Taco Bell Metaverse Wedding

Taco Bell Metaverse Wedding

The Electric Factory capped off their metaverse run with DeutschLA (that also included Snapple and LOWES) with the most bombastic event so far. At The Antipodean we tuned in, smiled, cooed, laughed and actually cried. And then spent the following weeks explaining to people that a real couple really did get married!

You can read commentary and coverage in Gizmodo, Business Insider, People, MIT Technology Review, from which excerpts are below.

First Comes Love, Then Comes Tacos

Winning out over 300 couples who applied to win the Taco Bell metaverse wedding of their dreams, Sheel, a co-founder of Better Tomorrow Ventures, a venture capital firm and Amruta, a lawyer at Instagram, embody what it means to love and live más. No strangers to the joys of virtual partnership, the Bay-area based couple's story started after a mutual friend connected the pair and they shared an hours-long phone call where they learned about each other's lives and upbringings – both of which included a passion for Taco Bell.

The pair share an Indian heritage as well as a vegetarian lifestyle, making the eatery's vegetarian* options tried-and-true staples in their everyday lives. It was only fitting that one of their first IRL dates took place over a romantic beach-front meal at Taco Bell's Pacifica location, which has been named the "world's most beautiful Taco Bell." During a trip to Mexico, the lovestruck couple were engaged over a meal of tacos, and the rest made Taco Bell and metaverse history.

For Taco Bell, it was not only a marketing opportunity but an outgrowth of what its fans wanted. The chapel at the company’s Taco Bell Cantina restaurant in Las Vegas has married 800 couples so far. There were copycat virtual weddings, too. “T​​aco Bell saw fans of the brand interact in the metaverse and decided to meet them quite literally where they were,” a spokesperson said. That meant dancing hot sauce packets, a Taco Bell–themed dance floor, a turban for Sheel, and the famous bell branding everywhere.

This isn’t the first time Taco Bell has shown up in the world of unconventional marriage and Web 3.0. In 2017, the company launched its Las Vegas Cantina’s Wedding Package, a Taco Bell twist on Vegas elopements. Since its launch, the Taco Bell Vegas Cantina has conducted nearly 800 weddings inside the restaurant chapel. When it comes to Web 3.0 cred, cult followers have already virtualized their devotion by creating spaces in various metaverse platforms, inspiring Taco Bell to develop its limited line of taco-themed NFTs in 2021, selling out in just thirty minutes.

Taco Bell has been leveraging 3D virtual world and browser-based platform Decentraland for its web3/metaverse initiatives. Rather than recreating a storefront within the virtual world, the fast-food retailer has zoned in on lifestyle experiences, launching a wedding-themed contest within a replica of its Las Vegas Wedding Chapel. Taco Bell announced that out of over 300 couples who applied to win a Taco Bell metaverse wedding, Sheel Mohnot and Amruta Godbole said “I do” on February 24 in Decentraland.

"We're always looking for new ways to meet our fans where they already are and provide them with signature Taco Bell experiences… even when that's in the metaverse," said Sean Tresvant, Taco Bell's chief brand officer, last year.

Meet the Couple Saying "I Do"

"When we heard about the contest, we knew it was the perfect opportunity for us. Now that we're getting closer to the wedding day, we're excited to see the vision come to life," said bride-to-be Amruta Godbole. "We're really looking forward to sharing the experience with our friends and family from all over the globe - many of whom may not have been able to attend in-person. Some of them still don't totally understand the idea of a metaverse wedding, but once they knock back a couple of virtual bottles of Baja Blasts, I think they'll get in the spirit."

After the wedding, Sheel had this to say: "I thought this was going to be some fun, random thing to add to our list of unique experiences. But this was a lot more real than I expected it to be.”

And for groom-to-be, Sheel Mohnot, Taco Bell holds many memories dating all the way back to his childhood, so the wedding is truly a full-circle moment: "Growing up, Taco Bell was one of the only places we'd eat out and going there was a special occasion. Now, while eating out isn't a luxury in the same way - I somehow still find myself coming back to my familiar Taco Bell favorites. We are excited to be a part of the Taco Bell family, as well as experience things we'd never get to do in an IRL wedding - like ride an elephant to the venue!"

"Some of [our family] still don't totally understand the idea of a metaverse wedding, but once they knock back a couple of virtual bottles of Baja Blasts, I think they'll get in the spirit."

The wedding wasn’t just Taco Bell themed, it was also a traditional Indian ceremony, hosted by actor Kal Penn, whose bearded Decentraland character ran around in a red tuxedo. Immediately, things got weird. Sheel burst onto the scene atop a purple elephant in a procession called a baraat escorting the groom to the site of the wedding. You can’t ride on things in Decentraland, so Taco Bell had to work with the platform to create a brand new feature for Sheel’s entrance. High on his elephant, Sheel used his avatar’s “make it rain” emote to toss dollar bills into the virtual crowd.

“If I could make my avatar cry, I would,” -Kal Penn

The wedding pushes past previous platform limitations with never before seen elements that Decentraland users will be able to view even after the wedding for a limited time. The groom's avatar will ride into the venue on an elephant in a customary baraat procession, paying homage to the duo's Indian roots. Additionally, after saying "I do," the couple will unveil a kissing emote in the metaverse, specifically designed for the occasion. Of course, it wouldn't be a Taco Bell wedding without food! Guests will also bear witness to the largest virtual Cinnabon Delights® cake that the brand has ever created.

Planning a wedding in the metaverse allowed for the maximum level of creativity and customization to authentically tailor the event to the couple. This includes a notable Master of Ceremonies who will facilitate the wedding. For this memorable occasion, it will be none other than Kal Penn, an American actor who shares the couple's Indian heritage and is thrilled to play a vital role in Sheel and Amruta's matrimonial journey.

Additional customized wedding details include personalized wearables, or avatar outfits, for the couple and their invited guests. Adding to the list of cultural celebrations, the couple will be married under a mandap which forms the sacred space where the couple will say their vows. Under the mandap will be a custom agni, a sacred fire involved in some Indian wedding rituals, designed to look like a hot sauce packet set to flame – merging the best of the couple's culture and Taco Bell's signature flare.

After enjoying their first dance as a married couple, Amruta will throw a hot sauce bouquet which will turn into an interactive Bouquet Toss Game, with bragging rights as the reward. Both the public who attend the Decentraland wedding and those who visit the venue after the celebration can participate in this fun competition. Additional activities include showing off their moves on the Taco Bell dance floor alongside the Sauce Packet Dancers, snapping some pictures in a photo booth and hitting up the Mtn Dew® Baja Blast® Station. For those looking to enjoy Taco Bell IRL, guests at the public reception will be able to visit the reception's food table and scan a QR code that links to an offer**  and a menu curated by the couple featuring their favorite vegetarian dishes for consumers to purchase.

On the big day, 100 of the couple's invited guests will be able to enjoy the wedding ceremony first-hand through the eyes of their avatars, where they'll even have the chance to meet the Master of Ceremonies, Kal Penn.

For those who were not able to attend the ceremony in avatar form, popular Twitch streamer and Taco Bell superfan Jordan Payton livestreamed the event so viewers could follow along.