boston.com Business your connection to The Boston Globe
World Wide Wed

World wide wed

Internet video lets family and friends to witness weddings in exotic destinations and can save both couples and kin thousands of dollars on travel and accommodations

fter a recent string of medical emergencies, Margaret D'Arcy cannot bring herself to fly off to the Carribbean and away from her doctors. But the 74-year-old from Hingham would also not think of missing her nephew's wedding in the Cayman Islands. Aunt Peg is looking forward to watching the ceremony - via the Internet.

Like a growing number of couples with family scattered around the globe, D'Arcy's nephew, John Wagner, and his bride, Sinead Quinn, hired a a videographer with the ability to wedcast their December ceremony live, using OurCaymanWedding.com.

"We're all scattered, but the love is there," D'Arcy said. "It'll be awesome" to watch, she said, "right when it's happening!"

In the YouTube era, live webcasts are spreading to some unlikely events, from a middle-school graduation in suburban Chicago to the International Barbershop Competition in Calgary, Alberta. But weddings held in exotic locales seem ready-made for the small screen, as wedcasts provide a way for couples to tie the knot at a Florida resort or on a mountaintop in Hawaii while including friends and loved ones who cannot make the trip.

Wedcasts are also a logical next step in the technological evolution of a generation who grew up with the Internet, who text their friends via mobile devices, and who may have met their beloved on a dating website. Modern weddings start with "save the date" notices blasted to invitees via Evite.com, include online gift registries, and end with the bride designing a wedding album for family members on sites like Shutterfly.com.

Larry Fair and his son, Joshua, started Live Internet Weddings in Waikiki, in 2001. The company is one of dozens of small, relatively new, start-ups that team with hotels and resorts or offer their services online to couples planning destination weddings.

Fair said his firm has produced about 130 live, online wedding broadcasts in the past year, up from about 33 the prior year. Wedcasts from Hawaii's scenic spots are particularly popular with California couples.

In August, Joshua Fair hiked 15 minutes up a mountain to a waterfall on Oahu, packing his video camera, with one California couple, their minister, and their photographer to film their ceremony.

A decade ago, Larry Fair said, not enough invitees would have had the broadband connection necessary to handle streaming video. Today, more than two-thirds of US computer users subscribe to broadband, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. "We've reached the tipping point," Fair said.

Valerie DeRoy and Bryan Sklar's wedcast was for those who were not invited to their Nov. 8, 2006, wedding. And that was just about everybody they knew.

Unknown to DeRoy, who was to leave her home in Plantation, Fla., on Sunday for a computer-security conference in Waikiki, Sklar was plotting a surprise wedding in Waikiki on the following Wednesday. He would join his fiancee and whisk her away to Secret Beach, an hour's drive away on Oahu's western coastline, for the ceremony.

Sklar completed most of his planning, on the sly, on Saturday. First, he contacted DeRoy's boss to request a couple days off for her so she could get married. Sklar bought his ticket to Hawaii and searched the Internet for a rabbi to conduct the ceremony. On Sunday, after dropping DeRoy at the airport, he went shopping with her sister for a wedding dress.

When Sklar arrived at her hotel, she accepted his proposal. The couple sent out 150 Evites to family and friends, many around Philadelphia where Sklar grew up. The invitations included directions for calling up their ceremony on LiveInternetWeddings.com and a request for RSVPs so they would know who would be watching.

"I got married on a sunset beach in Hawaii with my family watching," Sklar said. "What else could I ask for?"

His father and stepmother (her parents are deceased) interrupted a California vacation to fly to Hawaii for the day. Everyone else watched the ceremony, in real time, including Beverly Downey, a friend of DeRoy's. The former security guard for the Massachusetts Lottery watched the sunset wedding during her night shift at the lottery's Braintree headquarters. "You felt you were sharing the moment," Downey said.

Watching simultaneously was key, she said. "If I'd watched it later, it wouldn't have been the same."

DeRoy said that one advantage of Internet weddings is that they are less expensive for those who watch, because nobody has to travel.

But it's also less expensive for the couple, who can stage a small event, share it over the Internet, and "it won't cost them a bloody fortune," she said.

"At my age, I'd rather spend money on the honeymoon," said DeRoy, who is 47.

The couple's entire wedding, including Sklar's air fare, cost less than $5,000.

John Wagner and Sinead Quinn estimated that about 45 relatives and friends will make it to their Grand Cayman wedding. Another 15 will watch from afar. They decided to marry in the Cayman Islands, where they met and live, because Quinn wanted to make the plans herself, including a reception at Rum Point restaurant on the island's northern coast, rather than hand them over to family in her native Ireland.

The couple also viewed Cayman as a halfway point between their families, or, as Wagner said, "neutral territory."

The couple's wedding planner, Carol Deegan, said the popularity of wedcasts is on the rise at the resort where she works, The Hyatt Regency Beach Suites on Seven Mile Beach. She helped organize just two wedcasts last year on OurCaymanWedding.com, but has scheduled seven this year and has already booked three for 2008.

Aunt Peg is a little sad, nevertheless, that she won't be able to fly in for her nephew's ceremony in a church in George Town, the capital of Grand Cayman.

When Wagner was growing up in Whitman, he either spent weekends at her house, or she sent her son, Joseph, over to hang out with the Wagners. "They were like brothers," she said.

But some of her five children, including Wagner's cousin Joseph, are also unable to fly to the wedding, so Aunt Peg plans to watch it at her daughter's house in Braintree.

Kimberly Blanton can be reached at blanton@globe.com.

Video WATCH: Wedding videos

More from Boston.com

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES