Ask LH: How Can I Stream A Wedding From Overseas?

Dear Lifehacker, My sister is getting married in another country and it would be fantastic if we could stream the wedding back to my grandmother who is unable to travel. Can you recommend any services and hardware that I could use to stream the festivities to her? Thanks, Wedding Wanderer

Picture by lemonjenny

Dear WW,

The service that immediately popped into my head when I read this question was Google Hangouts Live On Air. This streams any event live through Hangouts, as well as archiving it to YouTube. I’ve had intermittent issues with reliability on older computers, but with a newish machine with a webcam built in, you could easily film the whole thing. If you really do only want an audience of one, free video calling options like FaceTime and Skype are also possibilities.

The biggest challenge is that you need to know you’ll have a reliable data connection in the country you’re travelling to. This will be an issue with virtually any streaming service you consider. Don’t use roaming, as you’ll pay a fortune for the data. If you can’t get Wi-Fi in the venue, look into prepaid mobile broadband options for that country. That won’t be especially cheap, but the circumstances are unusual.

By the way, I’m also assuming the time zone isn’t a major issue — streaming an event that takes place at 1am Australian time might not be worth the effort. In those circumstances, filming the wedding and uploading it to YouTube for consumption the next day would be a good alternative. You can mark the video as private so it isn’t generally viewable. The one problem here is the time restriction on YouTube videos if you’re not a frequent user.

The other thing to bear in mind is that if you position a computer (or a phone or camera) in one location in the wedding venue, it won’t capture everything. Better than not being there, to be sure, but hardly dynamic. You could have a more active camera person (especially if you use a phone), but the person who is filming the event is going to have to concentrate on that rather than enjoying the day themselves. They might also end up squabbling with the official photographer (if there is one). In short: it’s definitely doable, but you’ll need to plan carefully and hope the wedding venue has good mobile reception (and that it’s not a country with ageing infrastructure).

We’d definitely welcome input from readers on this one — if anyone has actually tried this for a wedding (or other major family event), we’d love to know how you went.


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