Traci and Dave Gagnon met on the cloud, so it only made sense that their wedding took place there. Over the Labor Day weekend, the couple – or rather, their digital avatars – held a ceremony made by. was staged Virbela, a company that creates virtual environments for work, study and events.

Ms. Gagnon’s avatar was led down the aisle by her close friend’s avatar. Mr. Gagnon’s avatar watched as his mate’s avatar strolled onto the stage and made a toast. And 7 year old twin avatars (the ring bearer and the flower girl) danced at the reception.

Like the immersive virtual world known as the Metaverse, which few of us understandIt is not yet in sight that she will change the traditional wedding. But the ways of having an event free from the limits of reality are interesting enough to ponder.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, technology is already being integrated into ceremonies more than ever. Zoom weddings have taken place and some in-person ceremonies now have a livestream component for guests who cannot be there. Last year, a couple whose wedding was canceled due to the pandemic staged a (illegitimate) Animal Crossing ceremony, a popular video game.

However, as with a video game ceremony, it is important to note that all weddings are held exclusively in the metaverse are currently not legal. (Even virtual videoconferencing weddings, which many states allowed during the height of the pandemic shutdowns, have been held since then banned in New York State and elsewhere.) Still, the Metaverse will take these virtual celebrations much, much further, experts say, offering couples almost limitless possibilities.

“There are no restrictions,” says Sandy Hammer, founder of All-seatedcreating digital planning tools for weddings. The company is investing in the Metaverse by creating virtual versions of real-world event spaces like the Plaza Hotel in New York. “If you really want to do something different, you can just as easily let your creativity run free in the Metaverse.”

Think of guest lists that are in the thousands. Gift register with NFTs, or non-fungible tokens. Maybe even destination weddings in space.

“They will take their friends with them on a space rocket,” said Ms. Hammer, adding that she can imagine wedding celebrations virtually. “A bride can put her guests in the metaverse: ‘I want my morning session to be in Italy, my evening session in Paris.'”

Nathalie Cadet-James, a Miami-based wedding planner and designer, approaches the metaverse with “an excited beginner mind” and seeks to anticipate how her role will change. “I think my role could be more of a producer or a film director,” said Ms. Cadet-James. “I could make a set that I improved upon. Flowers could come out of the ground when you enter the room. I would add whimsy and imagination – because we could. “

This, of course, requires the skills of a software engineer, a role not currently found on any typical wedding budget.

The Gagnons had a kind of hybrid wedding. The couple were married in person on September 4 at the Atkinson Resort & Country Club in New Hampshire, where they live, in a ceremony presided over by David Oleary, a friend and colleague of theirs who was ordained by Universal Life Church while at the same time a virtual ceremony was being held in Virbela.

They streamed their wedding live for those who couldn’t be there in person. Guests at the virtual ceremony attended via a computer, which required downloading software and then creating an avatar.

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Both Ms. Gagnon, 52, and Mr. Gagnon, 60, work as agents eXp Realty. The brokerage firm has embraced virtual work and the Metaverse and is part of eXp World Holdings, which also includes Virbela.

Before the couple met in person, their avatars met at a corporate event in Las Vegas in 2015. And when they announced their engagement in 2019, so were their coworkers offered to convert Virbela’s cloud campus into a wedding venue, for free. (Ms. Gagnon estimated it would have cost approximately $ 30,000 if they had paid for it; Virbela representatives declined to post an award for the event.)

The gagnons sent pictures of themselves and their wedding decorations to the event team and Virbela’s software engineers, who incorporated personalized details such as bird of paradise flowers and pictures of their personal venue into the virtual ceremony.

“They were able to take my wedding dress and adjust it and take a little flower wreath and put it on my hair,” said Ms. Gagnon.

Patrick Perry, Virbela’s director of event sales and partnerships, said the cost of running an event at the Metaverse “depends on what you want,” added, “When an engineer is building an MGM ballroom or something similar, then the costs go up, “from a few thousand dollars to well over $ 10,000.

But, said Mr Perry, as the Metaverse grows, “there will be more plug-and-play assets.” Wedding couples can choose from pre-designed venues, flowers, table landscapes, dresses, musical entertainment, and other elements.

Virbela was developed as an immersive platform for organizations to host events and build a sense of community in the metaverse. But users have asked the company to host graduation ceremonies, bar mitzvas, weddings, and other celebrations. Lately, Mr. Perry said, Virbela has started exploring the wedding market and is in the planning stage with a few couples.

Ms. Hammer said Allseated has not yet worked with a couple interested in a wedding that only takes place at the Metaversum. Aside from the legality of such a ceremony, a hybrid event like that of the Gagnons is “much more sought-after and realistic,” she said, “because couples want both personal and virtual experiences.”

For Ms. Gagnon, who hired two videographers, one to record the in-person event and another to simultaneously broadcast the ceremony to the cloud, the whole point of the Metaverse element was the connection it provided.

Her sick maid of honor could still lead her to the altar, albeit virtually. And Mr Gagnon’s friend, who was unable to attend because his wife already had health problems, was able to make his toast. The experience of moving through a virtual world as an avatar – a kind of idealized version of yourself – creates a more immersive, emotionally satisfying experience than Zoom, Ms. Gagnon said.

“There’s another level of connection,” she said with the metaverse.

There are other advantages to being a metaverse bride. “I always wear size 4, even in January,” says Ms. Gagnon with a laugh. “And I never have a bad hair day.”

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