Help - I need to Livestream my wedding!
Where do I start?
You want to make sure you're getting the best value, but you're not even sure what to ask. If you're feeling a little lost or overwhelmed at the idea, you're not alone!
While the technology behind live streaming setups can range widely, and the best setup for you may not be the best setup for someone else, here's a helpful list of things to think about when considering what live stream services are right for you.
This one is simple and straightforward, and if you're here then you've probably already considered it, but the camera makes a big difference, so it needs to be #1 on the list. A camera with attachable lenses like a DSLR or Cinema Camera (like we use) means guests can get a closer view of the action and feel much more 'present'. A built-in camera on a phone, laptop or ipad won't cut it except in the simplest and smallest of situations. Is your ceremony literally the two of you standing at a small table, signing a document? If so, a laptop or tablet camera will be fine. Will you have guests in the room, or other people speaking? Will the camera be more than 5 feet away? Then it's probably best to opt for a professional camera, sent through a laptop or other livestream rig. Then, of course, there's the number of cameras. One camera means a straight on, medium or wide shot of the action, two or more cameras can be more expensive, and more work, but can provide a more broadcast-like experience, allowing guests to see different angles, including close ups of you and your partner as you speak your vows, shots of musicians or those doing readings, or other important things that would not necessarily been seen in a straight on profile shot.
Every couple has a different set of needs and desires from their live-stream. Where you choose to stream will affect how it's done, and what you can get from it.
Lots of people are used to it now, and have it on their devices.
It allows you to see and speak to your guests in real time, making them feel more a part of your day.
It requires bi-directional traffic, translation: it's not always doable depending on the internet connection.
It has a more 'improvised', less 'polished' look and feel, and will only be in SD rather than HD no matter what camera is used, so it's best for truly micro weddings.
If you've got a lot of virtual guests, it can get hectic and confusing trying to talk to all those people at once.
Can be streamed on almost any device from anywhere, including being embedded on a custom website.
HD quality streams.
You can't see or hear your guests or their reactions.
Can be streamed and shared right to your page, so everyone you know can watch it and be alerted.
It's a social platform most people are familiar with.
Guests must have a facebook login.
You need to grant access to your page to a tech if you want it to stream directly on your profile.
Facebook changes and updates how it operates a lot, which sometimes can create issues with live streaming reliability, particularly when trying to plan far in advance.
3. Internet Source
Where does it come from? What's the difference?
When it comes to internet, the best option is always a high-speed hardwired ethernet connection. This would be provided by your venue or location, and so it requires a conversation with them in advance.
Second best is a realiable WiFi connection, also likey provided by your venue. It's easier for them not to have the cable, but is slightly less reliable and therefore a little riskier. The advantage is it still avoids using cellular which is costly, and can be unreliable depending on the location and method of connecting.
The gold standard of mobile broadcasting - when you're outdoors or in a venue without a reliable local connection - is bonded cellular. What this means is two or more cellular services are used simultaneiously and 'bonded', making it faster than one on its own, and less likely to drop out. Sometimes this is better than WiFi, even on its own, but if WiFi or a hardwire is available, most bonded cellular modems can use those as an additional source, for an even stronger connection.
Single Source Hot Spot
This is the lowest grade connection, but the cheapest option when the venue or location cannot or will not provide reliable internet connectivity. Perhaps you're getting married in the middle of a field, or the venue isn't willing to give you access to their network. While single hot spots often suffice in areas with good cell signal, there's always risk of drop off or lag, especially in areas with spottier service.
This one is also straightforward, but something people often forget about. Your phones, ipads and even cinema cameras don't have great sound when positioned far away from the source. That means if your camera is more than a couple feet from you, people will struggle to hear you or your officiant speaking. What we suggest is:
A wireless mic on at least one of the people getting married
A wireless mic on an officiant
A wireless mic on anyone else speaking, or a handheld mic for others to each speak into, placed on a stand.
Those all need to be run into a mixer and fed in to the stream separately.
5. How Do Guests Attend?
This is kind of a bonus tip, but something I like to think adds a nice finishing touch.
While you can always go the whole "send a link to the stream" route, something we do for all the weddings we stream is create a simple custom landing page to direct your guests to. There, they can see all the info they'll need, including links, dates, times and any updates. When streaming from youtube, the stream is embedded right in the page itself. It makes it more simple for you, and nicer for them. See a sample HERE
Hopefully, this has given you some tools to help think about and speak to your vendor about what YOU will need. Is there something else you want info on that's missing? Other thoughts or problems you've encountered? Let me know in the comments and I'll answer your questions or update here!