Wedding video is a fascinating topic. Layered on top of all the other wedding "must-haves," I'm of the opinion a wedding video truly is a must. Can you guess why?
Well, shucks, maybe it's because I'm a wedding film maker? No, that's only part of the answer.
The real reasons I encourage brides (and grooms!) to get a wedding video package is because of our tireless fascination with TV and movies. And Facebook.
Got you with Facebook, huh?
In today's world, we're bombarded with so much content, but there is one thing that holds our fascination and pulls us in. Can you guess what it is?
Yeah, it's video.
And if a common everyday video can pull you in and grab your attention, surely a wedding video, YOUR wedding video, will not only get your attention, but give you millions of ways to look at it, remember, it and cherish it.
How many times have you seen a movie more than once? Isn't it true that every time you see a movie more than once, there is always something you discover - some subtle nuance?
For a wedding video, that's built to stand the tests of time, you may not view it every day, or week, but perhaps you'll pull it out each wedding anniversary - and it's then that you'll notice your bridesmaid said something you never caught before, or it's that way his lips curled up into an emotional and quivering smile as soon as he saw his bride.
Those are the kind of observations one can only make with a wedding video.
For me, it's not a question of IF a bride should consider getting a wedding video. It's what should a bride expect of her wedding videographer/film maker experience, and to know the right questions to ask.
So for the bride (and groom) who want to know what questions to ask, here they are in no certain order.
Why Should I Get A Wedding Video?
Let's start with the basics - why should you get a wedding video?
Although we addressed a few solutions why earlier, let's play the time clock factor a bit and consider all of the items you've listed in your wedding plans. Then ask yourself this question:
Which of my wedding plans or outcomes will stand the test of time?
Your flowers, while necessary for decoration, will perish within the week or sooner. Your decorations as well may last a bit longer, they'll eventually fade or go out of style. You see where I'm going with this, right?
If you consider the outcomes, there are three wedding items that you can have to look upon for the rest of your life: your photos, your wedding film and your dress.
Oh, and your groom!
Even your wedding cake is meant to last a year so you can enjoy it on the First Anniversary, but after that the memorable tastes will eventually fade.
The brightest minds and the sharpest memories will all fade a bit over time. Having a physical item to lay your eyes upon brings back the joy of your best day.
A wedding video is therefore, one of the must haves.
With that question out of the way, there are several more, so let's attack them too.
What is a Highlight Film and should I get one?
When the topic of a wedding video crops up, its easy to forget that it's actually the term "wedding videos," much like wedding photos.
Your wedding ceremony is very formal - at least most of them are. There is the occasional and stubborn flower child or ring bearer that adds in some fun unexpectedly (you may get nervous it will happen, but you'll laugh when it does!) And for that reason, a wedding video is more than just the ceremony film.
A wedding highlight film is your opportunity to see everything that happened on your day, even showing things you wouldn't have time to see them.
What the groom's crew were doing, how the church looked before anyone showed up, the perspective of the church that only a drone could show, how all of the dances went during the reception - all of these are items not every bride and groom get to enjoy.
Let's call it the Butterfly Effect - only it's the butterflies in your stomach effect. You have better things to worry about than what everyone else is up to on your wedding day.
And that's what a highlight film does. It captures parts of the ceremony, but so much more so that you have a full perspective of the day's activities. And any videographer worth his/her salt either does or knows a quality editor who can take your footage and piece it together in an emotional story laid over with the day's sound bites and a moving sound track.
Should you get a highlight film - yes, it's a must have as well.
How long should I book a wedding videographer for?
Ever dependent on the budget, your best first step is to ask your wedding videographer how much of the day they'll cover. To get the most of your day and to get the most of your wedding film, the videographer should stay for as much of the day as possible.
From the time the bride and her party start doing their hair and make-up, to the reception and grand exit, you'll want someone to capture as much of the day as is possible.
Like a juicy orange, suck as much of the juice from your day as you can.
Simply ask your videographer their normal coverage to get a feel, then adjust accordingly.
It is in the best interest of the videographer to shoot as much of the wedding day activities as they can because the more opportunities to get memories on film, the better the wedding video will be.
Wait, won't the wedding videographer ruin the intimate atmosphere and annoy my guests?
You've already been to one of those weddings where the photographer or videographer stood directly in line with where you were sitting. You couldn't see and you shook your fist to God in your mind, swearing eternal vengeance on all camera-wielding idiots.
Hey, it's OK to admit that - I've had that happen myself.
A skilled photographer and wedding videographer are able to work WITH you, your party, your guests and the venues you'll be at. That means displaying courtesy, respect and cooperation throughout the day.
That should be the norm. But, I'm not going to lie and say there aren't a few bad eggs out there.
A skilled wedding videographer will do their best to remain unseen, so to speak. Like me, we try to be as quiet as possible, to think about the best shots and to capture them without getting into too many ways of others.
Is capturing a wedding couple on film totally doable without getting into someone's way?
But that is why you pay the pros - to do what you cannot, so that your guests can enjoy the events as well.
From my perspective (and hopefully yours!), a quality wedding video is a reflection of the day's activities. It's largely unrehearsed, a documentary of sorts as to how the day unfolds. When thought from that angle, a wedding videographer will be a fly on the wall, only they'll be lugging some equipment around their neck and tip toeing as much as they can.
If my budget is tight, what priorities should I focus on the most for my wedding video?
This is a tough question comparable to "How many episodes of The Bachelor should I watch this season?"
Duh, all of them!
At the very least, having your wedding videographer create a package that includes your wedding ceremony and highlight film is the very least you'll want, with as much coverage as possible.
The remaining add-ons are really a personal decision.
Some couples prefer a second shooter, who is basically a partner to the videographer, and helps to capture more video. Not only do they gain more perspectives, they assist the videographer. While some insist a wedding can not be shot without a second shooter and that added costs, that may signal you to find a different videographer to help stay within your budget.
Other couples prefer the same day edit - where the videographer quickly edits the day's activities into a film that is shown to the reception guests. Videographers who can pull this off are a rare breed of the best, but for them to do this, at least a second or third shooter are required so that they can film your reception while the videographer is editing.
And that means having a same day edit requires at least a second shooter, so that will impact your budget on two fronts.
Other add-ons include having the raw files of your wedding day, 4K footage, and more. It's always a matter of personal preference, budget and desire. At the very least, having your wedding videographeHeading 2r capture your day in High Definition with a ceremony and highlight film is a basic package - and why it's the most popular of all. Focus on those pieces, and the rest will be fine.
How long should my wedding highlight film be?
To do your wedding day justice, a standard length of a wedding highlight film should be anywhere between six to eight minutes (and more, depending on your budget). When you consider the length of your day, and all that transpires, sandwiching that down to anything less than six minutes may leave out some good memories.
However, here's some additional considerations.
Most wedding film makers will use a 6-8 minute wedding film as part of a base package. And that is because a cinematic wedding film is pretty popular these days. Let's be honest, having your own privately made film is pretty cool!
Bear in mind this highlight film is exactly that - a highlight reel of the best moments of your wedding day. It's not necessarily a documentary, with multiple interviews of friends and family. That is always a possibility to request, but the highlight film is a fast-moving composite of the entire day, whereas a documentary film of the day can be much longer.
If you want to share something with friends and family, and to have something to re-watch again and again, a highlight film is strongly recommended. If you prefer something with more minutes, or specific audio or just a little more put into it, just ask your wedding videographer what they can do for you. I'm sure they'll be happy to accommodate.
What style of wedding film should I request?
When you meet up with your wedding videographer, it is important to discuss what kind of film they can create as well as the type you want to purchase.
BE SURE YOU ARE BOTH ON THE SAME PAGE.
There's nothing worse than expecting to purchase one thing, then instead get another.
To that point, you can either view the work of your videographer ahead of time to see if they have a certain style, but even with that said, ask them to be sure they are going to achieve the same style you had intended.
- Documentary/Journalistic style - this style of wedding video is very linear - meaning it conveys your wedding day in a chronological order. It will "document" your day, with interviews, congratulatory messages and refrain from much interaction with guests. It's not a popular style, but some couples prefer this for a bit of a different approach.
- Cinematic style - by far the most popular form of wedding video currently shown and extremely well received. The cinematic style embraces slow motion sequences, such as a wedding dress flowing in the breeze, a couple embracing, a slow walk through a field, etc. Audio is often overlaid on top of beautiful visuals. With today's technology, utilizing steadicams, gimbals and image stabilization within the camera, this form of wedding film brings out the most pure emotion of the day.
- Short form film style - this is a more costly version of your wedding film, often starting at 10-15 minutes or more. This is an extension of the cinematic style, but with more audio, complete toasts or reception activities, etc. Short forms elongate certain parts of the day, often to the credit of what action is occurring, for a more complete memory.
- Traditional style - while not often observed, this is the longest form of a wedding film that embraces minimal editing and is the most raw form of a wedding video. If you want to make sure you don't miss any part of the wedding day, traditional is your source. But as many find, the film becomes a bit long in our day and age of instant gratification and wandering attention spans. Traditional style films are rarely offered, but it never hurts to ask.
Most wedding film makers identify with their own style of film making - which may be the very reason why you chose them. Ask for clarification, allow them to explain their vision and make your decision from there if they are the right choice.
A pro in any industry will often have great input and advice on what you want in your wedding video, but if you are set on what you want it to look like, you might expect to seek out a few videographers before you arrive at a booked event. Some videographers may only shoot in a certain style, or their style - and while there's nothing wrong with how they choose to shoot, the most important aspect is to make sure it matches with your style as well.
What style of music can the videographer use for your wedding film?
OK, this topic is a bit prickly.
And can be pricey.
A common question during the wedding video conversation is to ask the videographer if they can place your favorite Taylor Swift song into your wedding film. It's a song you fell in love with many moons ago, and it may in fact be YOUR SONG that you and your beloved first danced to, etc.
Although that is a great plan and a desire of most, reality and those damn record labels have other plans. You see, there's thing called copyrighted material - and most if not all music is just that - copyrighted.
Music labels look at it from the perspective of profit. If my band creates music, they deserve to get paid each time that song is performed. Especially when you are paying a videographer for a film to be made for you, and yet the band gets none of the dollars you paid in.
In most instances, popular music is VERY expensive to purchase the rights to. Those commercials you see on TV are paying $$$,$$$ to use certain songs. So when your videographer says T-Swift is not OK with you using her stuff, they are simply looking out for your best interest.
To that point, there are a variety of royalty-free music sites every wedding video maker has access to, and they are very familiar with what works best in a wedding film. With that said, be sure to express your personalities and weigh in if you like on what kind of music you'd prefer.
Many wedding videos start with an emotional song that morphs into a more upbeat pace by the end as the romantic notions of your wedding give way to the celebratory emphasis of your reception and dance. So many times you'll actually get two flavors of music, sometimes more.
Talk this point over with your wedding film maker if it is a big deal. Music is a hot emotional trigger for a wedding video, so be sure to get it right the first time.
How well will my wedding videographer get along with the other vendors I've hired?
For some of you, there was probably a grade school report card or a recent evaluation you received that had that one area entitled, "Gets along well with others."
Seen that one before?
This is rarely seen but is an apparent concern due to its searchability on Google. Will the photographer and the videographer get along?
During tense yet desired moments during a wedding, it is indeed a documented fact that certain vendors just don't want to play well with others. And in these situations, the bride and groom have one trick up their sleeve to keep everyone at bay.
If your vendors don't have a 4-star rating or higher, check out the reasons why. A lack of professional courtesy could be the culprit.
Any and every business owner should be held accountable for acting in a non-professional manner. Especially during your wedding (or anyone else's).
Everyone wants to get the best shot and yes, a photographer can get in the way of the videographer - or vice versa. But the professional amongst the group will remind everyone that they are all on the same team - Team Married Couple - and that working together goes much further than going against.
I've been in one of those situations where the photographer continued to get in the way. Rather, it was the second shooter who had no awareness of where they were and assumed to control all versus work as a team. Few scenarios are perfect. But for your wedding, if there is any doubt an individual or business vendor appears the least bit challenging to get along with - don't hire them.
Your wedding day is too important for conflict to rear its ugly head!
When should I expect to get my completed wedding video(s)?
Your Big Day will come and go much faster than you ever imagined. It's common to want to see the wedding film at the earliest opportunity. So with that thought in mind...
Simply ask your wedding film maker - what is your normal turn around time for wedding films during this time of the year? (Note: time of year)
If you're getting married during the traditional busy time of the wedding season (June through October), then your wedding vendors are at their peak. This is THE busiest time of year for wedding videographers and photographers. And try as they might, the conveyor belt of projects goes faster than the ability to keep up.
However - most videographers should return your wedding films back to you within three to six weeks. Anything longer than that should require a conversation, which is why you should...
Ask Your Wedding Videographer How Long It Will Take To Get Your Wedding Film Completed.
I put that in capitals because it's a simple question, but rarely asked.
What I would say to brides is to be patient to a point. Your videographer will do their very best job - and for that once in a lifetime wedding video, getting everything dialed in just right demands full focus of your videographer and their team.
Ask up front what the time frame is - and if your budget allows, ask if they have a priority plan. This doesn't allow you to butt in front of others, but some film makers may have contracted editors they can pay extra to do the work for them.
I've heard horror stories of brides not getting their wedding film back in over a year since their Big Day. That is not only unprofessional, it's a crime!
Do yourself a favor - just ask up front so you can arrive at the best videographer for you.
How long have you been filming weddings, Mr. Videographer?
In the popular Malcolm Gladwell book, Outliers, it was asserted that to be an expert once must do a certain activity for at least 10,000 hours before they could be an expert in that field.
And so it goes with videography - that you are only good at what you do IF you have been doing it longer than the next person.
I want to challenge that line of thinking for three different reasons.
The first reason is the Good, Cheap, Fast model shown here. If you want something done quickly and good, it won't be cheap.
If you want something done fast and cheap, it could be done fast, but it probably won't be any good.
And if you want something good and cheap, it won't come quickly.
So as a function of time, hiring someone who has been doing weddings for a while may posit that they are good and fast perhaps, but you can rest assured they won't be cheap.
The second reason to challenge length on the job doing weddings is that many of the skills doing various films can translate over to weddings. A film maker, at their heart, is a story teller. And a wedding is the best story of all - as two become one and live happily ever after.
The third reason to challenge length on the job is...it's just not always true. Experience doesn't always translate over. Quantity DOES NOT EQUAL Quality.
Case in point: a videographer friend of mine was a wedding guest and observed the wedding videographer. This film maker had the highest end equipment my friend had ever seen. We're talking Hollywood level cameras, lenses, etc.
But when the wedding film hit social media - I was shocked as was my friend. The quality of the filming was second to none. However, the editing of the film was horrendous. There was little to no cinematic movement. There was no b-roll footage (complimentary movements to match the voice over, etc.) and worst of all - there was no story told. The wedding couple weren't happy with the film as well as the extravagant price they paid.
While asking how long someone has been filming wedding videos, don't forget to ask them for samples of their work. You'll not only get a flair for how good they are, but for their style. Be sure those sync with yours.
What equipment will you use? (And why this is not as important as you might think.)
The best chefs in the world have the most expensive knives. The best drivers in the world have the most expensive cars.
So, do the best wedding videographers have the most expensive equipment?
Sony is well known to perform well in low light - as in a church ceremony or wedding reception. But Canon is well known to have the best lenses - think crisper images. Then there is the growing and very popular Panasonic GH-5 with buttery smooth slow motion filming capabilities.
The nuances with equipment then go down a crazy rabbit hole because the limitations with each camera system can be solved using other equipment. So does your wedding videographer have that equipment (like a nice Aputure 120D to solve for low light)?
More important are these two questions - do they know how to use that equipment AND can you afford to hire that videographer?
Of all the questions I field from my clients, only ONE TIME has anyone ever asked what equipment I use. And to be honest, I take that as a compliment.
While us videographers and photographers pride ourselves on the gear we use, always looking for that next best camera or lens, the truth of the matter is that the law of diminishing returns eventually pop up. There is only so much gear you can buy - and if you are constantly staying current with the equipment, your prices would have to inflate to pay that equipment off.
Instead of focusing on the equipment a videographer uses, focus on the end product. Is the videographer able to film in slow motion (if that is important to you?). Can they film in low light settings? Can they product the types of shots YOU want?
Yes, equipment is important - but to an extent. At the end of the day, make sure your wedding videographer can deliver on the type of film you crave the most.
Have you shot at my church or wedding reception venue before?
This question is added to our list, but not because it's important but because OTHERS THINK IT'S IMPORTANT.
But I'm not convinced it's important at all and neither should you. Here's why.
Yes, to have shot a wedding film at a venue has some advantages. Knowing the lighting situation, who the owners are, what they will and won't allow - these are all good things.
However, these same questions and issues can all be uncovered given 15-20 minutes. And all of these would be a normal part of filming a wedding because if there is one thing to expect at a wedding, it is the unexpected.
With so many moving parts, so many people, and so much planning - Murphy's Law applies and all you can do is expect that unexpected. So with that being said, any wedding videographer worth their fees will have the resources to solve most any situation.
What packages do you offer?
Perhaps the most popular question of all, and hardly necessary to include, is the question of packages (and pricing). But it is equally important to add this to our list because it is necessary to distinguish that there is more than one option on the table for a wedding couple to choose from.
While most wedding film makers will have a popular or "go to" package, couples like to have options. So having a variety of packages is very much on the need-to-have list of wedding videographers.
Packages can start with the most basic of films - perhaps just the wedding ceremony or perhaps just the wedding highlight film. Be sure that whatever package you choose includes the time frame your wedding videographer will be there to capture the day.
Filming just your wedding ceremony may not necessitate the need for all-day coverage, but most couples prefer a highlight film in addition to the ceremony footage, and with that being the case, multiple hour coverage is highly recommended.
A step up in the packages might include more minutes for your highlight film or more hours for your wedding videographer to record. Either situation requires more time and thus, more price.
Additional costs in upgraded packages may also include filming done during the rehearsal, the "How We Met" love story (my personal favorite), an expanded reception film that shows all the toasts and first dances and more.
I'm a big fan of the love story for two reasons. First, given that the love story filming occurs prior to the wedding ceremony, you get added exposure to your videographer so that the opportunity to learn more about each other is there. The other bonus from doing a love story is that the families from both sides get to see why the wedding couple matches up so well - and you get to learn about how the groom met the bride, what their courtship looked like, etc.
Love stories are a win for everyone!
Additional package options may also include how the couple receives their film, on what form of media, and how much access their package provides. For example, you can get your film via digital download using Vimeo.com, Dropbox.com, MediaZilla.com, etc. Your videographer may provide your film on a USB flash drive or SD card. And for premium pricing, you can ask your wedding video film maker to place all of your footage onto a hard drive.
What is the process you use when editing (and what is your back-up routine)?
So much attention is given to the front end of making a wedding film, that little is given to the "post-production" aspects. And this, in my opinion, is more important for several reasons if you want your wedding video to shine.
Editing a wedding video is the act of going through all of the video footage, finding the best audio and video clips to use, digitally "splicing" them together, creating a story, adding titles and effects, and manipulating the footage to build a beautiful experience.
This is no small task. But that's not all that is involved in the editing process.
There's that space of time between when the wedding footage is taken and when the editing process begins. And that space can make or break the entire wedding film because we're talking about the protection of all of the data captured.
Depending on the format of footage taken, a camera recording in 4K can take up a 200 gigabytes of storage space, at the very least, not to mention your audio files in addition. If anything were to occur to the SD cards (what film data is recorded on by a camera), the entire wedding video would be lost.
And that's why a strong backup routine is paramount to choosing the best wedding videographer.
At the end of the day once the cameras and equipment are all packed up, the first thing a wedding film maker should do is back up your data. But doing it just once is not enough.
Although not necessary for everyone, I find the greatest peace of mind when I have backed up my video footage for all weddings to at least three separate drives. My personal back up of wedding film footage includes the following:
- Total archive/backup of raw data to three separate hard drives (on-site)
- An additional back up to a cloud-based server or drive
- The importing of all footage in a separate file that is what I use to begin my editing of each wedding video
- If resources allow, I will keep the footage of each SD card intact until each card is re-formatted for the next project I'm hired to shoot
When you're discussing the intake of a wedding film, arguably the most important day in a person's life, the back up process is simply the most important aspect to ensure everything possible is taken to protect that footage.
Do you offer the ability for a second shooter?
As discussed earlier, having a second (or third or more!) second shooter just means that your wedding film maker will provide an assistant or someone who will man an additional camera.
So why is this important?
Again, as a function of costs, having a second shooter is a great idea, especially for couples who don't want to miss a beat. If both the groom and bride are getting ready at the same times, one shooter will accompany the bride and her bridesmaids while the second shooter will hang with the groom and groomsmen.
Having two people in two separate areas is a bonus, especially if the prep areas are geographically separate. While many couples prepare for the big day in a large hotel or church, some prefer to use their own homes or just keep things at arm's length. In these cases, a second shooter is a big asset.
Another way a second shooter is of benefit is the amount of footage they can also bring to the table. Often times the main videographer will set up at least one stationary camera in the back of the church to capture a wide angle shot of the ceremony and then will move throughout during the service using various lenses to get even closer to the action. A second shooter can work with the main videographer and stay on the groom's or bride's side, to capture them from behind the officiant, or behind.
The options are less limited with a second shooter and when multiple cameras are running, there are more memories to be gained. However, many qualified videographers do great running solo, so this is not a deal breaker unless your requests totally hinge on another shooter.
And, in closing...
Although fairly comprehensive in scope, this post is meant to cover the basic questions every bride (and groom) should ask when it comes to creating their perfect wedding video. Please use this as a guide only, know that many arguments for and against each of our provided questions is valid and are very unique to each situation.
We strongly recommend that your videographer involve you in your wedding film. You'll know in your initial consultation whether the individual will involve you or not. For that reason, bring this list of questions with you, cover them in as much detail as is pertinent and most of all...have fun in the process!