Metaverse Marriage: Traci and Dave Gagnon met in the cloud, so their wedding was too. Virbela, a firm that provides virtual worlds for work, school, and events, hosted the couple’s ceremony on Labor Day weekend.
The avatar of Ms. Gagnon’s close friend accompanied her down the aisle. In the background, Mr. Gagnon’s avatar saw his pal’s avatar make a toast. The ring bearer and flower girl were 7-year-old twin avatars.
Nobody knows how the immersive virtual environment known as the metaverse will impact the typical wedding. But the idea of hosting an event free of reality’s constraints is intriguing.
Because of the Covid-19 epidemic, more and more technology is being used at ceremonies. There have been Zoom marriages, and some in-person nuptials now include a webcast for absent guests. After the pandemic cancelled their wedding, a couple had a (illegal) ceremony within the famous video game Animal Crossing.
Like a video game wedding, marriages entirely in the metaverse are currently illegal. Videoconference marriages, which several states allowed during the pandemic shutdowns, have subsequently been forbidden in New York and elsewhere. Experts predict the metaverse will take these virtual celebrations to new heights and provide couples virtually limitless options.
“There are no limits,” said Sandy Hammer, founder of Allseated, a digital wedding planning platform. Create virtual copies of real-world event settings like the Plaza Hotel in New York. “In the metaverse, you may let your imagination run wild if you truly want to stand out.”
“They’ll take their guests on a space rocket,” Ms. Hammer added, imagining wedding parties digitally globetrotting. “A bride might say, ‘I want my morning session in Italy and my evening session in Paris.’”
Nathalie Cadet-James, a Miami-based wedding planner and designer, is excitedly anticipating how her position will alter. The function of Ms. Cadet-James is similar to that of a producer or director. “I could enrich a set. Flowers may bloom when you enter the space. We may add whimsy and fantasy.”
The Gagnons had an unusual wedding. On September 4, the pair married in person at the Atkinson Resort & Country Club in New Hampshire, conducted by friend and colleague David Oleary, ordained by the Universal Life Church, while organising a virtual wedding in Virbela.
They live-streamed their wedding for people who couldn’t attend. The virtual ceremony required guests to download software and create avatars.
Both Ms. and Mr. Gagnon, 52 and 60, work at eXp Realty. The brokerage is owned by eXp World Holdings, which also owns Virbela.
Their avatars met in 2015 during a work function in Las Vegas. That same year, coworkers volunteered to transform Virbela’s cloud facility into a wedding location for free.
To create the virtual ceremony, the Gagnons gave Virbela’s events team and software developers photos of themselves and their wedding décor.
The cost of staging an event in the metaverse “depends on what you want,” said Patrick Perry, Virbela’s head of event sales and partnerships.
“There will be more plug and play assets,” Mr. Perry said as the metaverse matures. Couples may choose from pre-designed wedding locations, flowers, tablescapes, outfits, musical entertainment, and more.
Virbela was created to help groups hold events and foster community in the metaverse. It has been requested to hold weddings, graduations and other events. Mr. Perry said Virbela has recently entered the wedding industry and is working with a few couples.
Ms. Hammer said Allseated has yet to deal with a couple interested in a metaverse-only wedding. The Gagnons’ hybrid event is “much more in-demand and realistic,” she added, because couples desire both in-person and virtual experiences.
The metaverse element was important to Ms. Gagnon, who engaged two videographers, one to film the live event and the other to stream it to the cloud.
Her unwell maid of honour could nonetheless practically lead her down the aisle. And Mr. Gagnon’s buddy, unable to attend due to his wife’s health, could offer his toast. It’s more engaging and emotionally rewarding than Zoom, according to Ms. Gagnon, to move through a virtual environment as an avatar.
“There’s a new degree of connection,” she remarked.