The groom takes part in his wedding via video conference in this photo posted by one of the wedding guests on March 19 on the online community Galmuri. (Galmuri)
The omicron surge threatens to disrupt the wedding plans of many couples here, but some refuse to let it ruin the most important day of their lives.
Video conferencing, live streaming, and emerging metaverse technology have made attendance possible even for those actively infected with COVID-19, including married couples in quarantine.
A couple’s non-face-to-face wedding photo recently went viral, aptly captioned “Wedding in the time of viruses” by a guest who uploaded it to an online community on March 19.
The photo shows the groom, dressed in a black tuxedo with a bow tie, appearing on giant screens on the wall of a wedding hall, while the bride stands alone in front of the altar. The two exchanged their wedding vows via video conference, as the groom had tested positive for coronavirus a few days earlier, the post from online community Galmuri explains.
Bride-to-be Hong Seung-hee, whose ceremony is scheduled for May, said she would do the same if necessary.
“Wedding venues, especially hotels, charge customers a booking change penalty fee, usually worth millions of won. If by chance I get infected with COVID-19 right before the wedding, I’d rather do it via Zoom than suffer serious financial damage,” said Hong, 32, a resident of Yongin, Gyeonggi Province.
The Fair Trade Commission revised its consumer dispute resolution criteria in September 2020 and advised local wedding venue operators to allow couples affected by the virus to postpone their wedding plans at no cost. Since the guidelines were not legally binding, many still face the burden of sanctions.
Live video is becoming a trendy new aspect of weddings as the pandemic drags on. In most cases, however, this involves inviting guests who are unable or unwilling to attend due to virus risks.
A screenshot shows Kim, 38,’s wedding ceremony held on October 23, 2021, which was streamed live on YouTube. (Courtesy of Kim)
A search for “online wedding” or “wedding live stream” on Naver reveals a host of related service providers across the country.
Kim, a 38-year-old woman living in Seoul who got married in October last year, had her wedding broadcast to friends and acquaintances who were unable to attend the event due to limited attendance. squares.
“At that time, the rule was that only 99 people, including at least 50 fully vaccinated people, were allowed in a wedding. By broadcasting our wedding live on YouTube, my husband and I wanted to express our thanks to the friends who sent us warm wishes,” she said.
Kim said it was so interesting to see real-time comments from friends during the wedding.
“Some of them texted me with screenshots of the live video. Another good thing was that I could watch an entire video of my wedding ceremony as soon as it was over.
Kim Moo-seong, a 35-year-old office worker from Wirye, Seoul, got married on August 7 last year, under the same Level 4 social distancing regime. His solution to the 99-seat limit was the metaverse.
A screenshot shows Kim Moo-seong’s virtual wedding ceremony on August 7, 2021, via metaverse platform Gather Town. (Courtesy of Kim Moo-seong)
On the Gather Town metaverse platform, he recreated a virtual wedding chapel, complete with a flower-lined aisle, an altar, and even a bridal waiting room. Through an embedded link, online guests were able to watch live video of Kim’s wedding ceremony.
“More than 30 friends of mine who were unable to attend my offline wedding ceremony and those who live abroad came to celebrate my wedding day. They left live comments during the livestream and signed the online guestbook that I created,” he said. “It was an unforgettable experience for me.”
Online services now extend to various aspects of wedding preparation, including virtual tours of physical wedding venues.
A screenshot from metaverse platform urVita.app shows an identical replica of an actual wedding hall located in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang Province, where users can tour the venue. (Commercial agreement)
A wedding venue operator in Gimhae, South Gyeongsang Province, established a virtual version of his venue on a metaverse platform urVita.app, which features an identical replica of the aisle, hall banquet and bridal waiting room.
Although distancing rules are now largely relaxed as part of the government’s “living with COVID-19” programme, the massive number of daily virus cases means that many couples are considering a virtual wedding as a plan B at the moment, industry officials said.
Currently, the maximum number of guests at a wedding ceremony has been set at 299, regardless of vaccination status, excluding the bride and groom and their parents.
The country had more than 340,000 new confirmed cases in the 24 hours on Monday ending at midnight. This brings the total number of cases to 12,350,428, in this country of less than 52 million people, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said.
“Ahead of the spring wedding season, an increasing number of couples have asked me to send a list of companies offering live streaming services. Many are expressing concern about the possibility of catching the virus before the day of the wedding. They’re also worried that many of their guests won’t be able to come if they’re infected,” said a 40-year-old wedding planner surnamed Kook.
“A virtual wedding would become a must for couples if a new variant of COVID-19 emerges and the pandemic drags on,” she added.
By Choi Jae-hee ([email protected])