The COVID-19 Pandemic has put an unexpected stop to all our upcoming plans. For many, this includes postponing or canceling special events such as weddings and bridal showers. We spoke to one Pittsburgh Bride who hosted a virtual shower and it was a complete success! We hope Shannon’s story will inspire other brides to host their showers virtually so you can still enjoy your special moments with those you love and cherish the most
Shannon and Tyler
August 2020, Original date was April 24th.
Where did you get the idea for a virtual shower?:
I noticed a lot of fitness studios are streaming online workouts, and I wanted to do something to keep everything on track and fun!
Was everyone still able to attend?:
About 25-30 guests were able to “tune in” to the virtual shower which is about 3/4 of who was originally invited. We noticed that as we were organizing it, the older crowd (such as older aunts/grandma who didn’t have access to Facebook) weren’t able to watch. If there wasn’t a lockdown on several counties in Western PA, the goal was to get the aunts & grandma together at one location and my fiancé was going to go over and help them watch, however because of the current restrictions we weren’t able to do that. We may plan something small with just immediate family closer to the new wedding date (not a shower, just a chance to see everyone!)
First, we had to talk logistics of the virtual shower. I went through a mess cancelling my bridal shower at a local winery, and we had to decide if it was worth it to do just a virtual shower or proceed with rescheduling the event. We decided to go with a virtual shower for a couple of reasons:
1. Many gifts had already been purchased off of my registries so I knew people had been preparing and planning for the day. I definitely didn’t want to appear like I was seeking gifts, but people do love to give their gift to the bride at the shower.
2. I wanted to maintain a sense of normalcy. The current situation is something we have never experienced in any of our lifetimes. I asked a few of my guests about how they felt about the idea of a virtual shower, and they seemed really excited and on board. They had been looking forward to it, many of my hospital coworkers had made sure they had the day off at work, I wanted things to continue.
I created the Facebook event a little less than 2 weeks out from the original shower date. I titled the event “Shannon’s VIRTUAL Bridal Shower!” where I invited every single guest who was originally invited to the shower. The nice thing about a Facebook Event is that you can invite people that aren’t on your friends list! I invited all of the guests that I could to the event. I invited a few guys whose wives weren’t on social media (this was the case for a couple of aunts) just to try and give them access to the shower.
I posted in the event page that we were going to do 2 test lives, just to make sure people were able to tune in and felt semi comfortable with how it was going to work. This was also to allow me to test wifi connectivity throughout my house (I originally was going to host in my basement, but my wifi was bad down there, which I discovered during the test live!) and I wanted to make sure the sound quality was okay. The “test lives” also alerted me to a huge issue… guests could go to “Facebook Jail” for commenting too much too quickly. When they go to Facebook Jail, they are still able to watch the live stream, but can no longer comment, which then prevented them from participating in the live stream. I have attached a photo of what it looks like when someone gets sent to “Facebook Jail”. We then saw that guests could comment, however they could not comment in quick succession or “spam” the livestream or else they went to “jail”.
I posted in the event page that anyone who had purchased gifts were welcome to drop them off at our house or we could pick them up. This felt a little weird to say, but a lot of a “bridal shower” is gifts and people still wanted me to open! I advised people that it was not necessary in any way to give gifts and they could save them to give at the wedding. If people plan far enough in advance, they could advise guests that they can send gifts directly to the brides house through the wedding registry! I know for a fact Bed Bath & Beyond, Zola and Amazon do this and I am sure many other retailers do as well. I had a surprising amount of gifts to open during the livestream!
For the baskets that my bridesmaids had already finished, I decided to post photos of the individual baskets in the Facebook Event group 2 days before the shower with a trivia question about myself and Tyler & I as the caption. If the guests answered the question correctly in the comments, they got an extra ticket for the basket raffles! This was to encourage participation and also to showcase the incredibly beautiful baskets my bridesmaids had created. We wanted them to all go to good homes as originally planned!
The livestream went live at 12pm on Saturday, March 28. I had my mom at my house, my maid of honor and one of my bridesmaids over to help me do it. I would definitely say ideally, a bride would need for sure one person to help, but two was perfect. My mom sat next to me, my maid of honor, Amanda, helped me with gifts, and my bridesmaid Mikayla had the livestream open on her computer and watched comments and made sure there were no technical difficulties. This was the breakdown on how guests got tickets to be entered into the raffle:
All guests who RSVP’d yes to the bridal shower earned 1 ticket to win a basket
Guests who commented the correct answer on the trivia questions on the photos of the individual baskets, earned an extra 1 ticket to be entered into the raffle
When guests joined the livestream, if they said hello and shared how they met me or knew me, they earned 1 extra ticket for the raffle
I asked two trivia questions during the livestream “What shape diamond is my engagement ring? And bonus ticket if you guess which Disney Princess it is inspired by!” and “Where is Tyler and I’s favorite dinner spot? A hint.. it’s a chain restaurant near Westmoreland Mall in Greensburg, PA!” Guests who commented the correct answers to those trivia questions earned 1, 2 or 3 extra tickets for the raffle depending on if they got both questions and the bonus question correct!
While I was opening gifts, we played “Shannon vs. Tyler” where there were several funny questions such as “Who hogs the bed?” or “Who is more likely to get a speeding ticket?” or “Whose car is cleaner?” where guests had the chance to answer these questions correctly (from the brides point of view!!) to earn 1 extra ticket for each one they guessed correctly. We made sure to allow enough time so everyone could comment, and to not get people thrown into Facebook Jail. For example, I started by asking a question, then opened two gifts as guests were commenting (I repeated the question a couple of times for people who may not have heard it) and then revealed the answer and asked another question. There was probably about 3 minutes between each question asked and I asked about 8!
We also did the classic “timer” game where when the timer went off, whoever’s gift I was on earned a Bath & Body Works soap that my mom provided!
Timeline Of Events
Introduction to live stream, allowed 2-3 minutes for people to join. I commented and “pinned” a comment to the top that said “Hi! When you join the livestream, please say ‘hello’ and say how we know or met each other! Please be careful with how frequently you comment in a small amount of time because you could get sent to Facebook Jail. I hope you enjoy!”
First trivia question
As guests answered and continued to join, I shared the expected timeline and small talked for a little bit
Shared the answer to the first trivia question
Asked the second trivia question
Small talked, allowed guests time to comment
Shared the answer to the second trivia question
Shared the answers to all of the basket trivia questions
Began opening gifts, alternated with the Shannon vs. Tyler questions
After gifts over, raffled off baskets
Tyler surprised me with flowers
End of shower
The shower lasted an hour nearly exactly!
What advice do you have for other brides who may want to give this a try too?
I would advise brides that the Facebook Live stream isn’t the most beautiful video quality, I’ve attached several screenshots of the video so brides have an idea of what it looks like for their guests. Guests had better luck streaming from a desktop or laptop, phones had some spotty reception. There was one major lag that we knew about (because Mikayla was watching!) and it resolved quickly. It is nice to bring small gifts up to the laptop camera you are streaming from to show gifts. Make sure you have adequate lighting. It is not ideal but it is absolutely doable!! Nearly everyone I talked to after the virtual shower said it was the “best shower they ever attended” because they were comfy, in their own home and it was short, sweet & to the point!
Most importantly, remember that it is not going to be perfect. It’s going to feel a little weird, but I’m so extremely happy I decided to go with it.
We looked into Google Hangouts, however every person had to have a gmail account to watch that way. We also looked into Zoom, but guests would have had to download the Zoom software to tune in. We also looked into Youtube Live, however guests still needed a Youtube Account to comment.
I would say if brides have a bit more time to plan, it could be a nice idea to mail games out or fun props for people to wear during the live stream, or a white balloon to blow up for people to feel the festivities at home. That’s what I would have done if I had more time!