You’re already sold on the advantages of a professional wedding video. Not only will you get to see the moments you missed or that passed by in a blur (relatives meeting, your vows), you’ll have priceless footage of happy loved ones and a reminder of your great romance, says wedding expert Sharon Naylor, author of “1001 Ways to Save Money and Still Have a Dazzling Wedding” (McGraw-Hill, 2008).
That said, not all wedding flicks are created equal. From a straightforward, journalistic high-definition recording of the day’s key events to an artsy cinematic video, nostalgic Super 8 film or cool music video-style compilation complete with a soundtrack and effects, there’s a marital movie for every taste.
If you’re unsure of what fits you, Naylor says to err on the side of a more traditional documentary-style version.
“We live in a world where technology and effects are outdated in a few weeks, much less 25 years,” she says. “Don’t fall under the spell of ‘I want worldwide attention for my viral YouTube video’ at the expense of capturing the true relationships you have and the feel of your day.”
It’s also smart to base your choice on the length of your end product, says Dom Guntavong, owner of Bay Area VDO Production in San Francisco. Because post-production is the most time-consuming portion of a videographer’s job, some now hand over a 15- to 20-minute highlight reel, plus the raw footage of the whole day.
“I can’t tell you how many times we’ve received emails from couples whose weddings we didn’t shoot but they’re asking us to re-edit their wedding video to full length,” Guntavong says. “They realized that there are so many important moments that were missed or got cut off, such as reactions to the toasts.”
Typically these requests can’t be accommodated, he adds, as the videographer didn’t shoot the varied material required for a longer edited version.
Begin the vetting process by asking friends and other vendors, especially your wedding planner, for referrals, says Naylor.
“Your coordinator knows who’s a pro and will steer you away from hobbyists who charge half the price but disappoint,” she says. Independent review sites also may be helpful, but be sure to read the specifics of any complaints as they may not apply to you.
To narrow your search further, Guntavong advises looking at a candidate’s website to get a feel for their style and experience – a lengthier career means they’ve been successful working with couples and alongside photographers and other vendors. When you meet, ask about pricing, how many cameras will be in action, audio and music, what you get and when you’ll get it, and, if desired, whether they offer same-day edits, a very short highlight video edited on site that you can play at your actual wedding.
You should be specific about your desires/expectations and not assume anything, Guntavong says – just because a sample video contains all the elements you’d like doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily be in yours. He also recommends thinking twice if a videographer refuses your shot list or other requests.
“There’s no point hiring someone who takes beautiful shots if none of them are what you wanted.”