“We did think about an in-person wedding for a long time,” said Tinaglia, a teacher based in Manhattan. Even before the coronavirus pandemic practically ground the wedding industry to a halt in 2020, the couple had been seriously contemplating a small in-person wedding since their engagement, so they could spend their money on a down payment for a house instead of a lavish ceremony. After years of going back and forth, the pandemic made their decision easy.
“The resurgence was a concern,” Tinaglia said of the highly transmissible Delta variant. “We didn’t feel right asking people to endure the expense and emotional trauma of traveling to New York.” They reached out to Denver-based online wedding planning company Wedfuly, which partnered with Zoom last March to provide a virtual wedding option for its customers, to help them plan their Aug. 13, 2021 wedding. The intimate wedding was held in a small Manhattan hotel room with five in-person guests and 106 virtual. Like many companies, when the pandemic hit, Wedfuly quickly pivoted to add virtual events to their packages, adjusting to the ever changing protocols and mandates of each state.
Caroline Creidenberg, the founder of Wedfuly, said the pandemic created a “huge learning curve” for her team, forcing her to “become an AV person overnight.” Like many other wedding planners, she’s had to figure out ways to make Zoom weddings fun and interactive, as opposed to “a lifeless livestream.” Not everyone in the wedding industry embraced Zoom wedding planning so wholeheartedly. Longtime luxury event planner Marcy Blum, whose clients include LeBron James and Savannah Brinson and Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent, said she made a conscious decision not to pivot to Zoom-only affairs. “That’s not why I got into events,” she said.
Blum, who has been planning lavish weddings and parties for 36 years, instead focused on scaled down, in-person weddings that included a virtual element to adapt to the times. She incorporates open air tents and HEPA filters, and brings on staff members who can help the less tech savvy virtual guests figure out their Zoom links. She’s also sent cocktail kits and mini wedding cakes in the mail to virtual guests, to make them feel included. “It’s not inexpensive, but it’s touching,” Blum said.
At the start of the pandemic, Zoom weddings were often thought of as a sad alternative to throwing a live event where you can celebrate your union in the same space as family and friends. Now that we’ve gotten used to the idea of gathering via screen (and the Covid variants are harder to contain) — maybe virtual weddings are here to stay. With the pandemic still very much in our lives, maybe a grandparent doesn’t feel safe flying across the country, or a friend feels pressure to attend a wedding in person. Those are pretty good reasons to keep Zoom packages as an option.