Live-streaming your wedding: Which service is best? (Updated for 2020)

Updated Nov 19 2020
Live-streaming your wedding: Which service is best?
Amanda and Jason used Skype on a smartphone with a tripod.
Hello!
For various reasons, our family won't be able to attend our wedding. Do you have any tips on how to go about live-streaming our ceremony and some of the reception?Help, please!
– Kat

Couples have been live-streaming their weddings for years, but love in the time of Coronavirus takes this concept to whole new realms. Some couples have postponed their 2020 weddings while others are embracing a digital ceremony. And after we're back in the world again, there will still be a need for someone to tune into a wedding over the internet.

Let's look at some options for virtually streaming your wedding — whether it's just Grandma using Skype or dozens (hundreds? thousands?!) of viewers on a live-streaming website. Then we'll run through some tips for making sure your wedding stream runs seamlessly.

Platforms for live-streaming your wedding

YouTube Live

YouTube is a free platform that allows live streaming with unlimited viewers and nobody will need a login to view your live-streamed wedding. This method is a little less private, but a lot more accessible. Bonus: YouTube will archive your wedding live stream automatically if it's less than 12 hours long, meaning you can re-watch it without having to manually upload it to an account. Don't worry, you can also change the privacy settings as you prefer.

Vimeo (formerly Livestream)

Like YouTube, Vimeo offers a live stream platform for unlimited viewers with feature-rich tools and a premium price. You can even integrate your wedding from Vimeo into platforms like YouTube Live and Facebook Live, which can be super useful if you already pay for a Vimeo Livestream account.

Both Vimeo and YouTube have integrations with apps like Joy, which add a level of control to your stream and integrate it with any of their invitation and guest list features.

Zoom

It's a good bet that you've heard of or been invited to a Zoom sesh for work or socializing. It's gone bananas and therefore might be popular enough for the general public to use it for a wedding ceremony. Zoom broadcasts onto a private cloud, but the free version limits your stream to 40 minutes and up to 100 guests. You can, however, pay a monthly fee (currently $14.99) for the Pro version that allows for a longer stream, and an additional fee for more guests. When you're tabulating your guest count, note that some families might be watching one screen, saving you some of those seats.

The best part is that your guests don't need to create an account to watch your live stream, they just need to grab the app on their phone or computer.

Facebook Live

Facebook is a platform with which most of your guests will be familiar, and anyone can watch regardless of whether they have an account or not, a feature recently added on mobile, too. It's free, allows for up to eight hours of streaming, and doesn't have a participant limit.

Skype

Skype is a free platform but only allows for up to 50 guests and was once so popular for live-streamed weddings that we created a tag archive for it. Skype is still a great platform for smaller groups and weddings where only a few guests want to watch online.

Amanda and Jason live-streamed their elopement using Skype, as did Andy and Cassie.

Google Hangouts Meet

Google Hangouts Meet integrates with Google's suite of products so many of your guests are probably familiar with the platform. They will need a Google login to join, though. Meet calls can have up to 100 participants and last up to 60 minutes.

The older Google Hangouts currently still exists (as of May 2020), but limits your participants to only 25 unless the plan is upgraded. The Basic plan allows for 250 guests.

Wedfuly

Wedfuly is one of a few apps that uses an existing platform (in this case, Zoom) to live stream your wedding while acting as tech support and concierge to your guests. They'll mute as needed, change music, and more including a virtual rehearsal. If you want to utilize Zoom as your platform but would rather not deal with the details and setup, Wedfuly will do it for you starting at $800.

Event Live

Event Live offers a live stream that can be as private as you like with unlimited guests, event reminders, unlimited re-watches, and more starting at $50 per event. Your guests don't need to download anything to watch the ceremony which is a huge bonus.

Other social platforms for a wedding live stream

Many more social platforms offer a way to live stream a wedding including Instagram Live, Twitter Periscope, and Twitch, though you'll need to make the call on whether your guest list is savvy enough for your selection. Some even require a specific device, like FaceTime which requires everyone to have an Apple device.

Live-streaming your wedding: Which service is best?
Andy and Cassie talking to their virtual guests!

Tools for your live-streamed wedding

Here are the tools you'll need to live stream your wedding:

  • A good camera or webcam: most smartphones have cameras capable of providing a high-quality experience, so don't feel like you have to buy an expensive camera. Just pick the device that has the best one, whether its a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or an actual camera.
  • Microphone: while not required, especially if your ceremony is indoors, a mic will help your guests hear everything you're saying without wind or background noise getting in the way. Wireless lavalier mics work well in this setup.
  • Tripod: A camera tripod or standing tripod will give your viewers much less nausea than having someone hold it the whole time.
  • Internet connection: whether it's good wifi, ethernet, or your phone's data (make sure you have enough!), a stable connection is required.

Live streaming wedding tips

  • Video quality is contingent on the camera, your internet connection, and the service you're using. Some of the services only let you stream at a certain quality on their free plan. Play around with some different options to see what works best for you.
  • Make sure your virtual attendees know how to get to the page where you'll be streaming the wedding. Decide how you'll share the link with them: email, Facebook update, via a guest list app, etc.
  • Have someone monitoring the chat, muting when needed, and answering tech questions, so you don't have to play IT helpdesk at your ceremony. Plan to backup the video to a site like YouTube just in case someone gets disconnected or there are technical issues.
  • If you're doing a public stream on social media, watch out for copyrighted music that could get your stream blocked. Consider having someone mute the mic on the device during the music.
  • Password protect your stream if you're concerned about privacy or security issues (which have been a problem with some video conferencing sites).
  • Give all of your guests time to test the setup prior to the event starting. Remember that some of these options necessitate an account ahead of time. Make sure your virtual attendees have this set up before the day-of.
  • Have everyone grab a drink to share a toast if you want some guest involvement. If there's time before your wedding, consider sending a care package to your guests beforehand.
  • Charge the device you'll be using and make sure the internet works and that you have enough data, if not using wifi or a direct connection.
  • Disable any sleep mode or screensaver functions on the device.
  • If you're using a laptop at an in-person ceremony, you could save a seat for it.
  • Obvious advice is obvious: test your setup multiple times to make sure it works, and to learn to troubleshoot any mishaps that could occur.
Live-streaming your wedding: Which service is best?
Save a seat for your virtual guests! Photo by Jonas Seaman

For those of you livestreaming your weddings, which streaming services are you using and why?

  1. We used UStream to stream our wedding. We were actually able to embed the viewer directly onto our wedsite, so people could watch it there (or click through to watch on ustream's website, if they wanted)

    Some people said it worked, and some people said it didn't though. I'm not sure why :/

  2. My friend just ustreamed her wedding and it was amazing! Her BIL used an iPhone to film it. Only issue with the iPhone was the sound pick up, so I'd suggest seeing if there's a way to either have whoever or whatever is filming close, or see if there's a mic attachment.

  3. We've had several of our clients live stream their weddings, usually for grandparents or other family that couldn't attend for whatever reason. It's great that consumer tech gadgets will allow this, but it usually comes with a lot of frustration in actually getting everything to sync and work properly… but the results are always worth the effort! Thanks for putting this article together. Definitely going to be a pin for our couples to access in the future! Thanks, Jayson and Rachael

  4. Excellent EXCELLENT article!

    So you made no mention of the wedding-based broadcast site i.e. IdoStream, my Streaming Wedding, etc. Are they offering anything beyond what the more generic sites you've listed offer? What would be the reason to use a wedding oriented site…if any?

    • Hi Barbara! I did come across IdoStream in my research. The reason I didn't include it was because it's actually a service you pay for, like a videographer. And I didn't think the website looked that great, to be completely honest. But! If anyone has good experiences with services like these, we'd love to hear it!

  5. Wow, thanks so much for all these options!

    Both of our parental sets really want to have a videographer even though my fiance and I are like "eek! video and camera following us around all day?! panic!" One of their main reasons is for people who can't be at the wedding. The only person I'm really sad about not being there is my grandad who can't fly, but maybe we can work something out with one of these sites. I love the photo with the laptop on Skype in a chair like a guest. Ideas, ideas…

  6. It's such an innovative idea! And not so difficult to do. I can't be on the wedding of my best friend, because of my health problems. But now I know how to resolve it! Thank you for inspiration 🙂

  7. Thank you so much for putting this post together! My family in Abu Dhabi and Texas will be able to watch in real time!

  8. Awesome Post! My fiance and I are getting married on the beach. I am worried about the virtual guests not being able to hear. Do you have a recommendation for any external webcams?

    • Nema, I read your comment about the virtual guest not being able to hear. For them to hear well you'll need to have wireless audio set up. They'll have to be a wireless mic on either the groom, officiant, or if your voices will be amplified through a sound board then a connection (wired or wireless) to the sound board. That audio source will then need to be connected to what ever is streaming the video. You may run into some audio sync problems if not done right though. Hope that helps!

  9. If the video is private, do we still need to mute it during the music because I would love to also broadcast our first dance.

  10. You can live stream your wedding using tools like R-HUB live streaming servers. It streams real-time collaboration to participant’s browsers over the Internet on any devices including PC, MAC, iOS and Android mobile devices.

  11. My daughter is getting married in Kinsale Ireland, I want to stream for friends and family that are not able to make it. Is there anyone that has had success with a international streaming and if so any tips would be soooooooooooooo appreciated.

  12. Live Streaming can be complex and can add one more thing for the bride and groom to worry about. There are so many companies that are now offering this service especially into today's covid environment. When you hire a professional live stream company you get people who know how to pick the right angles, get the right audio, and make sure all the guest online can view the stream.

    A big thing with live streaming to just a social media account or another platform is that you have to sign in or download something to access it and this can just be another barrier to entry to live streaming a wedding with positive results.

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