More couples livestream weddings

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WASHINGTON - The slogan "you must be present to win" certainly does not apply to today's weddings.

That's because modern technology can enable guests to virtually attend weddings they cannot go to in person. These guests don't have to choose whether to sit on the bride's or groom's side or even dress up, for that matter. They also don't have to travel across country, to another country or even stay a few days in a far-away locale.

These "guests" also can see the wedding right as it is happening, not days or weeks later, as was the case with videotaped weddings from days gone by.

The modern bride and groom have plenty of tools at their disposal for sharing their big day with far-flung friends and family. An actual wedding guest can set up a video call through Skype or FaceTime or film the wedding on a Webcam or video camera and broadcast the footage though online sites such as Google Hangout or YouTube.

Couples also can use professional services such as idostream.com or mystreamingwedding.com that offer the necessary equipment, including a camera, tripod and even a laptop with built-in broadband wireless in case the wedding site doesn't have an Internet connection. They also offer professional videographers.

As part of the fee involved, these services also provide technical support to those recording the event and viewer support for those watching the ceremony.

The sites enable guests to log on to a site and watch as the wedding takes place.

Other couples use Ustream and Livestream to broadcast their wedding. With this service, the footage is sent to a password-protected channel that invited guests can access.

Although live-streaming weddings is the latest trend in the digital age where people are eager to share all of their big - and even small - moments with close friends and those only close through Facebook connections, the tool shouldn't take away from the ceremony itself.

Catholic weddings have specific guidelines about wedding photography and videography, and individual parishes will no doubt indicate these policies to the bride- and groom-to-be.

The Website catholicweddinghelp.com, sponsored by the Catholic newsweekly Our Sunday Visitor, notes that a general stipulation for wedding photographers and videographers to remember is that a Catholic wedding is "first and foremost a liturgy - that is, the public prayer of the whole church, not just a private ceremony for those present. People videotaping or photographing the wedding should strive to respect the sacred nature of the liturgy."

It also notes that cameras should not be positioned where they might interfere with or distract from the liturgy. For example, the area around the altar is off-limits,`and use of the center aisle is most likely discouraged.

Most Catholic churches don't allow the use of flash or artificial lighting during the wedding ceremony and ask that furniture, flowers, plants and candles remain in place.

St. Mary's Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., even encourages photographers and videographers to be familiar with the Catholic rite of marriage as part of their preparation.

It notes in its wedding guidelines that the "use of the church for pictures is a privilege, not a right of either the couple or the photographer. All photography or video before, during or after the liturgy must respect the sacredness of the sacrament and of the church."

It also points out that if someone videotapes the ceremony they should record it in its entirety.

"Every moment of our worship - word, song and silence - is intentional and significant," the parish guideline says. "This fact is especially important to anyone recording the liturgy with video. Consider continuous video footage of the entire liturgy to honor the spirit of our service."

Which means the wedding footage should not be condensed to a highlight clip.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015