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I live streamed my wedding. Here’s how you can, too – The Washington Post

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On my wedding day, I had a ring, a bride and a smartphone streaming every syllable of my awkward vows onto the internet.

To be clear, I wasn’t just chasing clout. Planning any wedding is a pain, but ours came with a crucial wrinkle: Some beloved friends and family were either too sick, or too far away from idyllic Iowa, to attend.

The answer was clear. We had to go live.

In-person weddings have bounced back to pre-pandemic levels, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But broadcasting a wedding online is a more accessible option for loved ones who can’t make it, and even some local governments are throwing their weight behind wedding streams.

Actually pulling it off, though, required a little more prep than I expected. Here’s how I did it, and what you should know if you’re streaming a big day of your own.

Pick the right platform

Just like the in-person venue, choosing your online streaming venue is a crucial decision.

Our advice? Go where your audience already is. Maybe that’s Instagram, which makes it easy to go live if your account is in good standing. For others, that could be Zoom or Facebook, where you can invite remote viewers to a private group and live-stream there.

YouTube and TikTok are solid options, too, as long as you’re popular enough.

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YouTube, for example, doesn’t allow users with fewer than 50 subscribers to go live. I wasn’t even close, so that was out. (In hindsight, maybe we should’ve printed “Smash that subscribe button!” on our invites.) Assuming you’re over 18, you’ll need around 1,000 followers on TikTok before you can go live there, which was also a non-starter.

Consider what kind of social experience you’ll want. Do you want guests to be able to see each other and cry together? Zoom’s grid or a mass FaceTime call would be better than, say, a one-way YouTube stream.

My biggest priority, however, was making sure even deeply non-techie folks could watch my wedding with a minimum of fuss — which ultimately led me to Twitch.

The benefits are pretty straightforward. You send guests a link, and they can tune in from a web browser on their computer or phone. They don’t need an account or any additional software to watch your wedding unfold.

If this all sounds like the last thing you’d want to deal while preparing to get married, well, we get it. So do companies like EventLive, which — for about $69 — offers specific tools and support for streaming in-person events. Others, like LoveStream, focus more on multicamera streams and offer remote production assistance. Those perks will cost you, with prices for their packages starting at $550.

Get your settings right

Once you’ve chosen your platform, you’ll probably have to make some tweaks.

For example, because there’s no way to create a private stream viewable by people without Twitch accounts, I opted to create a new, dedicated channel for the wedding. And in an attempt to prevent random bored Twitch viewers from stumbling onto my big day, I opted not to give the stream a title or a category, either.

To save a copy of the stream to view (or download) later, you’ll need to dig into Twitch’s settings to make sure the “Store past broadcasts” option is enabled. (For some additional privacy, make sure the “Always publish VODs” option is turned off.)

Unless you’re a Twitch affiliate, partner or Twitch Turbo subscriber, your saved streams will only linger for seven days. Otherwise, you’ll find the video is gone forever — like I did, when I logged back into Twitch in the middle of my honeymoon a few days too late. (Sorry, dear.)

Whatever app you’re using, check to see if there are privacy options to set, stream quality modes to choose from or options for switching between a phone’s multiple cameras.

How to live-stream your wedding

With those big decisions out of the way, all that was left was to perfect my streaming setup.

I could have just set up a laptop nearby and used its webcam (or a nicer stand-alone webcam). I also toyed with the idea of a more complicated rig — I called it the “overkill system” — using a camera I specifically use for Zoom meetings and a fancy, chunky audio recorder.

For simplicity’s sake, though, I finally decided to stream directly from my iPhone 15, and the results looked more than good enough.

Before the big day, though, there are six things you’ll want to do to make sure everything looks — and runs — as well as possible.

Sort out the sound. Your viewers will want to hear your vows, not just see your outfits. Your DJ, if you have one, may be able to help you figure out the best audio setup for your stream. Ours couldn’t, so I opted for an external USB-C microphone with a floofy cover that cuts down on wind noise. If that’s not in your budget, consider keeping your streaming setup near the participants, or speakers if they’re being used.

Pick your position. If you want to capture the full scene including guests, place your camera further up the aisle, if your audio setup allows it. You could also position it near your officiant, for a closer look at the happy couple. Neither of these felt quite right to us, so we removed a few chairs from the front row of seats and captured the ceremony from an angle.

Do some speed tests. You’re going to need a solid internet connection to ensure your nuptials look their best on screen, so make sure you’re getting good data speeds on the phone you plan to stream from. (We like Speedtest by Ookla for these tests; an upload speed greater than 10 Mbps is the ideal result.) If your mobile connection isn’t doing the trick, try your wedding venue’s WiFi network, if it has one, or hotspot off a phone on another wireless carrier.

Prop up your phone. A tripod with long, extendible legs and a mount for a phone is the ideal choice to ensure stable footing — and to make sure the happy couple isn’t being captured from below.

Run a test stream in advance. Do this during the rehearsal, if you can, to make sure people are audible and you’re happy with the phone or camera’s position.

Designate a stream captain. The late afternoon light was perfect. The seats were filled. I looked fantastic, and so did the wedding party — but I forgot to ask someone near the front row to launch the stream. A few frantic texts from my best man prompted someone to do the honors, but I really should have asked a cousin in advance.

In the end, all this work let just five additional people watch us get married. But weddings are about making a commitment in front of the people you love, and I wouldn’t have wanted to do it without them.

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