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.