The first metaverse wedding in the UAE will take place on Thursday, with hats and fascinators ditched in favour of Oculus headsets. Florian Ughetto and Liz Nunez, founders of the wedding planning company Easy Wedding, will say “I do” in front of 20 guests at their private plot in an alternate reality.
But what exactly is a metaverse wedding?
The metaverse is a virtual reality platform that uses augmented reality, 3D holographic avatars and videos for social interactions. In this virtual landscape, there's a whole new realm of opportunities for social connection, including fashion shows, interior design firms, cinemas, restaurants — and weddings.
The technology allows happy couples to choose a venue, a customised cake and a bespoke wedding dress or tuxedo, although, in reality, they could be sitting in bed in their pyjamas.
As at any wedding, guests are invited to attend the ceremony, with avatars decked out in finery, bearing witness as vows are exchanged.
In February, more than 3,000 guests turned up for India’s first wedding reception in the metaverse, hosted by newlyweds who wanted to avoid coronavirus restrictions on their big day.
Dinesh SP, 24, and his fiancee Janaganandhini Ramaswamy, 23, were married in a traditional ceremony in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. But with guests limited to 100 at the time, they decided to hold their reception in the virtual world.
They weren’t the first to host a wedding ceremony in the metaverse, either. In September 2021, Americans Traci and Dave Gagnon were married in a digital ceremony staged by Virbela, a company that builds virtual environments.
The ceremony was held simultaneously with an official ceremony in New Hampshire and was therefore legally recognised.
UAE residents Ughetto and Nunez are also already legally married, but because of their different nationalities, they had to fly to Georgia for the ceremony in 2019.
Currently, the question of how the technology may be used for ceremonies such as weddings is uncharted territory, but in the real world, metaverse weddings are not yet legally binding, something the couple are working to change in the UAE.
Other hitches include connectivity issues and tech expertise, which is why all the guests who will attend the Easy Wedding founders’ wedding have received training on how to access Decentraland, where Thursday's ceremony will take place.
Technology concerns aside, and with flowers, locations and decor, it seems the possibilities for metaverse weddings are endless.
Even guests are available at the click of a mouse, as at the Indian metaverse wedding reception in February about 3,000 people attending, including an avatar of the bride’s father, who died last April.