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3 Terms Every Officiant Should Know in the Virtual Wedding Era

Published Saturday, Jan. 29th, 2022

Words to know for the virtual wedding era



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If you find yourself wondering what the difference is between a hybrid wedding and a virtual one, or why the term ‘virtual wedding’ suddenly seems to mean many different things depending on who’s using it… you’re not alone! 


The past couple years have brought many changes to the wedding industry – from how we gather, to the average size and cost of wedding ceremonies, to the very words we use to describe them.


Although weddings that rely on online technology will probably become less popular in a post-pandemic world, they have undeniable benefits that will continue to attract many couples. Virtual and hybrid weddings are better for the environment, and they can help cut down on the cost of venues, travel, and hotel stays, giving them lasting appeal. 


And as a new batch of metaverse weddings have shown us, new innovations in online ceremonies are still on the way!


With this in mind, here are 3 terms every wedding officiant should know in the Virtual Wedding Era. 




  • Virtual Wedding 

Common usage: A wedding ceremony conducted over an online video-conferencing platform, such as Zoom, Skype, Google Meet/ Hangouts, Teams, etc, where all participants can see and hear each other clearly. In these ceremonies, the wedding officiant and the parties to the marriage are in different locations


Sometimes called an ‘online wedding’ or ‘remote wedding.’


Trending usage: Recently, the term ‘virtual wedding’ is also being used to describe fully-immersive ceremonies held in the metaverse. Weddings held in the metaverse use virtual avatars to represent the parties being married. At this time, virtual weddings that use virtual/digital avatars are not legally binding





  • Zoom Wedding

Common usage: A wedding ceremony conducted over the Zoom online video-conferencing platform. In these ceremonies, the wedding officiant and the parties to the marriage are in different locations


Trending usage: The term ‘zoom wedding’ is often used colloquially to describe any virtual wedding ceremony, regardless of which platform it’s held on. Weddings conducted over Skype, Google Meet/ Hangouts, FaceTime, etc., are all frequently just called ‘Zoom weddings.’ 





  • Hybrid Wedding

Common usage: A wedding ceremony in which some people participate face-to-face (in-person) and some participate virtually, using video-conferencing or immersive metaverse technology. In these ceremonies, the wedding officiant and the parties to the marriage might be in the same physical location, or different locations. Likewise, guests, wedding attendants, and co-officiants might join in face-to-face or over video-conference. 


One type of hybrid ceremony is frequently called a ‘livestream wedding.’


Trending usage: Hybrid weddings are frequently called ‘livestream weddings.’ These ceremonies are held either face-to-face or virtually, and live-streamed to virtual guests using a DIY streaming platform like FaceBook Live, Instagram Live, or YouTube Live, or a paid professional option such as Lovecast, Lovestream, or Wedfuly.





To keep things legal, it’s important to know that virtual marriage ceremonies, where the officiant and the couple are in separate physical locations, are only legal in some states. Hybrid weddings, where the officiant and couple are in the same physical location but guests join in virtually, are legal in any state.  



Other terms you might hear more of in the coming years include ‘virtual reality’ and ‘augmented reality’ weddings. You can read more about these unique ceremonies here. 




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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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