On Wedding Videos

Weddings are a challenge for most videographers. We have to capture one of the most important events of a lifetime, and make it look good.

A bride in her wedding dress kisses her groom in his white tuxedo.  They are in a lush, green garden, with rays of sunshine beaming through the trees.
Bride and Groom share a kiss in the sunlit garden

As a client, you don’t need to worry about the details of making a good video. It is your job to pick the right videographer or production company, include them in your wedding planning, communicate your vision and expectations, and pay the bills.

As the video producer, getting hired is just the beginning. You have a lot of homework to do.

A good wedding video includes bridal party preparations, the ceremony itself, and the reception. It’s also a great idea to shoot some pre-staged B-roll and cinematic vignettes of the bride and groom. These can all take place at one venue, or many venues.

For example, preparations can be done in a home or hotel room, the ceremony can be at a church, the reception at a banquet hall, and cinematic vignettes shot in a garden or on the beach.

A few highlights from wedding videos we produced.

Each location poses a different set of challenges. Lighting can range from indoor, dim bulbs to overblown, outdoor sunshine. Adverse weather conditions often come into play. You have to deal with invited guests, onlookers, and random strangers. Often the venue itself will impose restrictions on where and how you can video.

The church of the Immaculata at the University of San Diego campus has a prepared document of requirements that all video and photo professionals must adhere to. This limits where are you can shoot, what you can shoot, when you can shoot, and how you can shoot.

A priest in a white robe performs the wedding rites in the Church of the Immaculata
A priest performs wedding rites at the Church of the Immaculata on the University of San Diego campus.

Many venues have similar documents available upon request. Always do your research and contact the venue instead of relying on the wedding planner or the bride and groom who have other things to do. It’s good idea to save these documents and prepare your own library which is easily accessible when you shoot at venues you you’ve worked before.

Being prepared for the wide range of shooting conditions is common to every professional videographer. This should be expected by default. In addition, we also must isolate the restrictions of each venue in order to properly plan the most beautiful shots.

It's her time to shine!
The bride in front of the Church of the Immaculata

One of many things that set professionals apart from amateurs in the video world is audio. Novices tend to think that crisp, clean audio will be recorded of whatever subject you point the camera at. The only thing I use onboard camera microphones for is synchronization between video clips and the primary audio recorded on dedicated devices.

I’m also not a fan of using wireless transmitters and receivers, because it adds bulk to the camera and hampers free movement for our run and gun needs. In addition, wireless interference is increasingly common with the large number of wireless devices that exist. There’s no need to risk it because there are dedicated audio recorders that are less bulky than transmitters. Why bulk up your subject with a transmitter, and bulk up your camera with the receiver, when you can record all audio cleanly, at the source, on a small, dedicated device?

In addition to using a dedicated recorder, many venues have a PA system plugged into a mixer and use microphones for the most important parts of the wedding. If this is the case you can ask for a feed directly from the mixer into your recording device. This is great because you also capture good quality audio of any music, whether it’s live performance or a playback.

If there is a dedicated photographer in addition to you the videographer, you’ll need to cooperate with one another so you don’t mess up each others shots. The photographer and videographer should get in touch early on. People will also be taking photos and videos on their cell phones. I’ve done weddings where the guests were specifically asked not to do this, but in my opinion it’s unavoidable and there will always be people trying to get a shot on their cell phone. I say don’t get annoyed, roll with it, and let people have fun. Often times, I will incorporate this into my own shots.

A wedding guest in a blue dress snaps a selfie with the bride in her white wedding dress.
A wedding guest snaps a pic with the bride.
My brain hurts just thinking about it.
Inception! A photo of someone taking a photo with the photographer taking the photo in the shot.

If there is a wedding planner it’s a great idea to get in touch right away as they can often help me determine the best shots, schedule some dedicated video time with the bridal party, and just get to know me. The friendlier I am with everybody, the easier my work will go.

Congratulations on your wedding, and best of success with your wedding video!