Latest Wedding Must-Have: Live Streaming Your Ceremony

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By Brian O'Connell

Soon-to-be-married couples are increasingly streaming their weddings and receptions on the Internet. It's partly for posterity, partly for ego and partly to give distant friends and family a glimpse of the proceedings if they couldn't make the happy occasion.

Ustream, a San Francisco-based live-video service reports that 20,000 U.S. couples have "streamed" their wedding ceremony in the past year -- a 250 percent jump from the year before.

"Not everyone can make it to the ceremony," says David Thompson, chief marketing officer at Ustream, "but that doesn't mean they have to miss out on the big event."
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What kind of impact is video streaming having on the $50 billion U.S. wedding industry? And more importantly, what impact, financial and otherwise, is video streaming having on newlyweds?

"For many couples, video broadcasts are becoming another 'must-have' just like flowers, cake and still photography," says Jim McGinnis, professional photographer and founder of Chapelle De L'Amour, a wedding chapel service in Las Vegas. "Our multi-camera setup is a key selling point for our venues, especially for clients who have family spread across the globe, and want to share the moment in real time."

Couples considering a video webcast can expect to pay about $99 for a standard broadcast, but that cost goes up fast if you add a videographer and a crew to handle the broadcast for you. In that case, expect to pay anywhere between $800 and $3,000, Ustream says.

At least from a financial point of view, it can still be a win-win for you and any distant guests who can't make the wedding. Think of it is as a three-step process:
  • Step one: Send out invitations to your wedding. Make sure to mention the wedding will be available for webcast in real time.
  • Step two: Distant invitees or older ones suffering from health issues may opt to view the ceremony and reception online. That saves them about $500 to $1,000 for not having to make the trip, according to figures from Ustream (and up to $1,500 or more if your wedding is at a resort.)
  • Step three: With your "Web guests" saving so much cash from avoiding the trip, they may be more generous with your wedding present. A bonus: Streaming also saves you money on wedding costs, by limiting the amount of guests.
Naturally, in most cases you'd rather have your guests on hand, face-to-face, to celebrate your wedding day.

But if your guests just can't pull it off, video streaming is a good "Plan B" for your wedding day. And it could be a benefit financially too.

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