Since the COVID outbreak the world has changed. Now we are thinking of socially distanced weddings, limited numbers of guests and generally changing the way weddings are celebrated. For the short term at least. Regardless of COVID & socially distanced weddings, there are always going to be people that can’t make your special day – elderly relatives, for example. So finding a way to include them and allow them to celebrate with you remotely, will make them very happy.
I’ve had a lot of people asking for advice on how to live stream a wedding, so I thought it would be a good idea to put together some options, so you can see what is involved, what you need to buy and how you go about live streaming your wedding.
I researched all of these options with a view to adding this as a service to our own wedding photography and videography coverage, so I thought my research might be helpful to you. Whether you’re looking into live streaming your own wedding, that of a friend or relative – or perhaps you’re a professional considering adding it as a service to your own business.
From the simple and free option of streaming using a smartphone and Facebook live, to more expensive options involving purchasing a router and a dedicated camera and a few points in between.
It can get complicated fast and I hope to clear up some of that confusion and provide options tips and suggestions of what equipment you would need all the items I suggest are easily available on Amazon.
First up I’ll offer some tips on the process, and at the bottom I’ll recomend some gear to get you streaming like a pro.
Etiquette: Live Streaming to reduce guest numbers
Live streaming is a last resort – not a way to cut costs. Outside of COVID times couples may try to reduce their guest list as a way reducing the costs and lower a burgeoning budget, but I’d like to say before I write this guide, that live streaming should only be used as a way to include people that couldn’t attend for whatever reasons – distance, ill-health, government limits on numbers, risk of COVID etc.
Offering a live stream of your wedding to people as an alternative to an actual invitation is just a bit insulting. If you want to limit your numbers due to your budget, that’s completely fine and a great way to reduce costs – there are quite a few other ways to reduce the cost of your wedding – but offering a live stream instead isn’t the best way to go about it.
Tip: Include the Feed watchers!
Watching a live stream is a bit weird, we get it – so be sure to make your live stream feel included – go over and say hi to them at points during the day! If you use Facebook live or similar, there will be an opportunity for your virtual guests to leave messages and it will be great to go and read through those messages at various points of the day.
Tip: Dress Up!
Encourage them to dress up, join in the toasts and celebrations at home! If they take and share selfies of themselves enjoying your live stream, they’ll feel more a part of the day. You can even include their selfies in a weddinh album or similar – both celebrating the day and the embracing the relative strangeness of the live stream!
Tip: Local live streaming
If you’re limited in the numbers of guests you can have inside your ceremony location – the church for example, why not live stream to outside! You can have those that weren’t allowed in gather (adhering to social distancing guidelines if appropriate!) and watch outside either via live stream or via a local stream to a TV you provide.
Some churches, venues already have the option – ask them! Our local registry office offers live streaming, so we’re sure many venues will!
Another thing to consider is that your photographer our videographer may already be set up for this – or at least have the equipment available – ask them!
How To Live Stream a Wedding : What You Need
1. Simplest/cheapest option – Smartphone/iPhone
By far the simplest and potentially cheapest option is to just use an iPhone or similar, on a tripod, using an app like Skype or Facebook Live.
Skype – Skype has limitations on numbers and ideally, it would be from one device to another – so is perfect if your guests will all be watching in the same location.
Facebook Live – It’s free and anyone you chose to share it with can watch from any device – they can also leave comments and interact, thus promoting the feeling that they are a part of your day!
The drawback of the iphone/tripod/app route is that it’s data-heavy – so make sure you have a good data allowance or consider a SIM router.
If the area is 5G connected and your phone is 5G, you might find the quality is higher and the process is generally smoother and easier. But, If you’re in an area without good mobile signal you may struggle – your venue may be able to offer internet access, but it’s not something you can always rely on.
If you’re going this route – you’ll want a Tripod!
2. Laptop + webcam (or for better quality, laptop linked to a ‘real’ camera!)
If you have a laptop, you might find you can set it up somewhere and use the webcam and Zoom or Skype to live stream your wedding.
Often this will rely on the venues internet (which, as mentioned before is possibly unreliable!!) but the benefit is that you may be able to get an ethernet connection straight into their router – thus eliminating some of the unreliability stemming from the wireless internet or cellular data connections.
If the venue doesn’t have internet, or won’t give you access, you can consider a SIM router to provide your own internet over the mobile data network – again the cellular networks are unreliable, but at least you control it and aren’t relying on your venues internet connection.
You can get SIM routers that have multiple sims to boost your connection speed and quality, but again – this relies on you having a good mobile signal and in some rural locations or churches this might not be available.
You can also connect a camera straight to your laptop to increase the quality.
The added benefit of using a laptop and an external camera is that you can get wireless Lapel mics and feed the audio into your set up – boosting the quality and clarity of your audio.
It’s a complicated set up without a knowledge of video recording and production – but completely possible. We love these RODE Wireless GO’s – https://amzn.to/3fEbyo4 – essentially, you clip the transmitter to the belt of the person speaking – plug a Lapel mic into it, the other half, the receiver goes on camera and the system does the rest.
3. Dedicated live stream camera (Our Favourite option!)
You can always buy something like a GoPro HERO7 Black & use this with Facebook Live. This increases your quality and also increases the flexibility of your set up as you can put your go pro almost anywhere.
GoPro HERO7 Black: https://amzn.to/2Zs0zJ1
- The reimagined shape is more pocketable, and folding fingers at the base let you swap mounts quickly.
- Vloggers, pro filmmakers and aspiring creators can do more than ever imagined—with quick-loading accessories like flashes, microphones, LCD screens and more.
- Rugged + waterproof to 33ft (10m)
- HERO8 Black has three levels of stabilization—On, High and Boost—so you can pick the best option for whatever you do.
- Capture killer 12MP photos with improved HDR—while in motion or stationary—with reduced blur and serious detail even in low-light areas.
- Live Streaming in 1080p – Share while you’re there. Live stream in 1080p on social, get HyperSmooth stabilization as you broadcast via the GoPro app and save footage to your SD card to check out later.
Again this requires either access to venue wifi, a mobile hotspot (you can create one with your phone) or a dedicated Sim router.
An alternative to a GoPro would be something like a Mevo plus – a dedicated live streaming camera. They’re easy to set up, and reliable – but as with any of the options, the limitation is the internet connection.
MEVO Plus: https://amzn.to/2DA0cn2
- Stream to all platforms: Facebook, YouTube, Livestream, Periscope, Twitter and Vimeo in up to Full HD 1080p from virtually anywhere over Wi-Fi or LTE.
- Edit with ease, in real-time: Using the Mevo App, your mobile device is now your personal video editing suite – zoom, pan and cut with ease, all from a single camera & app. Available for Android (6 or higher) and iOS (9.3 or higher)
- Go live—and stay live: 802.11ac Wi-Fi chip with 2×2 MIMO antennas delivers faster data transmission speeds, stronger Wi-Fi performance and increased range
- Stunning video quality: 150 degree all-glass Lens and Sony 4K/12MP CMOS sensor enables recording in stunning 4K or streaming in up to full 1080p HD
- Built-in audio, or customise as needed: Features built in stereo microphones, plus the ability to plug in external audio for crystal clear sound
The Most Complicated, but highest quality Setup
The most complicated setup, but the best quality, is to use a separate camera (or multiple cameras). We love the Sony A7III’s and wireless lapel mics. By feeding them all into your laptop you can pull together multiple angles, audio streams and create a really slick broadcast. However, the limiting factor again is the internet connection.
Bringing your own by way of a Teltonika Router or similar is the best way to go here for on-location work – but the ultimate solution would be to have a hard-wired network connection to a fast, unlimited connection. Which brings us on nicely to the next section –
Problem Solving: Bringing your own Internet Connection
With all of our set-ups, the limiting factor is always the internet connection. If you were somewhere with a fast internet connection with no data limits, then getting a LAN cable into that would be the ultimate solution. But the chances of this happening at alot of weddings is slim and you may need to provide your own connection.
The simplest option, and the worst – is to use your mobile as a wireless hotspot.
The drawbacks of this are:
- Will drain your battery rapidly (you’ll need to plug it in!)
- Will eat through your data in no time (you’ll need an unlimited tariff!)
- Will drop out and has high potential to be unstable, thus reducing your quality
Outside of using your phone, you have a few other options – like a 4G router –
Simple 4G Router – TP Link MR6400 SIM Router:
This is a great bit of kit, it lets you put in a SIM card and then creates a network for you – far more robust than your mobile hotspot, but still very much at the mercy of the cell coverage in the location you’re filming.
- 4G LTE – Ideal for sharing your 4G LTE network with up to 64 Wi-Fi devices and enjoy download speeds up to 150Mbps and 50Mbps upload speed
- Backward Compatible – Compatible with 4G/3G/2G network
- Superior Dual-Band Wi-Fi – Combined wireless speeds up to 300Mbps over 2.4GHz, and 867Mbps over 5GHz
- Plug and Play – Just simply insert a SIM card and turn it on to enjoy a fast wireless connection, no configuration required. System Requirements: Microsoft Windows 98SE, NT, 2000, XP, Vista or Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10 MAC OS, NetWare, UNIX or Linux ,Internet Explorer 11, Firefox 12.0, Chrome 20.0, Safari 4.0 browsers or higher, or other Java-enabled browsers Micro SIM Card
- Easy Bandwidth Management – Advanced QoS makes it easier for you to manage the bandwidth of connected devices
More complicated Router: Teltonika RUT955
A step up from the TP-link router above, the Teltonika is a heavy-duty bit of kit and offers multiple SIMS for maximum reliability and speed. The multiple SIMs will allow you much faster speeds and much greater reliability than a single SIM device. But again – if you’re working in an area with no cellular coverage, it won’t be much use, so check before the big day.
- Teltonika Dual SIM 3G/4G M2M router
- 4G/LTE up to 100 Mbps Download and 50 Mbps Upload
- EEE 802.11b/g/n WiFi with 2×2 MIMO up to 300 Mbps
- Four Ethernet ports
- Durable aluminum housing
I hope this little guide has given you some ideas for live streaming your wedding!