As professional videographers for over the last 30 years, we have been asked to fix do-it-yourself wedding video disasters. Couples wanting to save money by hiring a discount wedding videographer or relying on well-intentioned relatives with a new video camera end up with a disappointing record of one of the most important days of their lives. Saving on the cost of a wedding video ends up costing much more in the long run.
The unfortunate thing about these situations is that they could have easily been avoided. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using a cheap wedding videographer, friends or relatives. These situations turn into disasters as the result of the most common error that kills a wedding video: lack of communication.
Shooting an important event, such as a wedding, where you only get one chance to get it the way you want it, means that good communication must be maintained between all the key participants in the wedding. If this fails to happen, your wedding video doesn’t stand a chance.
It all begins with the bride and groom. The bridal couple must talk about, decide and write down exactly what they want captured (videotaped) the day of the wedding – regardless of what anyone else thinks. For example, if the bridal couple feels its important to capture footage of the wedding day breakfast, or visiting Grandma in the nursing home on the way to the reception, etc., then they must communicate their wishes to the videographer. If you don’t shoot it you won’t have it.
The next key player is the videographer. His communication responsiblities are a little more extensive. In addition to communicating clearly with the bridal couple in order to verify that he clearly understands their wishes, he should also obtain the following information:
1. The exact start time of the wedding. We’ve seen wedding videos missing the bride’s walk down the aisle because the videographer showed up late.
2. The expected duration of the wedding ceremony. Ask the couple how long they expect the wedding to be, then purchase enough videotape to cover twice that length of time.
If the bride tells you she expects the wedding to last one hour (60 minutes) then purchase enough tape to cover two hours (120 minutes) for each camera. This ensures that you will have enough tape for the wedding and the reception. It better to have too much videotape than not enough.
In addition to communicating with the bridal couple the videographer should also have a conversation with another key player:the minister or person officiating the wedding. Communicating with the minister means getting his/her approval for camera positions in the chapel (so as not to interfere with the ceremony) and wearing a microphone. The videographer can also request a two-minute “start” cue from the minister so as to know when to roll tape. This conversation should take place at the wedding rehearsal.
Other key players include additional videographers. If the wedding video is being captured by more than one camera, the videographer in charge needs to clearly communicate with the other videographers exactly what is expected of them. This includes being on time, when to roll tape, and their individual shooting responsiblities.
Anyone can use a video camera. It takes something special to create a professional-looking wedding video. You only get one wedding day, but with a professionally-produced wedding video you can experience the joy, laughter, tears and love over and over again. It begins and ends with good communication.