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How To Live-Stream A Wedding

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If you are planning a wedding anytime soon there is a good chance that some of your important friends and family might not be able to attend the wedding day in person for a number of reasons. It is harder than it has ever been to get all the important people you care about to attend your wedding in person.

Luckily for us, modern technology makes it easy and affordable to live-stream your wedding so that anyone anywhere in the world can share your special day with you. 

Here we cover the steps to take when planning on live streaming a wedding.

wedding ceremony of bride and groom and celebrant being live streamed.

Step 1 – Venue equipment

1 – 2 months before the wedding day
This is the very first thing you should do because, if there isn’t any Wifi or cell signal at your Wedding ceremony, live-streaming it simply won’t be possible.  But you could still video it and share online later that day/week once you have access to decent Wifi

  • Thoroughly research the wifi/internet situation at your wedding ceremony location.
    • If you are using an indoor wedding ceremony venue, check with the venue to see if they have Wifi and if you are allowed to use it.  If you are, get the Wifi network name and password from them and ask them what upload speed their internet is and if they have a data cap.  (Download and upload speeds are almost always different with the upload speed being the slower of the two.  It is the wedding location’s upload speed combined with your viewer’s download speed that are two of the biggest factors in determining how good the live-stream quality is).
    • If you are planning an outdoor wedding ceremony check that there is network coverage at the location. If the cell signal is poor or non-existent, your only option will be to video the ceremony and stream it later, whether it’s later that day or later that week/month.
  • If you are using an indoor wedding ceremony venue, check out the mains power outlet options at your wedding ceremony venue.  
    • Are there any power outlets near where you will set up the live-streaming camera?  Is the outlet live?
    • Will any other vendor/anybody else be using that outlet on the day?  (Eg sound system, lighting etc).

Step 2 – Types of Live Streaming Options

1 month before the wedding day
Assuming you do have a decent Wifi/cell signal at your Wedding Ceremony Location, you have 3 main Live Streaming Options;

  1. Total D.I.Y.
  2. Semi-Pro
  3. Pro.  

Here are the pros and cons of each, what equipment you will need and how to choose the Live-Streaming option that is right for you and your wedding ceremony location.

Total D.I.Y.

This is where you are using free hardware and software and a friend is taking care of the live-stream for you on the wedding day.

Total D.I.Y. is going to be your cheapest option but probably the middle option in terms of stress and hassle and generally speaking will give you the poorest quality results.  

As an example, the most basic and easiest DIY set-up option would be simply somebody trustworthy holding a phone live-streaming to Facebook Live using either the available Wifi or their own mobile data.  This particular set-up would give the worst possible results though – shaky hand-held footage, terrible audio, possibly lots of issues with the live-stream depending upon the speed of the internet connection.

Essentials

  • A good Wifi or cell signal at the ceremony location (without it, live-streaming is impossible although you can use the same setup to record the ceremony and stream it later when you have a decent internet connection).
  • A recent model iPhone or Android with a decent camera and good battery life.  
    • I am unfamiliar with Android phones but if you’re using an iPhone 6 or later the image quality should be decent.  Battery-life on iPhones, on the other hand, is notoriously short…
    • Don’t use an iPad if you can help it because they are HUGE and will be very distracting both to your guests and in your wedding photos.
  • A live-streaming service like Facebook Live. 
  • A backup plan in case there is a problem with the live-stream (ie the ability to record the wedding and stream it later if the live stream fails – make sure the phone you are using has plenty of storage space on it for this purpose!).
  • A charger or power supply for the phone.  Live streaming will chew through your battery fast and you don’t want the phone to run out of juice halfway through your vows!
Optional Extras (but so worth it!)
  • (Optional) A trustworthy, tech-savvy person to be your “live-streaming wizard” (L.S.W. from now on).  
    • As well as being trust-worthy and tech-savvy, this should be somebody that is guaranteed to actually make it to the wedding and somebody you don’t mind asking to “work” a little bit during the wedding ceremony.  Eg you probably won’t want to give this job to your dad or your brother as you will want those nearest and dearest to you to be able to focus fully on the wedding ceremony without any distractions.
    • This person should be very familiar with whatever hardware and software you plan to use to live-stream your wedding.
  • (Optional) A tripod with a smartphone mount
    • Ideally, you would have/rent a tripod that extends to at least shoulder height (1.5 metres+) with a smartphone mount like the Joby Griptight One Mount.
    • If you just can’t spring for a shoulder height tripod, as a last resort a Gorillapod (again, made by Joby – I’m not on commission honest!) with a smart-phone adaptor on it MIGHT work.  But unless you are happy to plonk it on the ground (where it might fall or get knocked over or just be a terrible angle), you will be totally reliant on having something relatively high like to attach it to.  Also, keep in mind that it is REALLY hard to set up and check your shot with a ground-mounted tripod – you have to basically lie on the ground to view the shot.
  • (Optional) A lens converter for your smart-phone to make your shot tighter.  Most smartphones have pretty wide lenses designed for selfies that show a big landscape behind you.  So, when you shoot a ceremony with one from the back of the aisles, you will likely see a fair bit of guests as well as the bride and groom.  It would be nice to zoom in more on the bride and groom but often when you do so you lose image quality.  A lens adaptor for your smartphone can help.  Here’s a helpful article reviewing some of the top iPhone lenses/lens adaptors on the market today.
  • (Optional) An external microphone for the live-streaming phone like the Movo Smartphone Video Rig.

Semi-Pro

This is where the person you are using to manage the live-stream is doing it for free/a friend, but you are using a paid live-streaming service of some kind to facilitate the whole thing.  

An example of this might be that you are getting a friend to live-stream the wedding with their phone but are renting a tripod and buying an external microphone for the phone to give you better quality audio and video.  I haven’t included the option of using a video camera to live stream your wedding as it gets a LOT more complicated and expensive and frankly, I think it will likely be less hassle and expense to get a pro to take care of everything for you.  However, if you are interested in live-streaming using a video camera or DSLR there are some handy tips in a similar blog post I published recently on my Fallon Photography blog here.

Essentials
  • A good Wifi or cell signal at the ceremony location (without it, live-streaming is impossible although you can use the same setup to record the ceremony and stream it later when you have a decent internet connection).
  • A recent model iPhone or Android with a decent camera and good battery life.  
    • I am unfamiliar with Android phones but if you’re using an iPhone 6 or later the image quality should be decent.  Battery-life on iPhones, on the other hand, is notoriously short…
    • Don’t use an iPad if you can help it because they are HUGE and will be very distracting both to your guests and in your wedding photos.
  • A live-streaming service like Facebook Live. 
  • A trustworthy, tech-savvy person to be your “live-streaming wizard” (L.S.W. from now on).  
    • As well as being trust-worthy and tech-savvy, this should be somebody that is guaranteed to actually make it to the wedding and somebody you don’t mind asking to “work” a little bit during the wedding ceremony.  Eg you probably won’t want to give this job to your dad or your brother as you will want those nearest and dearest to you to be able to focus fully on the wedding ceremony without any distractions.
    • This person should be very familiar with whatever hardware and software you plan to use to live-stream your wedding.
  • A backup plan in case there is a problem with the live-stream (ie the ability to record the wedding and stream it later if the live stream fails – make sure the phone you are using has plenty of storage space on it for this purpose!).
  • A charger or power supply for the phone.  Live streaming will chew through your battery fast and you don’t want the phone to run out of juice halfway through your vows!
  • A tripod with a smartphone mount
    • Ideally, you would have/rent a tripod that extends to at least shoulder height (1.5 metres+) with a smartphone mount like the Joby Griptight One Mount.
    • If you just can’t spring for a shoulder height tripod, as a last resort a Gorillapod (again, made by Joby – I’m not on commission honest!) with a smart-phone adaptor on it MIGHT work.  But unless you are happy to plonk it on the ground (where it might fall or get knocked over or just be a terrible angle), you will be totally reliant on having something relatively high like to attach it to.  Also, keep in mind that it is REALLY hard to set up and check your shot with a ground-mounted tripod – you have to basically lie on the ground to view the shot.
  • An external microphone for the live-streaming phone like the Movo Smartphone Video Rig.Optional Extras (but so worth it!)
  • (Optional) A lens converter for your smart-phone to make your shot tighter.  Most smartphones have pretty wide lenses designed for selfies that show a big landscape behind you.  So, when you shoot a ceremony with one from the back of the aisles, you will likely see a fair bit of guests as well as the bride and groom.  It would be nice to zoom in more on the bride and groom but often when you do so you lose image quality.  A lens adaptor for your smartphone can help.  Here’s a helpful article reviewing some of the top iPhone lenses/lens adaptors on the market today.
  • (Optional) A local mobile hotspot like this TP unit if your phone is not local to NZ.  (If you use an overseas phone for the livestream and there is no Wifi, the roaming data will cost you an arm and a leg).  Make sure that the mobile hotspot you choose is using the mobile carrier with the best cell signal at the wedding ceremony location as per your research above.Pro

You are either hiring a wedding vendor to take care of all aspects of the live-streaming and provide all the necessary hardware and software, or you are using a service like Watch My Wedding.

Essentials
  • A good Wifi or cell signal at the ceremony location (without it, live-streaming is impossible although you can use the same setup to record the ceremony and stream it later when you have a decent internet connection).
  • A backup plan in case there is a problem with the live-stream.  This might mean preparing for the D.I.Y. or Semi-Pro options as a backup in case your live-streaming pro option doesn’t work out for any reason.

Step 4 – Choose the Live-Streaming Option that is Right for Your Wedding

1 month before the wedding day
Answer these questions and the best live-streaming option will hopefully become obvious;

  1. Will there be fast, unlimited Wifi or a very strong cell signal at your ceremony location?
  2. Can you easily and cheaply tee up a power supply for the phone to prevent a flat battery?
    1. Will there be a power supply at the ceremony location close enough to plug the live-stream camera into without metres and metres of ugly and trippable extension cord?
    2. Do you/any of your guests own a portable battery pack compatible with the live-streaming phone?
  3. Do you have somebody trustworthy and tech-savvy you can appoint as your Live Streaming Wizard?  
    1. Will they definitely be at the wedding?  
    2. Do you feel comfortable with them having “a job” to do and not being able to focus fully on the ceremony?
    3. What equipment does your L.S.W. have experience with?
  4. Are there any local companies offering professional live-streaming services?
    1. Are they available?
    2. Do they seem reliable?
    3. Will they work with your budget?
  5. Are there any companies offering live-streaming setups that are mobile (like Watch My Wedding) that you can use?
    1. Are they available?
    2. Do they seem reliable?
    3. Will they work with your budget?

Step 5 – Run an off-site test of your Live-Streaming setup (D.I.Y. or Semi-Pro options only).

2 weeks before the wedding day
It’s important to test your D.I.Y. or Semi-pro live-streaming setup and to do so early enough before the wedding that you have a chance to replace/fix equipment and software if there is an issue.  For this reason, do this test at least 2 weeks before the wedding and if you have to do it off-site (ie not at the actual wedding venue) then so be it.

  1. Do a live stream test with the actual phone and actual L.S. W. you will use on the wedding day to make sure that;
    1. The audio setup will actually provide decent audio.
    2. The live-streaming service (Facebook Live etc) you want to use will work.
    3. The human in charge of the live-stream (L.S.W.)  knows how to log in to the live-streaming account and record if the live-stream encounters any errors
    4. Remote viewers can actually see and hear everything ok on the live-stream feed from their end (test it with somebody viewing from a different location).
  2. Make a schedule of what you will live-stream and when and where.  Then, if there are any changes on the day, notify viewers via the live-streaming platform you are planning to use (ie messaging the Facebook Group you have created for your Facebook Live stream).

Step 6 – Run an on-site test of your Live-Streaming setup (D.I.Y. or Semi-Pro options only).

1 – 3 days before the wedding day
It’s important to test your D.I.Y. or Semi-pro live-streaming set up at the ceremony location itself so you know everything is going to work properly on the day.

  1. Do a live stream test at the actual wedding location with the actual phone and actual L.S. W. you will use on the wedding day to make sure that;
    1. You can connect to the Wifi or have a good enough cell signal for the live-stream to work.
    2. There is a power socket in the wedding ceremony venue that is live and close enough for you to plug the phone into if you don’t have a portable power pack for it.
    3. The audio setup will actually provide decent audio.
    4. The live-streaming service (Facebook Live etc) you want to use will work.
    5. The human in charge of the live-stream (L.S.W.)  knows how to log in to the live-streaming account and record if the live-stream encounters any errors
    6. Remote viewers can actually see and hear everything ok on the live-stream feed from their end (test it with somebody viewing from a different location).

Step 7 – Wedding Day Setup of your Live-Stream (D.I.Y. or Semi-Pro options only).

1 – 2 hours before the wedding ceremony start time
It’s important to set up and run a final test of your D.I.Y. or Semi-pro live-streaming setup 1-2 hours before the ceremony start time so you know you will be ready to start live streaming when the time comes.

  1. Do a live stream test at the actual wedding location with the actual phone and actual L.S. W. you will use on the wedding day to make sure that;
    1. You can connect to the Wifi or have a good enough cell signal for the live-stream to work.
    2. There is a power socket in the wedding ceremony venue that is live and close enough for you to plug the phone into if you don’t have a portable power pack for it.
    3. The audio setup will actually provide decent audio.
    4. The live-streaming service (Facebook Live etc) you want to use will work.
    5. The human in charge of the live-stream (L.S.W.)  knows how to log in to the live-streaming account and record if the live-stream encounters any errors
    6. Remote viewers can actually see and hear everything ok on the live-stream feed from their end (test it with somebody viewing from a different location).
  2. Get your L.S.W. to start recording the Livestream 10 minutes before the action kicks off so that viewers have time to log in and he/she can sort any last-minute niggles.

Summary

Live streaming a wedding can be very stressful if you do not plan out everything you need before the day of the wedding.

Hopefully this guide will make you feel confident in the type of live streaming option you will perform on the big day and that you have everything covered to deliver a great experience for those that could not make the wedding in person.