How to bring connectivity to a remote area for a wedding?
February 9, 2014 6:59 PM   Subscribe

So we're looking at wedding venues in fairly remote spots (in the US) where there's no cell phone or Internet connectivity for at least 5 miles in any direction. We'd like to be accommodating of our guests, so what can we do to bring connectivity to these venues?

So one of the venues has no connectivity whatsoever, but has an office with a single computer and a phone that we can give to people as an emergency number. The other venue also has nothing, but the owners are looking into bringing in WiFi. I've contacted Verizon and they don't seem to have any plans to bring service to these areas, which is a bummer. We're looking at 100-150 guests, so providing at least a decent connection for that is a challenge in itself.

Any ideas?
posted by gchucky to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I just spent an entire wedding weekend in a place with no connectivity, along with about 50 other guests. We all had been told this in advance, and had been given a phone number for the venue, in case of emergency. I loved it. Really, really loved it. And I'm usually obsessed with checking email every four seconds. I think as long as you make it clear to your guests in advance, everybody can just deal with it.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:34 PM on February 9, 2014 [11 favorites]

Have the wedding in a less-remote place with suitable connectivity?

You don't really have many options if there's no cell phone service and no wired (DSL/Cable) connections. There are satellite providers, but they're likely to be expensive and not very practical for a temporary setup.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 7:34 PM on February 9, 2014

Think of 100-150 guests' phones not beeping in the middle of your ceremony. I would say you found a pretty nice place to have a wedding as is.
posted by efalk at 7:42 PM on February 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

You might question if people are really unable to be without their phones for part of one day.

The only other option you might have is satellite but I doubt that would be cost effective, if possible at all.
posted by Cosine at 8:07 PM on February 9, 2014

Give people a heads up that there won't be connectivity, any thinking person will realise that's a possibility if your location really is that remote but you cannot assume that people fall into that category. Then go ahead and enjoy your day. People can and will deal with this 'drawback' of the venue any which way they see fit. This is not something you need to fix.
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:10 PM on February 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

The satellite options are acceptable solutions when you can't get anything better but are not designed for one-off setups. If anything, you need to sell the venues on the business value of adding it long term.

But really, I find the idea of a wedding where people aren't staring at glowing devices all the time rather charming in this day and age and as long as none of your guests have medical or business reasons that they must be available for the 12 hours or whatever that they'll be on site, I think a heads up in the invites that there won't be service there should be fine.
posted by Candleman at 10:40 PM on February 9, 2014

What is the terrain like? Could you setup a sturdy mast with a directional antenna and get a line of sight (without obstruction) to someplace with a solid connection you control? If so, you could mount two parabolic grid antennae to create a bridge. Then you'd just need to deal with WiFi distribution on the wedding venue side of things.
posted by reeddavid at 12:40 AM on February 10, 2014

For big events, COWs are provided (Cell on Wheels). But they look expensive, and you may need one for each carrier and I have no idea if an individual can get access to these (as opposed to major event coordinators). But it's out there.
posted by CathyG at 6:45 AM on February 10, 2014

I find the option of having a wedding where there is not cell connectivity to be fucking brilliant. If someone can't get off the damn phone for a day to focus on being at your wedding, celebrating with the others in attendance, then...

Srsly, pick a place with no connection at all and make sure that's on the invite. Anyone who has a problem with that is the type who would take a call as you're walking down the aisle. They can watch the YouTube video, complete with lack of assholes talking/txting in the background.

Congratulations & best of luck.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:42 AM on February 10, 2014

Yes, there's a certain group of people who, in not having cell service, would be forced to interact and not be attached to their phones. But on the other hand, there will be parents whose kids aren't coming, people who may have life or work emergencies, and it would be a source of comfort to them. I've also read about people who use hashtags for their weddings so their friends and family can post candid pictures from the wedding on social media, and that aspect will be lost.

Just other viewpoints to consider.
posted by gchucky at 4:47 PM on February 10, 2014

If you think it's that important, talk the facilities into getting satellite internet (or they might have cable as an option), chose a different venue, or prepare to spend a substantial amount of money to do a one-off satellite based connection. 100 people sharing a consumer grade access point over a satellite uplink is pretty miserable. Is it worth $1000 to you? $2000?
posted by Candleman at 6:59 AM on February 11, 2014

FWIW, I found one article here that mentions, "spending almost $10,000 per home game plus ground rental (almost $100,000 in 2010) to provide a temporary C.O.W. cell on wheels to make sure that the venue was properly cover [sic]."

All other Googling of "cell on wheels rental" & variations gets me no definite prices, but a wide list of companies that provide these services. Which says to me that the companies want you to call/email them for a quote, because the price can vary a lot depending on location, length of time needed, and a whole host of various other technical & practical considerations. (My job involves something similar - rental of some fairly high-tech stuff - and virtually everyone in our industry takes the same approach, no specific price info on the website, we want you to call us for a specific quote for your specific needs, because there are a lot of variables that have an affect on the final price.)

So it looks like it's possible, but probably not cheap, and you'll need to put some work into finding out the actual cost.

The other venue also has nothing, but the owners are looking into bringing in WiFi.

Yeah, well . . . . .

I work a lot of events (including weddings) in a lot of different venues, and I will tell you from experience that the gap between owners "looking into" or "planning" to do something and the owners actually doing that thing can be a vast, enormous chasm.

If internet/cell coverage is genuinely important to you, I would not sign a contract with that place until and unless you actually have proof that functional WiFi exists there. I get that that's tough to do planning a wedding months in advance, and I'm sure the owners are lovely people that mean well and are totally sincere, but I think the chances are pretty high that you could walk into a situation months from now where the promised WiFi just doesn't exist, the owners haven't gotten around to it, oops, and now you & your guests are stuck without it, with various people at various levels of freaking out, which I don't think is a situation you want to be in on your wedding day.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:59 AM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

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