You might think that a wedding video is a luxury that you can do without. But consider this: Only a video will let you hear your loved one’s vows or see you enthusiastically smooshing cakes in each others’ faces. A wedding video captures all the sights and sounds of what will be one of the most exciting days of your life.
Many couples who want a video try to save money by asking a relative or friend to record the wedding. But this can be a risky choice! Many amateurs don’t have experience shooting weddings and have little knowledge about the ceremony or traditions involved. And that means there’s a good chance they will miss important shots.
For example, consider the volunteer videographer who set up his camera on the far side of the wedding guests, anticipating the bride’s grand entrance. He had a beautiful view of the wedding procession. Unfortunately, he was completely unprepared when everyone stood at the bride’s arrival and his great shot was blocked. By the time he’d shut down the camera and moved to a better location, he’d missed her walk down the aisle. Imagine the disappointment of everyone viewing that video.
Better to avoid such scenarios by following the advice of industry experts who say you should plan to spend as much on the wedding video as you do on your photography. And it makes sense when you think about it. Your wedding day will become one of the greatest memories of your life together as a married couple. A video will keep the memory alive (yes, even Uncle Bart’s drunken dancing!).
Speaking of memories, make sure that the person you have behind the video camera is someone you feel comfortable with. You’ll be spending as much of your wedding day with them as you will with your photographer.
- Selecting a Videographer
- Questions to Ask When Choosing a Videographer
- Costs Involved
- The Contract
- Fun Ideas
Selecting a Videographer
Where to Start
Book your videographer as soon as possible – six months to a year in advance is advisable. The best ones can be booked far in advance. As always, begin by chatting to family and friends with recent wedding experience. Trusted, firsthand experience is always going to be your best bet. Other good sources include your photographer, local wedding consultants, bridal show exhibitors and any other people you can think of in the wedding industry. Most will have worked with a variety of videographers and should be able to offer names to consider – or avoid! You can also find prospects in your local listings, on the Internet and by contacting the Better Business Bureau.
Narrowing It Down
Start by calling the most promising candidates. You’ll be able to narrow your list down rapidly by eliminating the ones who won’t be available on your date or who live too far away. Ask the rest for references in advance. Former clients can give you a good idea of what sort of service you can expect. Also ask what they would do differently if they had the chance. Based on their feedback, you can start making appointments.
When Meeting Videographers
Look at completed wedding videos rather than a demo DVD with highlights. You’ll get a much better idea of the videographer’s style and ability. Pay close attention to details. And don’t hesitate to ask questions at this point. Your goal is to find the RIGHT person for YOU. Your potential videographers should ask a lot of questions as well. Answer them as honestly and completely as you can. You’ll get a far better product if the shooter understands your needs and expectations.
Get it in Writing
Schedule another meeting as soon as you’ve settled on a videographer. This is the time to finalize all details – in writing! Make sure you’ve covered all your bases in the contract. Review it carefully and question anything you are unsure about. Also expect to secure the booking with a deposit at this meeting.
What to Look For
Trust your eyes! If you don’t like what you see, it’s time to move on. If you do like what you see, start taking notes!
Ask yourself the following when judging videos:
- Style. Does the video capture the look and feel that you want? Can you picture your wedding being recorded in the same style? Do the people on the video seem overly aware of the camera?
- Technical. Are the subjects fuzzy or in focus? Is the camera work shaky or smooth?
- Editing. Does each scene progress naturally? Does the video seem to flow or is it choppy?
- Composition. Are the images attractive and well-balanced? Is there good use of space and shadow?
- Lighting. Does the video reflect a lot of glare? Does it seem dark? Are details easy to distinguish?
- Sound. Can you hear the vows and music clearly? Is there too much background noise? Overall, does the sound seem natural or does it give the impression of coming from a distant cave?
- Color. Does the video appear vivid or dull? Do skin tones look natural?
Questions to Ask When Choosing a Videographer
Are you the person who will be shooting my video?
Make sure that you are meeting the actual shooter. Insist on seeing that person’s work and listing their name on the contract. Otherwise, you could end up with someone completely different on your wedding day. How long have you been shooting weddings? The whole point of hiring a professional videographer is to ensure there are no amateur mistakes. Don’t be afraid to ask for credentials, or to walk away if you don’t like what you hear.
Are you familiar with my ceremony and reception sites?
Your videographer will need advance warning of any lighting or sound challenges. Unless they are quite familiar with your sites, they will need to scout the locations ahead of time. Find out if there will be additional charges for this service. And check with your site’s management about any restrictions or rules regarding recording. You’ll want your videographer well-informed.
What’s your preferred style of recording?
Share your ideas and ask about theirs. Be as clear and specific as possible when describing what you want and don’t want. Find out how your candidates organize their recording. Do they shoot masses of footage that requires post-production editing or do they stick with in-camera edits? One style permits more artistic expression and dramatic cinematographic effects, and the other allows quick turnaround and (usually) a lower cost. Be sure to ask – and get all quotes in writing.
What about multiple cameras?
You’ll also want to discuss the number of cameras that would be used. If possible, ask to be shown sample DVDs made from the footage of one camera versus that of two or three cameras so that you can see the difference. Be aware that the price increases with the addition of each camera. Also ask about the experience level of any crew a videographer works with.
Are there any photographers in town that you have had difficulty working with?
It’s important that the photographer and videographer work together well. And it’s much better to find out about any problems before you get too far into the process. Be sure to check with your photographer as well. You may have to pick your favorite in one specialty and go with your second choice in the other. Once you’ve selected your photography professionals, have them coordinate their efforts by phone or email before the wedding. You’ll also want to ask your shooter to get some video of your photographer in action on your big day and vice versa.
Do you have questions about my ceremony?
Offer the basic details about your ceremony and traditions. Find out how they want to work around your schedule. And do your best to respond to their questions and concerns. This is also a good time to raise the questions of whether they interview guests and how they visualize the progression of events.
Can you give me a price range for an event of this size?
Determine which candidates are within your price range. You may have to cut back in other areas so you afford the one you want.
When do I make the deposit and pay off the balance?
It’s important to get a breakdown of all costs – in writing – ahead of time. Know that most deposits are non-refundable and that there may be additional charges for any overtime work. Remain aware of what is owed and what additional charges and restrictions there might be.
How much footage will be taken?
A professional will record between two to six hours of material, using one or more cameras. Depending on the package you choose, you should receive a 60- to 120-minute final or “master” video. Many believe that in this case, less is truly more. Be sure to discuss all the options with your videographer to determine what will work best for you.
What will the finished video look like?
You need to know if there will be post-editing done or if graphics and music will be added. Special effects are usually offered at an additional price. Be very clear and precise as to what you want your finished DVD to look like.
When can I expect final delivery?
The delivery date will depend on the style of video you choose. A simple, one-camera shoot could be complete at the end of your day. A multi-camera shoot that requires extensive studio editing can take months to complete. This is another detail to confirm up front and spell out in the contract.
What is your policy on the master tape?
The master is the final product. Most videographers will keep this tape and provide you with the agreed-upon number of copies. Ask how long the tape will be stored and about the cost of copies or “dubs”. You may also be able to purchase the master after a period of time.
What type of equipment do you use?
Digital is the industry standard when it comes to wedding video production and is no longer the expensive choice over videotape. It is easily accessible to everyone from video producers, editors and shooters. It archives well and doesn’t loose color quality over the years, like its tape predecessor.
HD (high definition) DVD and Blu-ray™ are the current highest resolution for a final product and will add to the cost. These formats also require larger file sizes and take longer for editors to create, hence the added expense. HD can be 1080 or 720 resolution. The preferred resolution is 1080. This produces the maximum results in sharpness and color quality. When viewing samples, always ask what format they were shot in. A careful look will help you decide which one is right for you.
Do you offer music?
Copyright laws can make the selection of popular music both complicated and expensive. Many videographers and studios stock a licensed generic music library to select from. Some will agree to use your favorite music, but only if you sign a special release relieving them of any liability. Others will only include the tunes played at your event in the form of ambient sound. Discuss the options with each of your candidates.
Do you carry back-up equipment?
Competent videographers always carry back-up equipment on location. You don’t want to miss any important moments because your shooter’s battery ran out! What sort of satisfaction guarantee do you offer? You need to know how a videographer will handle any problems. Most will gladly explain their policies and spell out all guarantees and responsibilities in the contract.
Professional videography can be a significant investment for you. If you’re keen to make this investment, count on spending a minimum of several hundred dollars on a professional wedding video. In-depth pieces with lots of post-production can run as high as $5,000 or even more. The majority average around $1,500.
The number of cameras used may or may not affect quality, but it can have a real effect on cost. Many weddings can be shot with one camera while others really do need more. Make sure any shooter who wants multiple cameras can explain their reasoning to your satisfaction.
Shooting & Editing
The way your video is shot can have a lot to do with the final costs. If you want a documentary-style record, make sure the videographer is willing to start early and stay late. Be sure to discuss all overtime expenses. Stacks of footage from multiple cameras will need a lot of expensive editing time. Be sure to ask for the most cost-effective way to achieve the look you want.
Lights & Sound
You might think the addition of crew such as lighting or sound assistants is excessive. But ask to see video examples with and without the crew to determine the right option for your big event. You might just find that the added quality is well worth the extra $100 or $200 for each assistant.
Non-religious settings usually translate into better videos for the simple reason that they have fewer lighting restrictions. But a good videographer should be able to work around your location. Just make sure they are familiar with the site as well as any restrictions that it might have.
Titles and subtitles (including the date, time, location of the wedding, the bride and groom’s names, names of the bridal party and special thanks to whoever helped with the wedding) can be edited onto your film. Some videographers charge more for this so be sure to discuss this option and get in writing exactly what titles will be included.
Special effects (like slow motion or fades) are not the only way to personalize your video. Adding photos of the two of you as children or while dating can provide some special moments. You might include engagement or wedding announcements, love letters or a list of favorite songs. Keep in mind that each addition will raise the price of the final product to some degree, but your videographer should be able to work with you to get the most for your money.
Remember, if it’s not in writing, it might not happen. Make sure that all details are covered in the contract. This will protect you and the videographer by making sure that everyone’s expectations are spelled out.
There is no such thing as a standard contract. Be prepared to spend time reviewing all of its provisions. Ask if you are unsure about something. And point out any discrepancies. The contract is not binding until you sign it.
A thorough videography contract should include:
- Exact time and date of the shoot
- Special requests and fees
- Estimated hours of work
- Provisions for overtime hours
- Approximate length of video
- Estimated cost of any post-production work
- Payment schedule
- Contingency clause to cover emergencies such as illness or equipment failure
- Cost of video dubs, including any bulk discounts
- Disposition of master tape
- Guarantees and liabilities
- Names and contact information of any crew members
- Name, contact information and signature of videographer
Instead of letting your guests know about your upcoming nuptials on a printed piece of card (yawn!), why not send them a video where you can inject some personality and bring a smile to their faces? Check out these kooky couples’ all-singing, all-dancing save-the-dates.
There’s now a way to combine amateur with professional videography – a company called Weddeos provides your guests with video cameras and then edits the footage into a fun DVD. Find out more.