I watched enough Back to the Future as a kid to know that we’ve barely begun to scrape the surface of what the twenty-first century supposedly has to offer. (I’m disappointed in what we’re calling a hoverboard right now, is all I’m saying.) But if there’s one thing that doesn’t disappoint, it’s the advent of virtual reality. But for those of us who are not exactly nerds, understanding what the hell VR actually is, well, it’s still kind of confusing. (Who here has had a friend prattle on about VR, and nodded very sagely, like you had any clue what they were talking about.)
But, lucky for me, while I’m not a nerd, I’m married to one. I think that makes me nerd-adjacent… or at least virtual reality–adjacent. So let’s break it down. If you haven’t tried it before, the general idea is this: you strap a set of goggles to your face, attach your phone (or other digital device), and get transported into a 3-D world simulation where you’re the main character. It’s uncanny and weird and a little like being inside your very own video game. (And pro-tip: You can now get really cheap goggles in places like… the checkout aisle at Target. And Meg has a cardboard version the New York Times sent her. The future is officially here.)
So it was only a matter of time before someone took this technology and made a wedding out of it. Because you know what else virtual reality can do? Eliminate the limitations of time and space. Which means you can have all your best people in the same virtual room, no plane tickets needed. So when APW reader Eve Weston reached out to us to let us know she’d attended a VR wedding earlier this year, we asked if she’d be willing to share her best tips for attending a wedding in Tomorrowland. Here’s what she had to say:
On May 25, 2017, the first virtual reality wedding took place. With no cost, no travel, and anyone able to attend—and feel truly present—from anywhere in the world it’s certainly something to consider. And if it catches on, here’s what you’re going to need to know:
Forget cocktail attire. wear a headset: To step into virtual reality, you put on what feels like a slightly bulkier SCUBA mask, inside of which is a screen that tricks your eyes—and then your brain—into believing that you’re somewhere else entirely. So feel free to dress up, dress down, or not dress at all.
Bring Your Best Emoji Game: Don’t channel your emotions into a hanky; send them into the air. In AltSpace, the VR platform where the first VR wedding took place, you can send emojis into the air to express what you’re feeling at any given moment. Hearts for love, smiley faces for happiness, clapping hands for applause. Your face may not be visible, but you’re hardly a blank slate.
Forget the rice. grab a magic wand: Glitter gets everywhere, bubbles are overdone, and rice is out of date. Thankfully, VR gives you some fun new options to show just how excited you are that your friends tied the knot (and the ceremony is finally over!)—glow sticks and magic wands. Each leaves a trail—of color or ethereal sparkle—in the air for a few seconds after you wave it. All that glitters isn’t gold, indeed, nor does it always have to stick to everything.
The ring bearer is out of a job: Believe it or not, your avatar in virtual reality will likely have hands, assuming your VR hardware comes with controllers. And your hands will be able to grab things like the above-mentioned glow sticks and magic wands. Unfortunately, unless you have a fancy motion capture set-up, your fingers won’t separate, making it challenging to put a virtual ring on a virtual finger. (But you know, we’re working on it.)
At the reception, dance like no one’s watching… because no one is: Believe it or not, you can dance in virtual reality, but with the usual gear—headsets and hand controllers— all anyone at the virtual reception will see is a bobbing head and some “rollin’ with the homies” style hand grooves. So let your freak out on your living room floor, pelvic thrust to your heart’s desire, and give the white-man’s overbite its day in the sun.
Eat before you arrive: While it would not be impossible for your hosts to pass virtual hors d’oeuvres, it would be impossible for them to satisfy your hunger. The first VR wedding was an hour long, and that didn’t include the reception. Best to nosh before putting your headset on because even a simple protein bar is hard to find when it’s in a separate reality.
Whatever you do, don’t wear the same avatar as the bride: “Don’t wear white” is so last century. Now that the future is here, avoid wearing the bride’s body. Yup, that was not a typo. One’s avatar is one’s virtual body, and, even in this brave new world, it’s fair to assert that showing up in the same body as the bride isn’t super cool. And besides being rude, it’s just confusing. At the first VR wedding, the bride was mingling with guests before the ceremony, so you could easily find yourself cornered by that close-talking aunt. And yes, in VR, close talking is still a thing. Though, AltSpace has a handy bubble feature that helps you keep a minimal amount of breathing room. Wouldn’t that be nice IRL!