming made it easier to narrow down her micro wedding guest list because, technically, everyone had an invite to her virtual wedding. Going from a 400-person guest list to a 30-person intimate wedding ceremony was difficult, but live streaming wedding events made that decision easier.
“The best part ever was how we could accommodate a lot of people and not have to say no to anybody,” Rathna said.
Although both brides agreed that livestreaming technology was not 100% reliable, Deepika said her wedding went as smoothly as she could have asked for.
“There were still moments here and there where there were technical interruptions,” Deepika admitted, “But very few from everything that I heard from our guests.”
When Deepika realized her parents wouldn’t be able to attend her wedding, she said she had to come to terms with a “traumatic reality.” From day one, Deepika’s mission became putting her best effort into involving her parents with every event --- even while they were a thousand miles away.
In India, Deepika’s closest family members that weren’t able to make it to her COVID wedding reserved their own event space and dressed up for her wedding, and a live feed from their side of the globe was directly connected to a virtual screen in Deepika’s Mandap in the United States. “We worked with the decor and our A.V. vendors, including Vellora Productions, and everyone made sure that there was a screen where it looked like in all the pictures that my parents were seated on the Mandap with us,” Deepika said.
But it wasn’t just their image popping up on the screen -- Deepika was able to request bi-directional communication from her Audio and Video team to ensure that her parents could directly communicate with the in-person guests. This meant that they were able to give their speeches at their daughter’s virtual wedding as planned.
Ultimately, Deepika’s dream of having her parents on the Mandap came to life because she embraced technology as a way to engage her distant guests.
With her parents and other relatives from India set up in a different venue on the other side of the world, Deepika wanted to be able to include them in the events that mattered the most for them.
For this, Deepika wanted to ensure that they weren’t just watching the wedding’s events but actively taking part in them.
One of the biggest events that involved this kind of bi-directional communication and live engagement in Deepika’s wedding was the sangeet. Instead of doing a full-blown open dance floor, Deepika had already opted from an event that would involve chanting prayers together with time for only one or two dances.
However, her sangeet celebration was far from dull. Instead, Deepika was able to ensure that the singing from one end of the globe was heard in the other, and the different sides (her parents in India and she and her groom in the U.S.) were able to dance to each other’s performances.
“They had some guests on their side with a mic and everything, and they sang some songs for us,” Deepika said. “And while they were singing, we were dancing to their songs, and vice versa.”
To enable this bi-directional communication, Deepika worked with Vellora Productions, one of the most popular videography vendors at The Desi Bride. According to them, Vellora Productions was able to work directly with the team India during Deepika and Akash’s wedding, creating true virtual collaboration across continents. They also worked with a mixture of traditional live streaming and Zoom technologies, which is what allowed guests from all over the world to give speeches at Deepika’s microwedding.
While there aren’t as many guests in a COVID wedding as there would be in a regular wedding, the smaller and more intimate ceremony can work to your advantage when your guests are more easily able to pitch in during your wedding.
Desi weddings can be full of small tasks -- from fetching water to rearranging ceremonial rice --- that add up to create a beautiful, intricate ritual. With a smaller guest list, your attendees are likely to volunteer themselves to help the ceremony progress smoothly, as Rathna witnessed during her micro wedding.
“In-person involvement is not typical when you go to pre COVID weddings where you’ve got to do your own thing, and only certain people can get involved and that was it,” Rathna said. “But now, the entire guests were involved”
Rathna added that getting her guests involved in the ceremony made her microwedding feel even more intimate and homey than she could have hoped for.
When talking to our friends at Vellora Productions, we heard their message loud and clear: microweddings and live streams are both here to stay.
David and Felipe, the twins behind Vellora Productions, both said that livestreaming has made it possible for anyone from everywhere to attend weddings. Because of this, they see digital trends increasing as more and more couples look for high-production value weddings.
According to them, millennials and younger generations seem focused on quality over all else. Upcoming weddings are going to be known for their intimacy, personalization, and attention to detail.
As more and more young couples take the lead in wedding planning, David and Felipe have seen a decrease in overall guest lists and larger investments in decor and production. Aesthetics, quality, and exclusive experiences are the biggest trends to look out for -- so stick with us at The Desi Bride to learn more about modern South Asian weddings, and how to navigate planning your own.
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