E-There, a Covid-19 success story, has seen bookings quadruple in the last three months, with enquiries from all over the world.
The live streaming service, which allows guests to attend a physical wedding virtually, has had 57k viewers from over 124 countries in six months.
The UK wedding industry normally hosts 20 million wedding guests and 252,000 weddings every year, worth over £10 billion to Britain’s economy. The pandemic has curtailed couples’ dream weddings and put thousands of wedding venues at risk of closure.
The low-cost high-quality E-There HD streaming allows wedding parties to access a bespoke viewing page, where guests can also interact and leave private video messages for the couple.
The concept was developed in 2019 – before Coronavirus hit – by entrepreneur Mark West, the former European sales manager for global leadership coach, Tony Robbins.
Mark was initially sceptical about the American business and lifestyle guru: “I couldn’t understand why people were paying such silly money for this big American, but Tony Robbins really did change my life, dramatically. At the time I was about 24 stone. Within nine months I’d lost ten stone, trebled my income, and it just set me on this path. I worked for Tony Robbins for seven years. I am super passionate about business that’s transformative.”
Mark moved to the role of sales director of a restaurant tech start-up, Quandoo. It went from a handful of restaurant clients to 6,000 in the UK, selling for £200 million after three years. He then set up E-There, after a close friend complained he couldn’t afford a big wedding.
Mark said: “We crave connection, even more so with lockdown. I wanted to do something where I can look back and know I’ve connected millions of people. I’m actually quite cheesy – my mission for E-There is to make a million people cry happy tears. The world needs love and celebration more than ever before.”
Mark added: “The pandemic has speeded up innovation. We spent 18-months developing this affordable and high-quality tech, and automating it so it can be easily rolled out to wedding venues and couples, who just need to download an App. It’s of its time.”
Venues, including hotels and registry offices, are installing E-There as an affordable hassle-free solution to the pandemic. It’s used at iconic wedding venues such as Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland, Blackpool Registry Office, Broadoaks Country House and Gwel an Mor in Cornwall.
Dawn Titherington, Superintendent Registrar at Blackpool Council, said: “E-There has really helped us out financially and logistically during the pandemic. It has allowed our wedding business to continue in this terribly difficult year. Couples are able to engage with even more guests, bringing joy and connection. What’s more, the small friendly team are a pleasure to work with.”
Venues don’t need any technical skills. The couples’ virtual journey is handled by the E-There team.
Couples can also access E-There directly via the App.
When Francis Watson-Armstrong, owner of one of the UK’s most famous landmarks, Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland, made history by becoming the first member of his family to marry in the 1400-year-old fortress in a Covid-19 secure ceremony, he and wife Claire turned to E-There so friends and family around the globe could join them for the historic event.
Francis Watson-Armstrong said: “One of the key reasons we decided to go ahead with our wedding and not to postpone it was knowing our family and friends around the world would be able to join us through E-There’s live stream. It made what was already an incredibly special event absolutely magical for everyone.
“We have had extraordinary feedback from our guests who were as far flung as New Zealand, Australia and Spain as well as in the UK itself who were unable to join us because of Covid-restrictions. Our virtual guests sent pictures and video messages of them dressed in their wedding finest with screenshots of our ceremony. It was such a joyous occasion.
“It is a wonderful service which we will be offering to couples looking to marry at Bamburgh Castle in the future.”
Claire Watson-Armstrong said: “Mark and the team at E-There were phenomenal. They worked very closely with our amazing team at Bamburgh Castle to guide them through the process of live streaming our ceremony. They always find solutions rather than barriers. I wanted to involve my sister who lives in San Francisco and Mark found a way to bring her in to deliver a reading. It was just wonderful and made her feel included and a part of our ceremony, too.”
E-There launched in the USA just before Christmas and have venues signed up in Maryland, Maine, Kentucky and LA.
Photo shows Mark West.