How to Be a Great Virtual Wedding Event Guest

For guests invited to a virtual wedding, etiquette isn't always obvious. Here's everything you need to know about attending a virtual ceremony—from gift etiquette to technical questions.

By Maggy Lehmicke

virtual wedding guest etiquette
Photo by Zola

Planning A Wedding During A Pandemic: Every wedding planning journey has its twists and turns. To make sure your path is as smooth as possible and to help you keep an eye out for tiny potholes and giant roadblocks, always follow the advice of your local health guidelines and the recommendations set forth by the CDC. The state of the pandemic can change quickly, but by staying informed, you can make it to your destination—wedded bliss—without a hitch.

With quarantine and social distancing throwing many engaged and wedding planning couples for a loop, virtual weddings have stepped up to the plate. Since these all-digital ceremonies are somewhat new in nature, the ins and outs of virtual weddings can not only be a bit complex but unfamiliar to many.

If you’ve never attended a digital event before, there are plenty of tips and tricks to push beyond the awkwardness and make it enjoyable for everyone in attendance. What’s most important is to acknowledge the reason you’re there—the couple themselves—and embrace the moment as-is.

Below are a few general rules and considerations for anyone attending a virtual wedding.

Follow the typical RSVP protocol.

Just because everything is online doesn’t make the wedding any less official. RSVPing on time is a simple way to acknowledge the hard work that your loved ones have put into their special day and show your appreciation for being included.

If a “change the date” was sent, make sure to double-check for any changes to RSVP instructions. If the couple has a website, that’s often a good place to start as well.

Show up on time.

Again, digital weddings aren’t an excuse to be nonchalant or informal. The couple has likely made a lot of changes to their plans and special arrangements so you could see them on their big day, quarantine and all. By showing up on time, you’re paying your respects to the couple and their hard work. Plus, who would want to miss out on any of the virtual fun they have planned?

virtual wedding Photo Credit // Unsplash

Send a gift.

If the couple has a registry or cash fund, it’s a good idea to consider giving them a gift. Chances are, the couple still invested a lot of time, money, and energy to making the virtual day happen, even if you couldn’t be there in person.

Purchasing something from their registry (no matter how small) is acknowledging the investment they made and helping them work toward a future together. Just make sure not to feel guilty about the size or cost of the gift. Particularly in these unique times, it really is the thought that counts.

Follow the dress code (or ask for it if there wasn’t one).

It doesn’t matter that you’re attending the wedding from the comfort of your own home. Dressing in the appropriate attire helps set the ambiance for the event and is a great way to show your respect for the couple. This includes following any traditional wedding “rules,” including straying away from wearing white. If you think the couple won’t notice that you’re in your sweats or wearing the same color as the bride, you’re probably mistaken.

Remove all distractions.

Phones, TVs, food, and work can all wait until after the ceremony. This is not the time to multitask. Be engaged and create an environment without distractions. If you’re worried about your dog howling at the delivery person or your kids doing acrobatics in the background, make sure to express those concerns with your family members and set aside a quiet spot in your home where you can observe the wedding in relative peace.

If this simply isn’t a possibility for you (hey, we get it), then you can always leave your video off to limit any potential distractions. Just make sure to let the couple know your plan in advance so they don’t think you’re simultaneously eating ice cream and binging Queer Eye instead.

Mute yourself!

Though someone on the organizing end might do this for you, it’s best to make sure you’re on mute before the ceremony starts. If you’re not all that tech-savvy or are using a platform you’re unfamiliar with, make sure to ask for advice or do some reading in advance so you don’t disrupt the ceremony after it starts. Then, remember to unmute yourself if it’s time for the reception or your turn to give a speech.

Remember, this isn’t your wedding to share.

As tempting as it may be to post that screenshot of the couple’s first kiss to social media, let them be the first ones to share their big moments with the world. It’s thoughtful to check with the couple first to see if they’re OK with posting anything until they do.

If they were initially opting for an “unplugged” ceremony, then they might prefer their guests to simply be engaged and let a professional photographer handle the rest.

And though it shouldn’t have to be said, please do not share the video link with anyone who wasn’t invited to the wedding. That’s not your job, and your loved ones are sure to notice when 900 people are suddenly streaming their event.

virtual wedding Photo Credit // Unsplash

Send congratulations.

Even if the couple is passing on gifts, sending some type of congratulatory note—whether it be a handwritten letter or a short video—is a great way to show your support.

With social distancing and quarantine having swallowed the first half of the year, any way to express your gratitude, excitement, and appreciation for your loved ones is much appreciated, especially those who have had to make the difficult decision to move their celebration online.

Pay attention to any additional directions (and follow them!).

Being punctual, following the dress code, and keeping the attention away from yourself are all some of the more obvious rules to adhere to. However, make sure to read all the details on the invitation and acknowledge any additional requests.

If the couple sent along a cocktail recipe for you to enjoy during the ceremony, then go ahead and make yourself a drink in their honor. If they asked for each person to send in a song request in advance, please do. Every little thing counts when it comes to virtual weddings, so just make sure to read the fine print and be as respectful as possible.

Virtual weddings and ceremonies are becoming more and more common. So keep this guide to virtual wedding guest etiquette handy as you and your loved ones attend more of these types of celebrations.

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