The 10 best tips for hiring a wedding videographer

Let’s face it, planning for a wedding is a strenuous process — mentally and physically.

Couples are often faced with finalizing plans from the days after an engagement to the hours leading up to the vows. There’s the location, officiant, decor, rehearsal dinner, music, bridal party, dress and tuxes, and that’s just before they start thinking about the vendors.

Often times couples begin that process with a venue, then trickle down to local catering, photographers, florists, bakers for the cake, perhaps custom decor services or a wedding planner, and the DJ or live band. One of the biggest mistakes couples make, and I know this from experience, is putting off finding a wedding videographer to the end of their search or not searching for one at all.

Percentages vary depending on the study, but many point out a bride’s biggest regret is not hiring a wedding videographer to capture their day. Sure, every guest will have a cell phone, and the majority will pull it out at some point during the day to snap a photo or two, maybe to record some video to share with you on Facebook, but they pale in comparison to a professionally shot and edited production by a wedding videographer.

Photos from your wedding day are a must — ours are hanging all over our house, are plastered all over our social media and have made their way into various wedding publications (thanks Wayne!) — but imagine being able to re-live those custom vows or toasts, watching your bride walk down the aisle as the camera cuts to you fighting back the happy tears, or smiling as you watch the reactions of friends and family celebrating your special day.

The point is, if you think you’re going to want a wedding videographer (and of course you will!) don’t put it off until the end of your planning. Prioritize finding a videographer that suits your needs.

There are dozens of variations to what wedding videographers provide, from their style to the products they offer, but there are a handful of tips to help navigate the waters and hire a wedding videographer that will create lasting memories and family heirlooms to be celebrated and enjoyed for years to come.

1. What style are you looking for?

Odds are you have seen friends’ wedding videos floating around Facebook. Did the style capture your attention? Did you enjoy the creative shots, or do you prefer a more simplistic approach? Was the editing smooth and did it go with the flow of the music?

There are truly dozens of styles that a wedding videographer can incorporate into their production, and many can guarantee multiple options to match the needs of the couple. But having an understanding of what style you would like your videographer to focus on should be at the forefront of the conversation.

2. What deliverables do they include?

You’re hiring a wedding videographer, they’re obviously going to give you video, right? Yes, but there’s more to it than that.

Videographers include a variety of different final videos in their packages, from teasers/trailers (like a movie trailer) to highlight films (like you’ve seen on Facebook) to documentary edits (incorporating interviews or audio from the bride, groom and guests). Highlight films are often the most popular, but some couples prefer longer edits with their vows, toasts, speeches and more.

Most videographers offer the full reception, speeches and toasts — either included in a package or as an add-on. Some will even sell the raw footage to couples, who may want to have fun sifting through the different shots throughout the day.

Decide what finished videos you know you want, keeping in mind you can often upgrade (with some notice to the videographers) after the fact.

3. Check multiple places for reviews.

Couples with great experiences are likely to leave great reviews so that future couples can enjoy similar experiences.

Places like Facebook, Google, The Knot and Wedding Wire, even videographer websites are great places to see how other couples felt about their videographer (or any vendor, really). Some videographers will even provide contact info for references to answer any questions that may not be found in the reviews.

4. Discuss your wedding in person/over the phone.

Good wedding videographers want to know every detail about your wedding day — the colors, the theme, live music or DJ, the size of the bridal party and who is in it, what special moments you may have planned (reading letters, first look, surprise entrance, etc.), the decor … the list goes on and on.

The best content creators like to start getting a vision before they ever step foot at the venue, allowing them to brainstorm various shots and locations well in advance.

It’s much more personable, for the videographer and the couple, to discuss all the details in person, or even over the phone using FaceTime or Skype. This allows both parties to get to know one another, see their personalities and answer all the questions they both inevitably have.

I prefer buying couples a cup of coffee or even a beer at a local brewery to hear about their wedding before I even discuss how I can help capture the day.

5. What are the prices for packages and add-ons?

Every couple has a budget and every couple does their best to stick to it. The wedding videographer’s pricing is obviously an important factor, but make sure to ask what you get for those prices.

The more hours a videographer spends at your wedding, the higher the price will be. But odds are the finished product will also be of higher value because there is more footage to use. In similar fashion, the longer the final video they create, the higher the price will be.

Like anything, a couple will pay for the quality of product they receive and the amount of work it took to create said product. Videography packages typically give you a better deal than going a la carte, but make sure to find out what add-ons like extra USB drives, raw footage or even additional hours of coverage will cost.

6. Get the most out of your contract.

Almost every wedding vendor will create a legally-binding contract to make sure the couple and vendor are in agreement of the expectations. Make sure the wedding videographer’s contract includes the key items mentioned above — the chosen package, price, what the down payment is and when it’s due, when the rest of the payment will be due, and especially what cancellation policies are in place.

7. Are same-day edits and drone footage offered? What kind of music will be used?

I’m combining these three to play off the add-ons mentioned in No. 5 above. Drone footage adds instant production value to any video, but especially a wedding video. Seeing the guests arrive at the venue from hundreds of feet in the air, watching the sunrise from a bird’s vantage point, or capturing the beautiful landscape and setting of your wedding via drone make your video stand out.

Keep in mind, there are FAA regulations that licensed drone pilots must be aware of, meaning some venues may not allow drones to be flown. I like to have this discussion early on in the process so couples understand if they cannot have drone footage because of these FAA restrictions.

Copyright laws prohibit a videographer from using any old song of their choosing, at least without paying for the licensing, which can be thousands of dollars for the pop culture songs you hear on the radio. There are many great licensed music websites that videographers subscribe to, allowing them multiple options for the music that helps display the emotion in your wedding video. If you have a preference to the type of music your videographer uses, let them know ahead of time, but also trust them to pick something that will set your wedding film apart from all the others.

Same-day edits are an instant crowd pleaser at the reception. Basically, a videographer will capture footage throughout the day, then pull up a chair in front of a laptop and piece together a highlights video that can be played for the couple and guests at the reception.

It’s no easy task — shooting the video, importing the footage, editing it in a beautiful manner and meeting a tight deadline can be daunting — but videographers that provide this add-on can leave you and your guests in awe.

8. What is the turn-around time for the video(s) to be finished?

While many of the vendors are finished after the wedding day, the work is just beginning for the photographer and videographer!

Capturing the photos and footage is only the beginning, as they prepare to sit in front of the computer for the editing stage of the process. For a wedding videographer, this is often the most time-consuming, yet creative portion of the journey.

Think about it — if a videographer spends 10 hours at your wedding, with multiple cameras recording throughout the day, there are literally hours of clips to look through to find the pieces that best fit your final product.

Completing the edit(s) will obviously take some time, but make sure you know what the videographer’s turn-around time is. This actually varies quite a bit, with some companies taking weeks, months or even a year to complete their edits. Just make sure this is included in the contract.

9. Trust your videographer.

You’ve researched them, met them in person, discussed your wedding details and their vision for capturing it, now it’s time to let them do their work. If you have done all your homework and found a wedding videographer that suits your needs, one who outlined everything in meetings and in your contract, then trust them to handle the wedding day.

The best videographers will have discussed the itinerary for your wedding day, hopefully even setting time aside to get some extra footage, so they know when to be where throughout the day. They will be getting all of the best shots and moments from the big day.

10. Reviews and referrals.

Take the time after your wedding is complete and you have received your video(s) to review the wedding videographer and offer referrals to future couples. This step was likely a key factor in your decision to hire the videographer, so your review and referral will help brides and grooms down the road make the same decisions.

It only takes 5-10 minutes to write a quick review in places like The Knot and Wedding Wire, Facebook or their Google Business. Sharing your video(s) on Facebook with some great words about all of the vendors is also a great way for them to be recognized for the hard work they put in to make your wedding day wonderful.

Capital City Bridal Expo — A bride’s best friend

Over the weekend, we had the opportunity to join dozens of other wedding professionals for the Capital City Bridal Expo 2019. Held at the Helena Civic Center, the expo welcomed brides and grooms, as well as family and friends, from all across Montana, giving them a firsthand look at how everything from wedding planning to venues, photographers and videographers to caterers, to DJs, florists, salons, lodging, bakeries and bridal shops help play a part in making their wedding day complete.

I served as the emcee, while Fallon held the fort down at our videography booth. Hundreds attended the event, watching as models displayed the latest wedding fashions courtesy of Linda’s Bridal.

I was also able to capture some video from the event, as seen above, to show how great each vendor was at meeting the needs of the brides and grooms in attendance.

To check out the Capital City Bridal Expo website, please click here. There you’ll find the vendors that were in attendance!

Glacier National Park — Iceberg Lake (Sony A6300 + 18-105mm f/4)

“Wander here a whole summer, if you can.”

If only, John Muir. If only.

Muir, known as the “Father of the National Parks,” knew there was something special about the pristine forest and majestic mountains that made up what is now Glacier National Park, the Crown of the Continent. Its beauty is unmatched, its scenery incomparable and its exploration opportunities immeasurable.

A recent late August adventure took us to Many Glacier, our destination the Iceberg Lake/Ptarmigan Tunnel trailhead. Impressive views of the grand mountains greet the beginning of the hike, though these views frequently disappear as one enters the dense forest of pines, which also happen to obstruct the Ptarmigan Falls.

Though rated in the upper echelon of difficulty by many, the Iceberg Lake portion of the hike is relatively straightforward, though a few steeper sections exist. The risk is worth the reward, though, when one turns the corner to the final stretch of trail above Iceberg Lake. Picture-takers, picnic-goers and even a few brave (foolhardy?) swimmers are the sights to be seen atop this trail.

Dare I say, it seems the perfect place for an adventurous wedding? Pack the dress, tuxes and formal wear — we’ll all change at the top.

For those interested in the videography and equipment, only five pieces of gear made the hike: a Sony A6300 mirrorless camera, rocking a Sony 18-105mm f/4 power zoom lens with a Tiffen variable ND filter. Atop the camera sat a Rode Videomic microphone, while the camera was perched on a Joby Gorillapod 3K.

It seemed the perfect hiking companion, particularly on a near-10-mile adventure — lightweight, durable and more than capable of the job. I did bring a gimbal — the Zhiyun-Tech Crane-2 — but ultimately decided the extra weight wasn’t worth the effort, though it certainly would have brought a stabilization unparalleled to my handheld rig.

Alissa and Paul — summertime love

“If a June night could talk, it would probably boast it invented romance.”

There’s no denying June 29, 2019 wouldn’t be bragging about love. This magical day saw Alissa and Paul stand in front of their closest family members, showcasing their tenderness and devotion to one another.

There is something special about an intimate setting reserved for family only, those closest relatives that know you better than anyone. That was the guest list for Alissa and Paul on her family farm. Lush wheat fields waved as the backdrop, dancing in the sun. The custom altar, drifting dust on the nearby gravel road, everything combined for perfection — a story of summertime love.

When the intimate, family wedding concluded, it became a community celebration and party, hundreds gathering to congratulate the bride and groom.

Ok June, brag away.

Felicity and Ibrahim — a love story

What do arching bridges, cedar gazebos, charming ponds, romantic row boat and a luxurious fountain have in common? They’re all part of the beauty that is Cedar Springs in Port Orchard, Washington. That’s where we find the latest chapter in the romance novel of Felicity and Ibrahim.

Acquaintances during school, where Ibrahim was a foreign-exchange student, their love story began years later when Ibrahim returned to Washington. Literally the girl he dreamt about, Felicity quickly captured Ibrahim’s attention and affection, and their love for Christ brought them together.

Call it divine intervention, an act of God, or simply a true love story, Felicity and Ibrahim were meant for one another.

This is their love story.

Jackie and Ken — finding love

Life’s full of twists and turns, but sometimes those roads lead right to the unexpected. That was certainly the case for Jackie and Ken.

Their journeys led them to one another’s arms, bringing family and friends to a beautiful location in Florida’s Flagler County: Princess Place Preserve. Lined with rows of palm trees and aged oaks, this southern landmark was indeed fit for a princess. As the sun poked through the vines of the oak, Jackie and Ken shared their love, said their vows and embarked down a new road full of happiness and devotion.

Katlyn and Jade — autumn affection

Few things are more intimate than a wedding by the family farm/ranch.

That’s where Katlyn and Jade held their nuptials in the fall. In front of family and friends in the Bears Paw Mountains, the Nystroms began their new life together.

From the cowboy hats and boots to the rustic altar and perfect colors of the setting sun, this fall wedding was perfection.

"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson was clearly onto something.

The great poet and philosopher knew accomplishments were rarely possible without a strong enjoyment and dedication to achieving those accomplishments.

With that in mind, I’m excited, filled with enthusiasm, you might say, to introduce Richie Melby Media.

What is Richie Melby Media? It stems from an idea of putting creative talents to work in different ways, allowing creative freedoms and endless possibilities. It expands imagination, forces ingenuity and establishes inspiration.

For more than a decade I have spent my work days with a camera on my shoulder, telling stories through video and interviews. Thanks to the teachings and suggestions of numerous colleagues, which still continues to this day, I have opened my creativity in sharing these stories.

Richie Melby Media allows me to expand that, focusing primarily on weddings, though other projects will also arise. What story allows more creativity, imagination and emotion than the most special day of a couple’s life than their wedding? The options are infinite, the opportunities limitless and the sky is truly the limit.

Armed with fancy Sony cameras capable of 4K video, cinematic footage and fantastic visuals, professional audio equipment and toys like drones, GoPros and more, Richie Melby Media will set out to capture the most important moments of the wedding day to create video memories that will last a lifetime.

For information about availability, pricing and package options, please feel free to reach out! There’s a contact form on the home page of www.richiemelby.com, an email can be sent to richiemelbymedia@gmail.com, plus we’re just a phone call away at (406) 750-6257.

I also encourage you to follow along via social media at the following links for Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. There you’ll be able to see some of our latest samples and teasers, as well as keeping up on the blog. Please “like” the Facebook page, “follow” us on Instagram and “subscribe” to our YouTube channel.

The adventure is already underway and we’re ready to achieve cinematic greatness. You pick the date, we’ll bring the enthusiasm!