Tips for Livestreaming Your Wedding

Nicholas Youngblood
Jessica and Katie Morrison used Zoom to include guests who couldn't attend their Aug. 22 wedding at The Barn at Heather Glen.

This story first appeared in the spring/summer 2021 issue of Columbus Weddings, which published in December 2020.

For many couples this year, the big day wasn’t quite as big as they’d hoped. As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, couples hosting micro-weddings have turned to livestreaming as a way to make sure their extended network of friends and family are still included. 

Although it may seem as simple as propping up a tablet and turning on Facebook Live, livestreaming a wedding is best left to the professionals. Horror stories abound of would-be virtual guests not knowing whose Facebook profile is hosting the livestream or being unable to find the Zoom link as couples muddle through the logistics of setting up video amid the other chaos of a wedding day. 

Julie Hedrick, co-founder of Blue Skies HD Video and Film Productions, and Josh Staley of Josh Staley Productions are two Central Ohio vendors who offer wedding livestreaming services, albeit with very different approaches. They weighed in so couples can learn what to expect from a virtual ceremony and how to choose the streaming method that’s right for them. 

“Do a livestream if you have a large amount of guests who can’t be there, or do a livestream if you just want to go ahead and get married and save the big reception for when all the COVID restrictions are lifted,” Staley says. He expects livestreaming to be common even after the pandemic for those who can’t make it to the ceremony due to concerns about health or travel expenses. 

Hedrick, on the other hand, is more critical of livestreaming, seeing it as merely a necessity of the times. 

“Is it safer? Absolutely. Is it as special? Probably not,” Hedrick says. “I think, ideally, everyone wants pre-pandemic [circumstances], but I’m not sure we’re returning to that world anytime soon. So livestreaming is probably the next best option.” 

Both agree that livestreaming can be an unreliable technology. Between dependence on a stable internet connection and the inability to edit a live feed, couples should manage their expectations—don’t look for drone shots, gyrostabilized cameras, color correction or audio mixing here. 

What is lost in polish is gained in accessibility. Both Josh Staley Productions and Blue Skies can run a private stream on any platform a couple prefers, and the video is left online indefinitely after the event for loved ones who may not have been able to catch it live. 

Staley, whose business is primarily focused on DJing, embraces the raw portrayal of a livestream, citing the good memories that can come from mishaps. Hedrick is less likely to suggest a stream. Her team, composed mostly of veteran TV broadcasters, can edit and deliver a “quick-flip,” fully edited wedding video in less than 24 hours, which she often recommends over a livestream. 

Staley and Hedrick’s differing philosophies on livestreams are reflected in the services they provide. 

Staley’s livestreams are fairly standardized, with high-end audio equipment and three cameras to cut between for the best possible angle. All the equipment is hooked up to a cellular modem, allowing his setup to stream smooth 720p video and audio from nearly anywhere, with a higher quality version posted online after the event. 

“You want to get married in the middle of the woods? I can go out there with that device and one camera plugged in, and we can do it,” Staley says. Livestreaming a weekday ceremony runs $499, a weekend ceremony is $999, and an entire day (ceremony and reception) costs $1,499. 

Josh Staley Productions also offers teleconference receptions, where groups of guests can be separated into “tables” that the newlyweds greet individually, avoiding a jumbled 100-person conversation. 

Blue Skies takes an individualized approach, offering custom camera setups with robotics and audio design to tailor the stream to any wedding. The company also aims for a full HD streaming experience. That said, the setup requires a wired ethernet connection or an extremely strong Wi-Fi signal, limiting the venues where it can provide the service. 

This tailored approach lends to a wider price range. Added to the regular video package, which usually costs anywhere between $1,500 and $5,000, a Saturday livestream can run from $800 up to $1,200. 

Despite their differences, both vendors emphasize customer service. Hedrick and Staley each stress the importance of flexibility at a time when life is dictated by the ebbs and flows of viral spread. 

Hedrick says the biggest benefit of contracting a pro for your wedding livestream is assurance that they can handle any issue that comes their way; you won’t have to worry about Uncle Bob frantically running around, asking for the Wi-Fi password or an iPad charger, as you share your first kiss. 

“That’s what you get with a professional,” she says. “[Any problem is] just magically fixed.”