Would you attend a Wedding in Virtual Reality?

It’s crazy to think that one of the most anticipated events of the year was a wedding. Just a few weeks ago, over 29 million US citizens tuned in to watch the Royal Wedding. And while many major TV networks capitalized on the broadcast of this event, they missed one huge opportunity in virtual reality.

Broadcasting Live in VR

This year marked a big year for VR broadcasts. NextVR brought us the entire NBA season in virtual reality (including the Finals). Fox Sports is bringing us 64 World Cup matches in VR.

So, why didn’t they broadcast the Royal Wedding in virtual reality?

While Drop would’ve allowed people to follow along with the Royal Wedding as if they were in a newsroom setting. I’m thinking even above and beyond this.

The way I witnessed some of my friends and family geek out over this event weeks in advance, I know for a fact some of them would’ve coughed up money for a premium VR experience (especially if it meant sitting next to David Beckham). They might’ve even bought a headset just for this one occasion.

Last year, this wouldn’t have been a compelling argument to make. But, as I’ve stated before:

After spending a considerable amount of time in the VR space back in 2014-2016 and not seeing much happen since then, Facebook’s launch of their second VR headset, the Oculus Go, is something to finally get me amped about VR again.

Recently I attended a live VR concert with Ben Slater, Co-Founder of RightMinder, who was on the other side of the globe. We were both absolutely blown away by the experience:

Attending this concert in my virtual form, made me think about the relationship between technology, communication, and our connectedness to one another. And really how all new communication channels undergo the Cyber Contact Progression.

Attending this concert in my virtual form, made me think about the relationship between technology, communication, and our connectedness to one another. And really how all new communication channels undergo the Cyber Contact Progression.

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Cyber Contact Progression

The way we communicate with each other in cyberspace must constantly evolve to satisfy our need to feel connected and welcomed by others. Change is an inevitable part of communication channels (Email, SMS, Facebook, etc…) and can be defined by three progressive stages: Extreme Ambiguity, Concentrated Efficiency, and Momentary Liberation.

Extreme Ambiguity (Stage 1) is the first defining characteristic of any new communication channel. No one knows the best practices yet and there aren’t enough people using it to make it a convenient means of communication. Over time, though, user adoption increases, new capabilities are presented, and they then enter the stage of…

Concentrated Efficiency (Stage 2). At this point, users understand the best practices for the channel. Communication is very efficient between current users and a mass of net-new users arrive. However, if you’ve ever made juice from concentrate before, then you know that when you add a little too much concentration to the mix, the drink goes sour. This is when the channel becomes overcrowded with people, oversaturated with corporate advertisements (to compensate for the rising costs associated with user growth) and ineffective for communication. Leaving a gap for…

Momentary Liberation (Stage 3). This is when a close derivative of the previous channel (either an updated version or new channel altogether) is introduced that solves this inefficiency problem. It’s a moment of liberation because the noise seems to disappear. But, beware, because this feeling of liberation is only momentary. There’s surely a new channel itching to take its place.

Let’s Look at a Few Examples

Email was an extremely ambiguous service to start. No one really knew when they should send an email or a fax. Some early email systems even required the author and the recipient to both be online at the same time. Eventually, the kinks unfolded and it became one of the most efficient ways of communicating professionally and personally. Unfortunately, email was so effortless that it became oversaturated with spam and advertisements to the point where the only liberation was declaring email bankruptcy (leaving that email altogether).

Another example is Facebook. I remember a time when my friends and I didn’t know whether to use it as a tool to stalk our crushes or share funny videos on our walls. Facebook then launched the Newsfeed, the purpose of Facebook became clear, and it emerges as the most efficient channel for staying up to date on your friends’ lives. Currently, though, we are in need of liberation because Facebook has become an advertising haven to the point where you barely see friends’ content. The momentary liberation could come in the form of an update to their algorithms or a new platform altogether (Oculus Go VR headset?).

Take any digital communication channel that allows us to chat with one another and you’ll find that it goes through the Cyber Contact Progression.
Currently, virtual reality is in this Extreme Ambiguity stage. No one really understands the purpose and there’s a lot of experimenting going on. But, Oculus Go is on the verge of breaking into the Concentrated Efficiency stage.

Going back to the concert I attended with Ben Slater. We both recognized how easy it was for us to communicate with the other virtual concert attendees – truly serving its purpose as a means of efficient communication.

This made me ponder how other experiences in Oculus Go will help transition this tool from the Extreme Ambiguity stage to the Concentrated Efficiency stage. And in the spirit of the Royal Wedding, I decided to look into a VR wedding.

A Better Wedding in VR

When thinking about experiences that’ll be impressive in virtual reality, weddings are interesting partly because there’s a massive monetary incentive to be the first mover in that industry. Already, the wedding industry is worth $72 billion annually in the US alone – supporting an entire economy of caterers, ceremony and reception venues, florists, photographers, hair stylists, limo drivers, bands, DJs, and even wedding painters.

Every couple that takes this huge step in their life must balance their dreams with their budget… the budget usually taking a big hit. But, virtual reality weddings have a chance at cutting this cost down to a fraction (if you want to go virtual).

In VR, couples can book St. Peter’s Basilica for the ceremony and transport all their guests to beaches in the South of France for the reception, without having to fly people all over the world. InsiteVR is already well on their way to providing users with the architecture necessary to build these realms.

Additionally, florists could take their time creating one magnificent centerpiece that puts the Royal Gardens to shame. Then, uploading their arrangements digitally and duplicating it for every table.

When it comes time for the night’s entertainment, onto the stage come Maroon 5, Elton John, U2, and any other superstar artists (they’ve chosen) to give live performances in VR.

Not to mention, attending one of these weddings would be practically frictionless. Guests wouldn’t have to worry about finding / buying something nice to wear, clearing their schedule, or traveling to the location. Instead, a few moments before the ceremony starts, they place on their Oculus Go, choose an outfit for their avatar, and take their seat. Think about how great this would be for friends and relatives that are either immobile or live far away.
And let’s not forget about the food.

Catering a VR wedding – 300 people in 300 different places – at first sounds like a logistical nightmare. But, the infrastructure already exists with food delivery platforms like Postmates, GrubHub, and UberEATS. Every guest could order a dish from a local restaurant that they enjoy – instead of just being given an option between steak, chicken, or vegetarian. And it may even come in at a lower cost to the bride and groom, who often spend between $30-100 per plate.

All of this and more is easily accessible in virtual reality. The social experience wouldn’t quite be the same, but you’d still be able to interact and engage in conversation with the people you want to see. Also, you wouldn’t have to worry about your uncle getting way too drunk and causing a scene.

When can we expect this?

Realistically, we’re 8 years away from seeing a VR wedding that could rival the experience of a traditional wedding. But, the people that will bring you impressive VR weddings will start creating them this year.

Who’s going to be the first florist to work with graphic designers to bring their creations into the virtual realm? Which DJs and bands will foresee this opportunity, branding and enhancing the VR wedding entertainment? Which food delivery service will create a portal for wedding guests to easily order and coordinate their reception food?

Of course, there are many wedding traditions that will be upheld. But, I see VR weddings as an opportunity to reinvent or add to the traditions we’ve come to expect. an experience unique to that communication channel.
This may make you uncomfortable to think with. Although, when has a comfort zone ever allowed anyone to grow?

Getting out of your comfort zone

Comfort is nice. And we should all find comfortable places to relax. However, comfort is stagnancy. It’s our body’s signal that no growth is taking place. 
Think about it: beds are the most comfortable in the morning when the day is calling. But, if we stay in comfort, we cannot get out and seize the day.
This is a parable for all of life’s situations.

The person who only exercises comfortably may never achieve their physical goals. The salesman who only fills their day with comfortable leads will never land the big fish that gets them the promotion.

All day we have opportunities to do things at a comfortable, sustainable pace – to minimize stress on ourselves. But it is in the uncomfortable situations which lead to leaps in our growth.