Wedding Videography Tips – A Q&A With Wedding Videographers

Wedding Videography Tips – A Q&A With Wedding Videographers

Written by Katrina Otter
Florists, tick… Caterers, tick… Photographers, tick… and Wedding Planners, tick!

It really has been a jam-packed Q&A series so far, and now that you’re armed with an abundance of floral, foodie, photography and planning advice, it’s time for the videographers/filmmakers to shine and impart a wealth of information and essential videography tips.

So, if you’re considering hiring a videographer (which I’d wholeheartedly recommend… I absolutely adore my own wedding film – it is one of THE best planning decisions I made) then read on because today’s feature is for you!

First and foremost, let me introduce you to our panel of videographer pros…

  • Wagtail Productions – The epitome of personal, crafted, natural, cliché free, modern, stylish, and authentic. Wagtail also offer a range of styles, from super 8mm to classic cinema to stop motion animation… so they really can tailor their services to suit.
  • Reellovefilms – Timeless, elegant, natural films curated to tell the most beautiful and everlasting of stories (which Frances did so perfectly for my own wedding).
  • HD Moments – Without a shadow of a doubt the definition of breathtakingly spectacular, awe-inspiring cinematic perfection.
  • Baxter and Ted – A boutique filmmaking company who produce the most beautiful, modern, and enchanting of films for weddings, love stories, people and places.  Emma and I have had the pleasure of working alongside Chris & Caroline at Holywell Hall (with our Coco & Kat hat on) and it’s safe to say that the moment their editorial film landed in out inboxes we happy blubbed… a lot! You can see why for yourself HERE.

So, there we have it, our panel of experts and now moving on to those all-important/essential videography questions:

The Videography Q & A

At what stage of the planning process should you book your wedding videographer?

Reellovefilms say: We’d recommend booking a videographer around the same time as your photographer, and ideally both as soon as you have your venue and date confirmed, and your budget sorted and allocated. Videography is becoming increasingly popular and couples book key Saturday dates quite early (at least a year in advance), so it’s best to get an idea of availability as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Top tips on choosing a videographer, including questions to ask:

Baxter and Ted say: The wedding industry is blessed with many talented, incredible filmmakers, all with their own signature style… from classical and elegant, to beautifully cinematic, dramatic and moody, to alternative and edgy. Most filmmakers shoot on high definition and some (like us) also incorporate Super 8 film. So, first and foremost find a filmmaker whose style you fall in love with and whose films give you total and utter goose bumps! If you find yourself completely immersed and enthralled with a filmmaker’s website (watching ALL their films), then you’ve probably found the one! It’s also just as important to find a filmmaker who really captures those genuine emotions – from the tiny fleeting moments to the bigger more obvious ones, the tears, the love, the laughter, the total joy, the celebrations and the very essence of the party… all wrapped up in a style that you adore!

Connection is key, so when you’re looking for a filmmaker make sure you connect on a personal  level too… do they make you feel comfortable and completely at ease, do you instantly click and trust them, do they have the experience to take everything in their stride (we’ve seen it all and not much will phase us!). Couples often say that they feel anxious about being filmed or having their photographs taken and by establishing that connection it means you’ll feel totally relaxed on the day and will know with absolute certainty that your filmmaker will fit seamlessly into your wedding. From your filmmakers perspective this connection also ensures that they understand you, your vision and the vibe of your wedding so that they can in turn reflect your personalities, your story and create a film that’s undeniably “you”.

You’ll probably have watched plenty of short highlight trailer films but when you’re speaking to potential filmmakers, ask to view some full-length films too, so that you can see how they capture a wedding from start to finish.

It’s also important to think about audio – some filmmakers edit their films purely to music and some weave audio from the ceremony and/or speeches into the narrative of the story and film. What do you prefer, what can they offer?

If you’ve already booked a photographer, a great starting point is to ask them for recommendations for filmmakers they love to work alongside (and vice versa) – they’ll be able to recommend people whose work, style and creativity complement their own.

And finally, chat to your filmmaker to find out how they work on a wedding day – everyone has a different approach and again, you want to ensure that you’re the perfect fit for each other.

HD Moments say: By far the most important thing is to have a connection with the films that you see on a videographer’s website – perhaps you’re moved by the vows, enchanted by the locations or enthralled by the cinematography. You need to feel that special something, more than just comparing prices and opting for the cheapest person.

In terms of questions to ask then in addition to availability, pricing, style and what’s included, you should also ask the following:

  • How long do you have to wait for the finished film?
  • How many videographers will be there on the day?
  • Will you meet and/or get to know each other beforehand?
  • Do you have a say in the music/song choice(s)?
  • How is the day filmed and then delivered?
  • Is drone footage included/an option (especially if aerial shots are important to you)?

Videography budgets – how much?

Reellovefilms say: This is such a hard question! It’s a bit like how long is a piece of string… and there really is someone out there to suit all budgets.  There are so many variables that affect the price you’ve been quoted, and it depends on the style of video you want, the length of coverage, the final products you want to receive as well as the location and type of wedding you’re having.  Quotes can honestly range over several thousand pounds depending on the coverage you’d like.

Personally, I’d say focus on the style of film you like first, find the companies whose work and style you adore, and then start collecting details and further information. Also remember… if it sounds cheap there could be a reason! Experience is worth its weight in gold, your wedding is a one-off event and there’s no room for gambling on coverage! 

Baxter and Ted say: Like photographers, filmmakers vary hugely in price depending on their skill, experience, and expertise, plus whether they shoot on digital or film formats. As a general rule, we’d suggest that your film budget should be similar to your photography budget (if not higher). Bear in mind, there’s an enormous amount of work, time and skill involved in the editing process and post-production for filmmakers… it’s not just the day itself that you’re paying for.

As clichéd as it sounds, your film will be one of your lasting and most treasured of memories, alongside your photographs.  So, we’d recommend you to really invest (within your budget) in your filmmaker and photographer. Film is such an emotive medium – the combination of moving pictures with music (and audio) is incredibly powerful and without a shadow of a doubt, it will transport you right back to your wedding day, capturing all those feelings and emotions, alongside the moments and reactions that you just won’t have been aware of on the day!

It’s hard for us to put into words just how important films become to our couples (and their everlasting value), so instead, here is a gorgeous recent email from a past couple that truly sums this up:

“Dear Caroline and Chris. On the eve of our wedding date two years ago, J and I are together re-watching the beautiful Baxter + Ted videos of our amazing weekend and are overcome with emotion, as we always are when we see the videos.  We are in utter agreement that engaging the two of you to film our wedding weekend was the best decision we made for our wedding, second only to getting married! We just wanted to send another note of thanks, two years later, for your talent, generosity, and all that you did to capture that weekend for us with skill, grace and love.  We thank you for all of it.  Love, D and J.”

Things to communicate with your wedding videographer and by when

 Reellovefilms say: Most videographers will send out a form or questionnaire to fill in either upon booking (or even beforehand (to help create a tailored quote)) whilst others will send this out in the final few weeks/months – it’s really helpful to give as much information as possible (names, timings, locations, suppliers, details that are important to you etc.) to allow them to plan and get an idea of how the day will run. If you have any surprises happening let them know. And if your plans and timings change, keep them informed!

5 top videography tips

Wagtail Productions say: 

Make way – I know that part of my job as a videographer is to capture things as they naturally happen and adapt to all of the different settings I find myself filming in. That can be busy bridal prep rooms, with shoes everywhere and bridesmaids in front of every mirror, or in the middle of the dance floor during Israeli dancing, trying not to get elbowed in the face but move with the ‘mosh pit’ to capture the energy. Only 3 days ago a client said to me of their Chinese-English wedding at Aynhoe Park, and I quote “we didn’t even recall you being in the room so you must have blended in excellently like a chameleon.”  This is great to hear and it’s always my aim.

But, it’s something we videographers need a little help with! We need couples to make space for us. Unlike photographers, we can’t just step in for one or two clicks. We need to base ourselves somewhere and get a steady shot. What I’m saying feels controversial, because it’s rarely considered but it’s definitely in the couple’s interest.

Being unobtrusive, especially during the ceremony, is so important but we can only work within the limitations of the space. I like to shoot quite far back if the space allows but I understand that some of the dreamiest ceremony rooms may be fairly intimate, like the narrow-curved Orangery at Sezincote. However, there is always a way with a little foresight. We videographers want nothing more than to make our couple’s video dreams come true but I know that if I cannot place myself behind and to the side of the officiant for example, it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to get the couple’s faces completely. Sometimes there’s a simple solution, like moving a flower arrangement a foot, without detracting from the carefully styled space. I personally would never move something like this myself on the day, so discussing it beforehand can give you an aesthetically perfect set up, with unobtrusive videographers and a wedding video that captures it all.

Meaning and context – Help your videographer understand the meaning and context behind your decisions that you have taken so much time over. For example, if you met playing together in an orchestra, your videographer can connect that history with the imagery on the day. That history is most probably going to be referenced in the speeches and can work well when edited with relevant imagery, strengthening the story and flow of your film.  However, the speeches are usually late in the day and it can therefore help your videographer to know beforehand, that for example, the quartet playing during the drinks reception isn’t only lovely background music, but in fact consists of musicians from that very orchestra in which you met. That information can change how your videographer chooses to film not only that element but the entire day. Are they background or are they key characters in your story. It’s these details that can craft your film into something that feels intentional and almost as though it’s being shot through your eyes, not an outsider’s.

Don’t be afraid of commitment – I’ve worked with lots of couples who do not normally like to be the centre of attention. However, as in any love story or movie, you always want to see your main characters connect. Committing to your videographer’s direction will give it an edge, resulting in your film being less behind the scenes event coverage and more a movie you can re-watch for years to come. In the edit, I really want to be able to cut to beautiful shots of my couple together, as moving words from the speeches are played, rather than cutting to Auntie Susan. The good news is, because I have couples that value their time with their guests so much, I’m also practised at making the couple session fairly quick but I must stress this really depends on how much the couple lean into it. By this I mean, it can take 45 minutes to get 5 natural shots of a couple engaging with each other if there is resistance, or it can take just 25 minutes to get 8 beautiful shots if they are present and literally and metaphorically leaning into it.

If this idea makes you cringe now, I understand. Until you have that trust with your videographer it may seem worrisome. Watch your videographer’s films and if the couple shots are used appropriately, you shouldn’t be cringing when you watch them. Each couple interacts differently so you don’t have to mimic what you see in other videos. Also don’t worry about monitoring yourself because half of good editing is what a videographer chooses to leave out, as well as what they include, so if there is a really cheesy moment that manages to manifest itself, however nice I think my camera work is, it’s not going in.

No secrets – This leads on from my previous point about your videographer being able to shoot with intent, with a little prior knowledge. Whilst your videographer will be the master of jumping into action to capture things as they happen, a heads up can really help you take home a quality film. If someone is going to do a speech that is not on the schedule, a few minutes warning will mean your videographer can place a tiny microphone on the speaker’s top pocket for the best quality sound and take care in framing the shot, ensuring a foliage display is in the background vs. a DJ who’s setting up.

Lighting – There’s a reason lighting is its own department in the film industry. It’s so important to film making, yet it’s something the cinematographer isn’t in control of on a wedding day.  Your videographer needs you to factor this into your plans. Not only will this consideration make you look amazing in your video, it will also be key in creating the right mood for you and your guests.

Natural daylight is the most flattering and that is why I love outdoor ceremonies. For the evening, you can never have too much candlelight, which can be topped up with ‘warm’ string lights, creating beautiful out of focus twinkles in the background (known as bokeh). On the other hand, ‘white’ string lights are not ideal as they’ll look blue in contrast to the candlelight.

Uplighters can give a nice effect on the walls and are very popular permanent venue fixtures but they are not a substitute for the general lighting of the scene itself, as the light is extremely bright just on the walls, leaving the middle of the room rather flat. Low lit venues are not a problem for me as I use Sony cameras which are the best in their field for low light situations. However, they cannot change direction of light or unflattering patterns made on faces from harsh uplighters.

I filmed a winter wedding which did not have any natural light by the time the ceremony started at 4pm. Unfortunately, for this particular wedding the up-lighters at the base of the chuppah gave a rather spooky effect on the couple’s faces, reminiscent of the camping-torch-under-the-chin childhood gag.

Baxter and Ted say:

More and more couples are embracing their individuality, focusing less on the old, expected traditions, and creating a celebration that truly embodies them as a couple, their personal story and journey, their beliefs and originality. Something we absolutely love to see and something we LOVE to film even more – if you can then embrace this too!

Once you’ve booked a filmmaker you love, then relax and trust their experience, their skill and their creativity. Don’t try to recreate something you’ve seen in another film or at another wedding. Every wedding and every couple is unique, so trust your filmmaker to capture the essence of your wedding in a way that truly reflects and encapsulates you. They’ll be there to find the best light, to notice and capture those subtle gentle moments and reactions, the great big important bits, all the emotions and everything in between… leaving you to relax and enjoy every single moment of the celebrations, without worrying about your film.

Your filmmaker will have plenty of experience with wedding timelines – for example, when to make the most of beautiful natural light throughout the day or when to put on your wedding dress so it’s not all a mad, last minute dash to the ceremony! So, pick their brains and they’ll be more than happy to offer suggestions and guidance on timings to help things run as smoothly as possible.

Your wedding day will whizz by in a complete blur of happiness and emotion and it can be a little overwhelming at times too. We always encourage our couples to take some time together, find a quiet spot or moment where it’s just the two of you, to step back from the wedding, be present together and let it all sink in. You can also weave this into your couple portraits with your filmmaker and photographer too.

If you’re planning a surprise element on your wedding day (such as a gift exchange, impromptu speech or even a musical (as per Megan & Jamie’s wedding at Holywell Hall)), don’t forget to tell your filmmaker in advance!

Videography trend predictions

Reellovefilms say: I definitely think there will be a movement away from highly produced, edited, quirky and staged, to films that are personal, natural, and true reflections of the emotions and happiness of the day. 

Wagtail Productions say: What I cherish most about my old family videos is being able to hear my Grandad’s voice and see his mannerisms. I know that a wedding is very much about the marriage, but I think COVID-19 has reminded us how much we value being together, with film capturing and celebrating the moments between family and friends. I therefore think we are going to see a refocus on guests and their involvement in the day and living those moments rather than opting for a gimmicky super-fast cut video. It will be more about the words being said, the little looks and gestures, and the importance that film plays in capturing all of this.

And there we have it… another guide in the Q&A series done.

And if you’re in the process of looking for a videographer/filmmaker, then I’d recommend checking out Wagtail Productions, Reellovefilms, HD Moments and Baxter and Ted in a heartbeat.

Credits

Film 1, 5 and 9 by Wagtail Productions

Film 2 and 6 by Reellovefilms

Film 3 and 7 by HD Moments

Film 4 and 8 by Baxter and Ted

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