Finding inventive ways to connect with loved ones has always been important for couples looking to marry. Now, couples with faraway friends and family are finding that a good Internet connection is helpful, too.

Some brides and grooms now stream their ceremonies live through Skype, an online video-conferencing software application. Others use Face Time, a mobile phone application that allows you to see the person you’re chatting with — to share everything from engagement rings to wedding gowns.

Couples no longer need to feel guilty about having a destination wedding in Hawaii attended by only a handful of guests. Nor do they have to fret about sharing their special day with elderly or infirm relatives who can’t attend a traditional ceremony and reception.

A virtual celebration

When Viana Geary got married at Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, her entire family was more than 11,000 miles away near Jakarta, Indonesia. But that didn’t stop them from watching the ceremony or chatting with her new in-laws during the reception.

The two families connected through Skype during the Feb. 25, 2011 nuptials.

Viana moved to the U.S. from Indonesia eight years ago. She and her husband, Andrew Charles, live in Washington D.C., where she is a full-time graduate student. They traditionally spend Christmas week at her husband’s family’s home in Stowe, and decided to hold their wedding ceremony and an intimate reception for two dozen guests at Trapp Family Lodge.

Difficulties in obtaining visas, along with traveling costs — airfare and other expenses topped $5,000 per guest — made it impossible for Viana’s family in Indonesia to attend.

So, about 30 relatives gathered at her mother’s home to watch the wedding via Skype, while her brother and his family watched separately from their home in a nearby city. The wedding took place at 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time; it was 6 a.m. in Indonesia.

“They had been preparing for the party since 2 a.m.,” Viana said. “They had decorated the house. It was nice to see them.”

Back in Stowe, where the ceremony was performed in English, two of Viana’s friends who speak Indonesian sat in front of a computer and translated for her family.

After the ceremony, each family hosted a party, and Viana’s family and new in-laws got to know each other in front of their monitors.

“They said that they’re happy I’m part of the family,” Viana said. “My mother said she is thankful for my husband. The biggest frustration was translating back and forth.”

While Viana wanted her family to witness her wedding in person, she still felt connected to them on her big day. “I would suggest to anyone who has relatives who want to witness their wedding in a virtual manner, that it can still be good,” Viana said.

Sharing the moments

Some brides are using Skype to stay connected to family as they plan their weddings.

Callie Mitchell lives in Anchorage, Alaska, and will get married there Aug. 3. Her sister and matron of honor, Amanda Kuhnert, lives in Stowe, along with Callie’s niece, Leah, and nephew, Parker, who will participate in the ceremony.

Callie began shopping for a dress in October, but most of her friends in Alaska are men and she longed for some female feedback.

After her future mother-in-law helped her narrow her choices to three dresses, she turned to technology to bring her sister into the fitting room.

Kuhnert, with Leah and Parker in tow, logged onto Skype in Stowe, while Callie logged on in Anchorage.

“It was cool,” Callie said. “Leah was giving me ratings — on a scale of one to 10 — when I tried on each dress. Amanda was the best. Everyone was trying to be neutral so I could make up my own mind, but she agreed with me and helped me make my final decision.”

Despite being separated by over 3,000 miles, the sisters were overcome with emotion by the end of the fitting session when Callie selected a simple, strapless gown that perfectly compliments her outdoor wedding venue.

“Amanda was teary eyed,” Callie said.

Technology will also play a role at Callie’s upcoming nuptials.

One of her bridesmaids is expecting a baby in March and doesn’t feel comfortable flying to Alaska with a five-month-old infant.

So, she’ll participate virtually, using Skype or Face Time.

And, Skype will allow Callie’s grandmother and several relatives who won’t be able to attend the wedding ceremony to still be a part of her big day.

“We’ll find a way to keep everyone connected,” Callie said.

(Amanda Kuhnert is editor of Stowe Weddings.)

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