FAMILY & PARENTING

Wedding Experts Share The Do’s And Don’ts Of Virtual Wedding Etiquette As They Gain Popularity

by Angela Andaloro

As the conditions around in-person gatherings continue to be assessed, many people are turning to virtual gatherings, including virtual weddings.

People are finding ways to celebrate occasions both big and small.

For many couples who have had to postpone their celebrations, virtual weddings are becoming an appealing option. These couples are finding new and creative ways to celebrate their love until the time when getting together can be safe and enjoyable.

Family and friends are eager to show their support, but this is a pretty new arena. What do you wear? What kinds of gifts are expected? There are a lot of different situations and questions that can arise.

It has many people wondering what the etiquette around virtual weddings is.

Thankfully, experts from The Knot and WeddingWire have the answer to all your burning questions. Figure out everything from what to wear and what to expect so you can be the best attendee at any virtual wedding.

Virtual weddings are becoming a much more common decision for couples who are looking to get married and want a way to share that with family near and far. Since they’re such a new kind of event, however, people are confused about what’s expected. Most people don’t want to inundate a busy bride and groom with their questions, so LittleThings has drummed up some answers for you.

So what are the biggest ways virtual weddings differ from the in-person event, besides the obvious?

“We expect virtual components will continue to be an important part of weddings moving forward amid COVID-19. Many couples recently have embraced what The Knot is calling the ‘minimony.’ The minimony is the small ceremony with virtual elements involved to celebrate a couples’ original wedding date — with a larger celebration planned for later in the year or in 2021. Consider it a prelude or kickoff wedding to multiple festivities ahead,” explains Esther Lee, senior news editor at The Knot.

“Since it’s a mini rendition of couples’ weddings, the minimony brings another great style component to life: the original wedding vision. Couples are encouraged to work with their wedding planner and vendors to add fun decor and design elements that may eventually be incorporated into the larger postponed celebration,” she continues.

“This can include having the cake baker create a mini wedding cake, ordering a small floral arrangement from the florist, or even hiring the photographer to come and capture the special occasion from a safe social distance. We’ve seen an increased interest in minimony wedding dresses and outfits too — whether you plan to marry in your original gown and plan to wear it again and again for your subsequent parties, or you think up a more casual-yet-chic, alternative outfit option for this smaller occasion, the ways to personalize this moment are endless too.”

There are a lot of different events that make up someone's wedding experience. Since people need to keep their distance right now, are more streamlined celebrations becoming the norm?

A WeddingWire study proves that, actually, bridal parties are finding ways to make bachelor and bachelorette parties still happen. The study found that half of couples are rescheduling their bachelor and bachelorette parties, while one-quarter are sticking to their plans.

For some couples, they’ll celebrate their bach after their wedding. Some 20% of couples were OK with changing up the order of things. The celebrations that are happening now are definitely more intimate, lower key, and closer to home.

When you're attending a virtual wedding celebration, whether it's the wedding itself or a shower, many people are wondering what the rules are with gifts.

bridal shower gifts

There are so many unique situations. For some couples, virtual weddings will substitute an in-person celebration. For others, it is the prequel. Esther says it’s one of the biggest questions The Knot has gotten this year:

“This is one of the biggest questions we’ve received in 2020 from couples and guests alike. Even if there are two weddings, there’s still one recommendation we give at The Knot — and that’s to gift off a couple’s registry. The reason for this is simple as the couple has taken the time to select products for their registry and it’s likely filled with things they, the to-be-weds, genuinely want and need. (Say, a Dyson vacuum for the addition of their new adopted puppy.)”

wedding gifts

“If a guest is interested in gifting cash, the great news is that registering for cash has become increasingly common over the years. In fact, nowadays one in five couples on The Knot Registry create a cash fund for any and all newlywed needs, including honeymoon expenses, personal hobbies, even a wine club subscription, which has been a popular choice among many to-be-weds in 2020,” Esther continues.

“Ultimately, it’s up to the guest to determine the generosity of their gift, whether that be two gifts or one. The timeline is ultimately up to the guest as well, though we generally recommend attendees have up until two months after the wedding to send gifts to the couple.”

“As more couples host a minimony, or smaller wedding ceremony on their original wedding date ahead of their postponed reception, the same two months post-wedding gifting timeline applies to the couple’s new wedding reception date,” she explains.

“Imagine, however, what it’s like to receive something off your registry on your original wedding date or on the date of a minimony, especially as couples navigate COVID-19’s impact on their wedding plans. That’s one way to feel the support from your friends.”

Another question many people have is about what to wear.

Virtual does not necessarily mean casual, so be sure to check the usual places for cues.

“Much like an in-person wedding, guests should look to the couples’ invitation for clues, even if it’s an e-vite or a text with a Zoom link. If a couple is planning on wearing wedding attire or dressing up for their minimony, guests should do the same to take part in the celebration,” Esther advises.

“And remember, it’s likely guests will only need to match the formality of the event from the waist up! We recommend accessorizing with a cute headband, a pair of chic earrings, or a fun bowtie as you’re gathered in celebration.”

Many people love taking photos at a wedding. Are there different rules for virtual ceremonies?

wedding photos

Esther suggests following the couple’s wishes, which will likely be made known.

“As with a real ceremony, all the typical etiquette should be followed. So if a couple requests that no photos be taken, it’s important to follow their wishes. It’s likely that the couple is getting married virtually because they’re unable to do it in-person, so extend any courtesies possible to make their wedding day extra special,” she notes.

“If, however, the couple requests you use their hashtag and enjoy their virtual photo booth, by all means, rush into the chatroom and do it for the ‘gram. The couple will, most certainly, appreciate that you took advantage of the virtual options too.”

When it comes to being a good guest, follow your instincts as you would at any other gathering. “Be a good guest — similar to what it would be like in person. Log on at the designated time and follow any requests of the couple including attire, bringing something to toast with us, and more,” Esther suggests.

“Also, be attentive and respectful, congratulating the couple at the appropriate time. There may also be a virtual receiving line or the couple may invite guests to share well wishes in the chatbox.”