(Vide Occasions, Bellevue WA)
2000 by the author
the 1860’s, when photography first became possible, still’s
photographers have recorded weddings.
Most brides and grooms today have looked at the photo albums, which
preserve the memory of their parent’s wedding. Unanswered by the photos
are questions such as “how did Mom manage that huge train as she walked
down the aisle?” “Was Dad able to bend over in his stiffly starched
shirt?” “Was their first
dance as graceful as their dancing today?”
missing from these frozen moments of the wedding are the sights, the
sounds and the bustle of activity that only moving images can capture.
Videography has given today’s bride and grooms the opportunity to
have a memoir of their wedding created, complete with all the sights and
sounds of that most important event in their lives, a memory which can be
revisited for years to come.
a video record of a wedding is a job best left to professionals. “Why
would we want a professionally made wedding video?” ask many brides and
grooms. “Uncle Charlie
offered to do it for us for free.”
As we’ll see in the rest of this article, there is a lot to
wedding Videography that Uncle Charlie probably doesn’t know about.
Wedding Video Styles
videos tend to fall into either the documentary/journalistic or what might be called the MTV
style. Neither is better than the other; they’re just different.
the still photographer, who carefully poses each picture, the documentary
style videographer records things as they happen. The activities of
the wedding day are captured candidly, and often include moments the bride
and groom never see on their wedding day, being occupied elsewhere.
Videographers who work in the documentary
style shoot as much of the wedding day activities as they can, then
select the footage that best tells the story of the wedding.
who work in the MTV style
are more likely to “stage” couples, like a movie director arranging a
scene. In this regard, the MTV
style videographer is somewhat like the still photographer.
Videographers who specialize in the MTV
style are excellent choices for couples who want a “how we met”
Love Story, and who do not mind having the natural flow of the wedding day
interrupted from time to time by requests to pose or perform for the
videographer. Like documentary
style videographers, the MTV
style professional will also carefully select – “edit” –
footage to tell the wedding story.
“Long Form” or “Short Form?”
many years, wedding videos have documented virtually all of the wedding
day. Often from ninety minutes to two hours in length, so-called “long
form” wedding videos faithfully record every moment of the wedding
service and, in addition to such traditional events as the toasts, garter
and bouquet toss and cake cutting ceremonies, record a great deal of the
dancing that goes on at the reception.
brides have been asking about more abbreviated wedding day coverage.
The focus of the “short form” videotape is the emotional
content of the wedding day. Videographers working in the format emphasize
those “special moments” which are the signature of the wedding day: the moments shared with the bride and members of her family,
the exchange of vows, the intimacy of the first dance, and the parent’s
dance at the reception. “Short
form” videos are often only thirty to forty minutes in length.
form the bride chooses is a matter of personal taste.
Discuss these forms with your wedding videographer.
Decide what’s right for you.
cost to expect:
you’ve decided what style of video you want, and what form, you can
consider costs. In budgeting for your wedding, a good rule of thumb is to
be prepared to pay at least as much for your wedding videographer as you
pay for your wedding photographer. Prices can vary from as little as £300
to as much as £5,000 or more, depending on the options
length of coverage and the amount of editing involved, and the reputation
of the videographer determine wedding video costs.
Just like housing and food, wedding videos are apt to cost much
more in City’s
such as London than they do in places like Thaxted
The length and nature of coverage plays
an important role in price: how
many cameras and camera operators will be at your wedding and reception,
how long will they stay and how much editing will be done.
The least expensive coverage usually
provides one camera and operator recording the Wedding and handing you the
tape at the end of the ceremony. More
expensive packages include two or more cameras and operators at the
wedding and reception, with editing, titles and music included. Videographers often use three or four cameras to cover a
wedding: two or more manned cameras, plus static or remotely controlled
cameras focused on the choir, lectern and congregation, and some may use
even more, depending on the circumstances.
The advantage of multiple cameras and editing is that the
videographer is able to combine footage from each camera into a single
visually interesting and exciting record of the service and reception.
Finally, wedding videographers in great
demand because of the quality of their work are able to charge higher
prices than those who aren’t. Expect
to pay more to get the very best.
Additional Video Coverage
Many wedding packages include features
well beyond the basic coverage of the wedding and reception. These may
include a limited number of still photos of your courtship -- the photo-montage
-- and the option to include photos and video footage from the honeymoon.
They may also include coverage of events prior to the wedding, such as the
rehearsal and rehearsal dinner and activities such as the bride and groom
dressing, and perhaps a wedding day brunch. Videographers may include some
of these services in their basic package, while others bill these
supplemental offerings by the hour, so be sure to ask.
Stories are almost always arranged for
separately. They can be as
simple or as elaborate as you wish, but expect them to be relatively
expensive, as they require a great deal of shooting and editing time. For many brides and grooms, the Love Story, which encapsulates the romance of the courtship, and
provides an opportunity for the couple to speak freely of their love for
each other, becomes perhaps even more important than the wedding video.
Finally, some videographers are offering
a wonderful new service, a first-year retrospective. Roughly a year after the wedding, the bride and groom, after
reviewing their wedding video, speaks on camera of their first year
together, and what married life has meant to them.
This is then edited and placed on the wedding videotape, a reminder
in later years of the start of a long life together.
to ask about:
buying the services of a wedding videographer it’s important to ask the
with whether or not the videographer will attend the rehearsal.
If your wedding is to be complicated or non–traditional, it’s
important that the videographer knows where everything will be taking
place, and who’s doing what. If you feel it’s important that the
videographer be at your rehearsal, insist on it.
If you feel strongly about it, and he refuses, find another
How will the videographer pick up what is being said by the bride,
groom, readers and musicians? Most
videographers use wireless microphones placed
on the groom. An increasing
number of videographers are making use of minidisk recorders placed on the
groom and at other appropriate locations.
the equipment, make certain that the videographer is using microphones
located very near where you and your fiancée will be standing: the nearer the better. No
video professional worth hiring will tell you that he relies on the camera
microphone alone to pick up the wedding ceremony.
Find out how many manned cameras will be used to record your
ceremony. A “manned
camera” may be a remotely controlled camera, as well as one
which an operator stands. The
corollary to a manned camera is a stationary camera, a camera set up on a
tripod, focused on a particular part of the venue, and left unattended.
The footage from a stationary camera may be excellent, but will
provide little variety since it can’t be repositioned during the
ceremony. Manned cameras make for rich visual imagery.
Does the videographer want to use
supplemental lighting during the wedding ceremony?
Documentary style videographers use ambient (available) light, while
some MTV style videographers
make use of lights to enhance the lighting in a dimly lit venue. Here you
have to decide whether you think bright studio-type lights, or lights on
the video cameras themselves, will spoil the mood of your ceremony. Many officiates will not allow supplemental lighting, so
check this out thoroughly. The
downside of ambient light is that the quality of the video may suffer a
bit: it may look grainy;
although today’s high-end cameras are pretty good at delivering good
video in low-light conditions.
videographers use supplemental lighting of some sort at the reception to
insure good coverage of the toasts, cake cutting and family dances.
Here again, discuss this thoroughly with the videographer, and be
comfortable with the answers you get before deciding to hire him.
How long will it take to get your finished
videotape back? During the
summer, 12-16 weeks is not unreasonable.
Each wedding takes the videographer 20-30 hours to edit, and it’s
in the editing that the video receives its final artistic form.
So don’t be too impatient. It’s
worth a reasonable wait to get a superb video.
remember: your videographer
can’t begin editing your wedding video until you have provided the still
photos, music, invitations and programs, and anything else you wish to
include as part of the finished tape.
Find out what the videographers will wear to work.
Videographers in tennis shoes and jeans can spoil everything you
have tried to achieve in setting the tone of your wedding. Attire is
negotiable; so don’t be afraid to discuss this.
Ask about the payment structure and whether there are any hidden
costs. How much is the
deposit? Under what
circumstances is it refundable? Is
it subtracted from the total cost of the wedding video?
Does it guarantee the date? When
is the balance due? Decide what you’re comfortable with. These
conditions may be negotiable. If
you’re not comfortable with the financial arrangements, find another
The contract is how you and your videographer communicate.
It’s where you come to agreement and record what will happen with
regard to your wedding video. Make sure that everything you want from the
videographer is written into the contract.
A little sheet of paper that says “I’ll shoot your wedding for
you – pay me £1000” isn’t doing much communicating.
nothing for granted. If there is anything you don’t understand, ask for
an explanation and, if necessary, ask to have that clarification written
into the final version of the contract. If there is something you and the videographer discuss, and
it’s important to you, have it included in the contract. Six months later, the day before your wedding, it will serve
to remind the videographer that getting pictures of your Aunt Frieda is a
contract should include a statement that after the contract is signed,
changes requested by either party must be in writing.
Verbal changes have a way of coming back to haunt you.
Looking at samples of the videographers work:
settle for a demonstration tape. What you will see are carefully selected examples, designed
to awe the viewer. Instead,
ask to see full-length wedding videos that were shot in venues similar to
your wedding site.
Audio: Listen to
the quality of the sound. Ask
where the microphone placement was? What you hear on the tape is probably
what you will get on your wedding video as well, unless there were
extenuating circumstances. Asking
how the audio for peripheral activity such as scripture readings and
musicians will be captured will assure that your videographer knows what
will be required at your wedding.
If you think you’re not knowledgeable enough to judge the quality of the
camera work, imagine that you were invited, but had to miss the wedding.
Your friend, the bride, sent you the wedding video that you are
watching. Now ask yourself
whether the video shows you everything that you would like to see, or
whether there is a great deal missing.
Is there variety among the shots, or are they all pretty much
alike? Good close-ups,
interesting compositions, good variety among the shots are the hallmarks
of a good videographer.
look at the camera work in the ceremony again.
If almost all of the ceremony was recorded from the back of the
venue, looking at the backs of the bride and groom, ask why.
Maybe the operator was refused cameras anywhere in the sanctuary:
it happens. But maybe
the videographer is satisfied with this kind of coverage, and what you see
here is what you can expect to get.
you’re fortunate enough to see a wedding shot in the venue where your
wedding will take place, you’ll see exactly what the problems were that
confronted the videographer. You’ll be able to discuss these with the
videographer and perhaps work to overcome them for your wedding video.
Look at how the video was edited.
Here you are considering both the artistry of the camera work and
of the editor. Is there a
logical structure to the work: does it tell the story you would want told?
Is there a nice mix of shots:
close-ups, medium shots that show the various members of the
wedding party, wide shots that show the wedding guests watching the
ceremony? How are shots
combined to create a rhythm in the video: does the camera stay on one shot
for minutes at a time, or are there cuts and dissolves from one angle to
another, keeping the view fresh and interesting?
Tact and discretion:
How has the videographer handled the “special moments” of the
unguarded comments picked up on the microphones, “smooching and
hugging” and other displays of affection?
If you’re embarrassed by this treatment, be careful.
You’ll probably get the same treatment in your wedding video.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, look at the visual quality of the
videos. Would you be satisfied if this was your wedding tape?
cameras were used, and whether the videographer shoots with S-VHS, Hi-8 or
digital equipment is not nearly as important as what the results look
like. The same is true with
editing equipment. How the
videographer got the finished product – whether it was linear or digital
equipment -- is of far less importance than what the finished product
all of this, you’re evaluating the videographers work against your
idea of what you want your wedding video to look like.
If you like what you see, you and the videographer are probably a
you need to do for your videographers:
informed videographer is a happy videographer.
Keep in touch with your videographer. Contracts for wedding professionals
are often entered into months before the wedding. Be sure you keep your
videographer advised of such things as the time set for the rehearsal,
additions to the wedding party list and special aspects of the ceremony
that you want covered.
hungry videographer is a grumpy videographer.
Make sure you and your videographers agree on eating arrangements.
Videographers usually work eight to ten hours on the day of a wedding.
They need to eat if they are to do their best work.
one videographer is to shoot your reception, try to arrange that he or she
eat in the same room as the guests, so that he can keep an eye on what is
going on and be ready to capture events on tape at a moment’s notice.
couples suggest that the videographers go through the buffet line.
However, for a sit-down dinner, where meal costs skyrocket, it’s
appropriate to provide sandwiches and coffee.
You may even decide that the videographers should provide their own
meal. In this case, make sure everyone understands where they are to eat,
since you probably don’t want a brown bag lunch and can of pop at one of
your guest tables.
it’s your wedding, and you’re paying for the videographer. Whatever you decide will be all right, so long as the
videographer knows in advance what to expect.
And finally, always remember:
the buyer and the videographer is the seller.
Have a good idea of the product you’re after, and see if the
videographer can provide it. You’re
looking for a customized service, and a unique product, your wedding
video. Your videographer is a
professional who wants nothing more than to make you happy through his or
her work. Arriving at an
understanding of your relative positions will assure a happy and rewarding
See here for a
personal view on not having a Videographer