A young south Indian couple is planning the country's first wedding reception in the metaverse on February 6 with 2,000 guests - 20 times the limit they would face in real life because of coronavirus restrictions.
“There is a lockdown on weekends and this pandemic right now but I didn’t want to spoil my big day with limited guests," the groom, Dinesh SP, told The National.
"I thought we could go for the metaverse and invite people from around the world who can virtually join our special day.”
The metaverse is an online platform that uses augmented reality, 3D holographic avatars and video to enable social interactions.
Mr Dinesh, 24, and his fiancée Janaganandhini Ramaswamy, 23, live the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu state, where gatherings are limited to 100 people because rising Covid-19 cases.
The couple came up with the idea of a metaverse reception so that all their friends and family could at least attend digitally.
Mr Dinesh, who works in blockchain technology and is a cryptocurrency enthusiast, and Ms Ramaswamy, an IT professional, are self-confessed "Potterheads" – fans of the books and films about Harry Potter.
They spent $1,400 on creating a castle-like digital space inspired by Hogwarts, the school attended by the fictional young wizard, to host the reception.
The couple also created a 3D avatar of Ms Ramaswamy’s late father, who died in April from non-Covid related issues, to attend the celebration.
“My fiancée's father passed away last year and she used to always say he won’t be present. It was very emotional, so I thought we can bring him back in the metaverse to bless us and be a part of the event,” Mr Dinesh said.
“I knew [about] metaverse even before Facebook announced it as I work in blockchain technology. We started the project in January and have been working day and night,” he said.
The couple will have a traditional Tamil ceremony in the morning with limited guests, followed by an hour-long digital reception in the evening.
Each guest for the reception has been sent an invitation in the form of a non-fungible token - exclusive digital content that they get to own. They will also be able to customise their avatar’s appearance and outfit for the event.
“Everyone is quite excited. Some older people in the family are curious. My friends and colleagues from around the world and social media friends will also be part of it,” Mr Dinesh said.
“There is going to be a music contest and we have invited VIPs and celebrities for speeches.”