A FaceTime Wedding

Our daughter, Courtney and Andy were engaged last summer. The wedding was set for late July 2010. We have a large family and Courtney wanted to include her brother and sisters, nieces and nephews in the wedding party.

Our daughter, Monique, is the mother of three young sons. She was to be a bridesmaid and her sons were to be the ring bearers. During the year, Monique announced that we would have a new grandchild this fall. The pregnancy has been a difficult one and she was hospitalized in June until our new grandson is born. Not only would Monique not be able to participate in the wedding, she would also miss seeing her sister and her sons in it.

Being the techie that I am, I bought the new iPhone 4 on the day it was introduced. My sister, Sandy, also bought an iPhone 4. We could use FaceTime to stream the wedding to Monique!

Unfortunately, while the idea was a good one, there were lots of problems to overcome.

A few days after getting my iPhone 4, I attempted to use FaceTime while at the hospital to place a call to Sandy at her home in Las Vegas NM. Although we could talk by voice, we could not make a FaceTime connection. The hospital network connection was too slow--or perhaps they block streaming, but using the hospital patient network was not an option.

I also knew that neither the church nor the reception hall had an open WI-FI network. While I might have been able to find a way to set up a network at our church, I knew there was no way I would be able to set up a network at the reception site, located at the Washington Navy Yard.

Mi-Fi cards allow you to set up your own Wi-Fi network wherever you go, as long as there is a mobile phone 3G network available. There was one big catch--a contract! If we would sign a one to two year contract, we could get or buy one of these devices for $0 to $200.00. Contracts cost $30 to $60 per month for up to 5 GB of data. Canceling the contract would also be very costly. That was a lot of money to expend to stream the wedding to Monique!

Sandy called. She saw a press release for a new Mi-Fi service from Virgin Mobile. We could buy a VirginMobile Mi-Fi device at any Best Buy for $149.00. Then we could buy data from Virgin Mobile without a contract! Of course, it would require TWO Mi-Fi devices, one for the hospital, and one for the wedding sites.

Sandy had purchased a Wi-Fi iPad. She often wished she had a way to connect it to the Internet using her own Wi-Fi. She decided to by the first Mi-Fi device.

Since I have lots of techie friends, I was certain that I could find a Mi-Fi device to borrow--or perhaps a mobile phone that we could use to set up a Wi-Fi network. While several friends have Mi-Fis, they were paid for by their employers, so using one for a the wedding was not an option.

Although several friends had phones that could be used to set up a Wi-Fi network, no one had actually done it! No one knew exactly what they needed to do! FAIL, FAIL, FAIL!

After a bit more thought, I decided that this was too important an event for Monique to miss. I bought the second MiFi and we quickly tested it out.

FaceTime over the Mi-Fi devices was not perfect, but it was more than acceptable. Now, Monique could “be” at the wedding and at the reception! She would see everyone get ready, see the preparations at the church, see, the ceremony and the reception. Not only would she see it, she could also visit with family and friends throughout the day and evening.

I delivered my iPhone and the MiFi to the hospital. I did a bit of testing and configuring to make sure the iPhone would default to the MiFi instead of the hospital wireless. Now we were ready for the big day.

We made many FaceTime calls throughout the day. Monique was able to visit with friends and family, add her approval to Courtney’s hairstyle, be a part of the group in the wedding room at church, make a final check of her boys in their suits, watch her sons walk down the aisle, see Courtney and Andy exchange their vows, listen to Fr. DeCelle’s homily, suggest yet another picture to be taken after the ceremony. She visited with friends at the reception, saw the table decorations she had helped to make, watched her sons be introduced, listened to her dad’s toast, and watch her sons dance and dance.

While Monique was not able to be physically present, she was able to be a part of our wonderful day. FaceTime and the iPhone 4 allowed it to happen, along with family and friends who took a few minutes to be a part of the stream.

Courtney and Andy provided the fitting end to the day. When they left the reception, they headed to the hospital so that Monique could see them in their wedding attire.


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