My tech savvy wedding

100% human

A music buffet

Every wedding has to have music. That’s just a thing. An obvious thing, no less. You need to have something to dance to.

We have a band for our wedding, but the band can’t play all the time, so we obviously need some filler music, and for that, we’re going to take advantage of technology we’re already using in our life.

That technology is all you can eat music services.

For this journalist, it’s Google’s Play Music system, but if you currently subscribe to Spotify, use that, and if you currently use Rdio, use that. You can use Pandora too, if you like, but because it’s a radio service, you’ll never quite know what you’re about to hear, and generally people like to plan weddings.

We used Google Play Music and made several playlists for each of the breaks we knew the band would be taking, numbering them as one or two or three or four, and downloading the music so the phone wouldn’t need to connect to the web and could just play the music when it needed to, which was next.

As for playing the music through a loud speaker, if you have a band or a PA system, plug the phone in using a line-in jack using the phone’s headset port, which is the standard 3.5mm cable. Talk to your band or whoever has the personal announcement system and find out what you need.

Alternatively, if there is no band or PA system and you’ll be shouting most things, look at grabbing a decent dock or Bluetooth speaker. Obviously, these aren’t created equal so don’t spend thirty bucks and hope it’ll do.

Rather, buy yourself a nice present of a speaker that can do a good job, providing enough sound for the venue so people can actually hear the music and get dancing. Not only will you have a speaker that people can actually hear, but you’ll have one you can take home and use, too.

Making kids important in the digital age

Not everyone has kids at their wedding, and out of the few I’ve been to, it tends to go 50/50.

That said, we knew kids would be coming to ours, as there just would be so many family members with kids that it would be unavoidable.

But with little ones coming, we had to think of a way to keep them entertained, and thus we came up with a two-pronged solution: digital cameras and a tablet.

The first solution was a pro-active one, and we wanted the children to feel like they were just as important as the adults. We know that pretty much every adult coming to the wedding would have a camera with them, whether a real physical camera or one inside of a smartphone, but the kids wouldn’t, so we decided why not give the kids one.

Background: I’m a photographer, or was, anyway, and when I was younger, I was given a camera to take pictures of the world. This helped shape my path, and if you see me places, you know I have a camera with me, as it’s always something that keeps me comfortable.

But finding a camera for kids actually proved more difficult than we expected. The obvious solution is disposable film cameras, but these far more troublesome these days, because while you can find them for cheap, getting that film developed is more costly than you’d expect, coming in at around $20 per roll these days. Ouch.

So we tackled the digital angle: would it be so costly to find digital cameras for the ten kids coming, and on a journo’s salary (the myth journalists make a lot of money is just a myth)?

What we came up with was a lot of research, with websites like AliBaba and DealExtreme playing host to the concept, as well as some local retailers.

In the end, we acquired budget Polaroid digital cameras an some cheap SanDisk memory cards. All up, the cost was around $20 per camera and $5 per card, which isn’t bad, and should provide the kids with a camera that can make themselves feel like adults, while also being something they can take home and maybe shape their paths, too.

The other issue would be an on-going attention issue, and that’s what happens when a child loses interest in cameras and weddings altogether?

For that, we turn to tablets, and now that slate computers are so cheap that practically anyone and everyone can afford them, you merely grab one, a case that also acts as a stand, and load up a few movies for the children as you normally would.

Most wedding venues will likely have a place where the bride can be dressed and made up for the occasion, and well after the bride and groom have said their vows and become husband and wife, this room is likely being unused, so leave the tablet up there ready to go just in case the little ones need a time out, with a few movies ready to go.

Streaming the day

The last and most important technology addition we had for the wedding started off as a joke.

“We could even stream the wedding to people overseas who can’t come,” I said half jokingly, before realising a split second later that HEY! WE COULD ACTUALLY DO THAT.

We’ve have some experience at live streaming of events, in fact.

During the Consumer Electronics Show of 2013, this journalist built a small system that made it possible for us to stream photos and updates in a constant rolling feed of the show, effectively turning it into a virtual tour of CES.

That experiment was made with an Android camera and some website know-how, as well as a few batteries and a mobile connection, but it worked, and we received some positive feedback on the whole concept. We haven’t revived it in some time, but one day, we’ll bring it back to life.

But my wedding would need something different.

After all, I’ll be standing up there, reciting my vows, doing the whole “husband-to-be” shtick, so I can’t operate the system, which back in 2013 was pretty much manual, requiring photos and text to work.

No, a streaming wedding would have to be done passively, and so for that, we turned to something used by plenty of other people: UStream.

UStream is a solution whereby you can broadcast events using one of the UStream apps, either on a web browser or from a mobile device. Apps for UStream are available on either Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android, and so you have a fairly decent choice, but basically, to stream, you just create an account at UStream, grab a phone or tablet, set it up, and stream.

From there, anyone can watch the stream on the page setup at UStream’s website and channel, or you can embed the stream on your own page, which in this case, is at the website we mentioned earlier that was created for this purpose.

For our wedding, we’ve used the Samsung Galaxy Zoom S4, an Android-based smartphone that also has the guts of a camera. Interestingly, while this cameras sports a 10x optical zoom length, we can’t actually use any of that, and we don’t want to. We want the widest length to show as much of the scene as possible.

You can use any smartphone you want, just as long as you can set it up somewhere stable with clear view of whatever you’re planning to stream. With a position ready, download the “UStream” app onto the device, create or login to a UStream account, and start streaming.

The video feed can be shared to friends and family by way of a UStream link, or if you feel like using some of the things you’ve read in this article, you can embed the stream in your webpage, which is what we’ve done.

What the app will do from here is send the stream straight to UStream on around a ten second delay, sharing the feed with viewers, while also recording and storing it for playback at a later time. When the video is over, you can cut the feed from the phone and save the video, leaving it to play on your website, which is what we’re planning on doing.

Is the video feed perfect or insanely high resolution?

No, but it can be done pretty much on the cheap, and if you have friends and family that just unfortunately cannot make it, this will at least ease the burden in a way few would think to do.