Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past the initial login and my screen kept crashing. It was so unpleasant that I had to give up trying to watch the ceremony after only a few minutes. To be honest, that might just have been me. Others were able to watch the entire experience, including Monot’s grandmother in India.
Still, it made me wonder: Why would people choose to have a wedding in the metaverse? And will these types of ceremonies – especially the sponsored ones – survive or disappear if virtual reality doesn’t live up to the hype?
“It’s crazy and definitely not what we had in mind,” says Monot. But the couple say they want to do something different than usual. And beyond the novelty, Monot and Godball’s motives were clear: They got a free wedding out of the deal. Mohnot is a big fan of Taco Bell, so they entered a competition for the company to pay for the technical aspects of a virtual wedding — the avatars, production and more. They won. In return, he plastered his brand everywhere.
For Taco Bell, this was not only a marketing opportunity, but also a result of what its fans wanted. The chapel at the company’s Taco Bell Cantina restaurant in Las Vegas has so far married 800 couples. There were also copycat virtual weddings. “Taco Bell saw how the brand’s fans were interacting in the metaverse and decided to meet them literally where they were,” a spokesperson said. That meant dancing hot sauce packets, a Taco Bell themed dance floor, a turban for Mohnot and the famous bell brand everywhere.
If you look beyond flashy branding—a trade-off some couples are willing to make for corporate help in building and customizing a digital platform—virtual weddings allow you to do things you can’t in normal ones. For example, Monot rides into the ceremony in avatar form on an elephant for his own baraat, a pre-wedding procession for the bridegroom. It’s a fun touch that would be much more difficult to host in person, especially in San Francisco, where they live.
Making it count wasn’t so easy. They had to create a live simulcast of themselves on YouTube to meet a legal requirement that their real faces be visible. That’s because some jurisdictions — including Utah, where their officiant is based — recognize remote weddings as legally binding only if the participants can see each other on video.
Many couples will not be willing to jump through so many hoops. The pandemic has created an urgent need for virtual weddings, but traditional live ceremonies have taken off in the past year. An estimated 2.5 million weddings were held in 2022, up from 1.3 million in 2020, according to a trade group called Wedding Report.
So why marry in the metaverse? Some are attracted by the lower cost, according to Klaus Bandisch, who runs Just Maui Weddings in Hawaii. He says the company, which also organizes real-world weddings, is booked months in advance with ceremonies in the metaverse.