Bear Hands Media
Rookie Bride Move - Get the most out of your Wedding Videography investment
Years ago the crew and I kept saying we would release a YouTube series called Rookie Bride Move (shout out Katie) - a cute little humorous take on the dos and don'ts and how to make the most of your wedding videography investment. We never got around to making it a vlog like we intended, but I’m going to detail a few tips and tricks here, you know, for funsies, and hopefully it’s helpful info for future Brides to be.
Before I kick this off, I know we have a lot of brides, grooms and industry leaders that may want to contribute their nuggets of advice. Feel free to add your experiences in the comments, or email me email@example.com and I’d be happy to add your thoughts with credit directly to this article.
Ok let’s do this thing!
1. Planners are Imperative
Here's the deal. Your wedding day needs to run like a Super Bowl winning football team - for that, you need a coach to put the right team in place. A good planner will choose vendors that look out for each other. A video team that cares just as much about the photography team getting their perfect shots. A band that cares about setting the right tone for the party guests which helps the video team get what they need etc. Point is, each vendor on the team works with the mindset that they win when every other vendor on the team does too. If a photography team uses those red focus finder lights, you have red lights on your white dress in your video. If a videographer wears loud colors or obnoxiously huge gear and jumps in the way of a photographer all day, all of your otherwise beautiful photos have videographers and gear in them. Either that or the photog has to spend an insane amount of post production work to edit them out in photoshop leaving them less time to work on perfecting more photos; causing another vendor to have to perform risky photoshop surgery on the back end is not an example of being a good teammate. For the sake of keeping this short, I won’t give a thousand more examples of why the vendor crews all need to work together like a championship team to make sure everyone delivers exactly what the owners of the team (the wedding couple) expect. A planner knows how to put that team together, among other necessities you may not have considered if you produce your own event without the help of a planner. There are many different planners to choose from, all unique in their own way. If you have a question about which planner you should choose, shoot me an email. I’m happy to chat a bit and point you in the right direction.
2. Wedding Videography Prices are a Wide Range
This is a touchy subject because prices will range greatly for what might feel like the same thing but all videography crews are not created equal and they all prioritize different aspects of the trade. Reliability, Professionalism, Level of Experience, Gear, Editing Skills, etc. If a videography crew is 4 times more expensive than the other, there’s a reason for that. I actually can’t think of an example of one Houston based video crew that overcharges for what they deliver. It’s rare. This truly is an industry where you can count on getting what you pay for. You have to determine what your priorities are and match with that crew you book. A planner will help you with a few options and you can choose the one you like (because a good planner has already vetted the vendors) but if you’re going at this alone without planner help, here are a few good thoughts to consider with each company you research.
Does the company utilize their own full time staff as lead shooters or are they rotating a pool of contractors. It’s not a bad thing if they rotate contractors but there is a dependability risk involved. The shots are typically inconsistent with this setup because it's likely a different shooter with their own style & vision (not necessarily bad, just different from the show pieces the company may advertise). Most contract videographers on rotation are really talented so this should not be a deal killer but it does require some investigating. I would ask for their names ahead of time (at the time of booking if possible) so you can see that contractor’s reel for yourself as it may be a totally different shooting style than the company chooses to post on their social media. This will also weed out inexperienced lead shooters. There are definitely higher rates when you start dealing with highly skilled & experienced shooters - If you're not sure you can tell by the quality of their work, ask, because years of experience in this field matters a great deal. If you’re not thrilled with the shooters they’ve assigned you, pull an example of a video you like from the company’s social media pages and request to be assigned with the shooters that worked on that film. Many times, if you’re booking early enough, they can accommodate.
Ask how big the gear is. You don’t have to know all of the technical stuff but some videography gear can be quite large, borderline obnoxious even. The larger the gear sometimes means the cooler the shots can be but the downside is you have large, distracting gear running around your wedding day getting in all of your photography and freaking out your guests. We choose to prioritize smaller gear and train our staff shooters to get the same kinds of big gear shots with a smaller, less distracting gear following you around all day. This takes great skill and stamina. Needless to say those types of skills come with a heftier price tag.
Do they pose you a lot or is it photojournalistic style? Time is of the essence and your photographer has a shot list they follow as well as poses they like to get. If your video crew is also directing you for their shots as much as your lead photographer is, you run out of time and before you know it, you’ve had two directors telling you what to do all day long, it’s exhausting. Your photographer should be your director and your videographer should step in with ideas on a minimal basis. Sometimes a video crew believes they should be the boss on the day-of, but really they need to be secondary to your photographer and still be able to capture all the moments they need without too much more posing direction than you already get from your photographer (again, this is a skill). If you prefer that posed video style, I recommend having your planner book extra time for that early in the morning or even the day before/after. Not during the chaos of the full day event.
Editing turnaround time for final video. To give you an idea of what we adhere to on the conservative side. It’s 2 weeks for a trailer, 4-8 weeks for a highlight, 8-10 weeks for longer edits and sometimes 11-12 weeks for the extremely long edits like the extended documentaries. I hear about others taking 6 months to a year or more. If it’s something you care about, it’s worth asking up front. Remember the triangle rule. There’s Fast/Cheap/Good. You can only pick 2 things on the triangle.
Do they farm out their editing or is it always done by on-staff editors? Just like the day-of shooters, some companies farm out the editing to freelance editors. Again, it’s cheaper than having full time staff editors on payroll with benefits. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing, only that you’ll need to know who your editor will be because their work may not be the piece of art you want it to be and you can request a different editor. Sidebar: I tried outsourcing editing once many years ago (to a reputable editor) and I hated it so much that I personally re-edited the entire film myself. Needless to say, we found outsourcing to not be a good fit for us.
On call backup crew. Anything can happen on a live day. We make it a habit to have a crew member on call and available to hop in on a shoot at a moment’s notice in case a car breaks down or an injury happens. This is also why we prefer to add an additional crew member to our out of town shoots whenever the budget allows. I would ask the question “what happens if something goes wrong and one of your shooters can’t get to the chapel”
Ask for the company’s references or better yet, choose them at random from the videos they post on social media. I don’t trust reviews online - companies can fake the good ones, bury the bad ones, and bad ones can be faked just as easily and even more convincingly. If you have the time, shoot a message to a previous client or two - they’re usually tagged in their video company’s social media posts - ask what it was like working with that video company. That way you're getting the real scoop and not a carefully curated list of five star recommendations.
3. Add the Rehearsal Dinner Speeches
If you’re booking a shorter edit and prefer to pass on capturing your RD speeches, you can get away with it. If you’re booking longer form edits though, you really want to consider capturing your RD speeches. If speeches are happening at the rehearsal dinner - definitely get them recorded. And if you get them recorded, make sure the venue has a good PA system available to you with a good microphone (If you choose to use the house PA instead of renting one through your A/V company) Those speeches are from the people who know you best. They’re your storytellers. What better way to make your wedding film unique than to add your story as told by the people that care about you most.
Bonus points: If you are capturing the RD speeches, a speech from one or both of the happy couple saying something about each other is a really nice addition and something you’ll cherish forever.
4. VIP Shot List for Video
We know who your main players are. Anyone in the wedding party, anyone older like grandparents and younger like nieces & nephews BUT if your half brother’s cousin’s uncle’s best friend is important to have in the film, send us those names and photos to add to our list of people to capture footage of. Alternatively (this is a safe space) if there are guests in attendance that you don’t want to spend screen time in your film, send us those as well. We want to make sure your film is something that is the most meaningful to you, forever. And if your sister’s boyfriend she met over the weekend gives an unscheduled 30 minute speech you don’t want in your film, we can cut it.
VIP lists can also include personalized items or things that are meaningful to you that you are incorporating into your day. Like an invitation suite or a hair clip given to you by your grandmother. These are all great things to add to your VIP list so we’re sure to capture them within the context of the day.
5. Good Looking Lighting
Humans always look their best on camera in natural lighting. For anything booked during the day, consider the natural lighting sources when choosing your venues (especially for prep) because you’re going to want to stay around those natural light sources. For brides getting their makeup done, we want them in a tall chair by a window. Most makeup and hair artists know this and have them set up that way. But if your artist sets you up in an interior windowless room or a small bathroom, you’re going to want to request to move to a clean area with plenty of space and a source of natural light.
Lighting for reception should be a dance. Lights up slightly during first and last dances or any other important elements and down again when the band is playing to maximize the party experience.
6. Couple Portraits & Private Last Dances
Your film and photo crews all crave some alone time with the happy couple. Carving out time for couple portraits during the daylight hours after first look, or post ceremony, even during the reception sunset on a rooftop or a cool looking room in an empty part of your venue. These are really nice to have if you can swing it. That’s why we also love the private last dance moment at the end of the reception when your guests leave to line up for your grand exit. These are moments where you get to stop and really sink into each other on one of the biggest days of your life. We love to have the opportunity to capture those moments of you.
7. Vendor Meals
Working a wedding day for your vendors is like running a marathon. It’s a long day, hard physical labor, rushing around on a time crunch, we need to fuel up at dinner time to make it to the finish line. Don’t forget to feed your team well on game day so they can muscle through and finish strong through the exit. It rarely happens where our shooters are not provided a vendor meal, but it has happened.
8. Dance, Baby, Dance!
You have an awesome band, a custom dance floor, gorgeous florals spilling out all over the place, all your favorite people in the world, and you’re in love… Dance Baby Dance! Some of the most beautiful shots we get are your moments on the dance floor being your free & totally liberated, completely happy self. Enjoy your moment!
9. Wedding Day Tipping
So yeah! This is a big question. Do you tip your videographers on your wedding day? I can’t speak for other film crews on this but, for us, any money received as a tip is split equally between the shooters that worked the full day. None of it goes through the company or the rest of the team involved in the production, only your hard working, day-of shooters. It is not necessary nor is it expected. It is a kindness and it is greatly appreciated when it happens. Tip amounts our shooters receive when they are tipped vary between $50 and $300 per shooter.
10. The Dreaded Raw Footage
Yes, we offer the full day-of raw footage as an add-on, but no we don’t recommend buying it. We are going to use all of the best footage and best moments in your film. The raw footage doesn’t go through all of the finalization processing like Color Grading, Audio Mastering and stabilization. It looks flat, shaky and sounds noisy plus you get a lot of times where nothing interesting is happening or 8 different angles of the same pink flower. If there are longer parts we know are important but can’t fit the entire clip in your film - like your grandfather singing a song with the band - we’ll know you’re going to want that and can export it separately for you. The only reason the raw footage is even offered is because people keep asking for it, and that’s cool, we just don’t recommend it.
11. Editing, Editing, Editing
Great! The shooters did their awesome job and now we’re in the post production phase. There is SO much footage to go through. Unlike any other shooting style in the whole world, editing footage from a multi camera, full wedding day shoot is the most intensive and you have to be a little bit crazy to do it. Even documentary style feature films and reality TV shows are scripted for this reason, but wedding films truly are live and anything can happen at any moment from more perspectives than we can possibly have cameras for. So we’ll tend to over shoot and end up with way more footage than we need. A typical wedding can land around 15-30 hours of footage that we have to comb through and build a story with. For this reason, unlike our commercial ads or corporate videos, there isn’t nearly as much client involvement if any at all. It’s just too overwhelming. This is really where our editors get to flex their artist muscles, hide in their dark cave of an edit bay for weeks (don't worry, we have grubhub) and work the footage like a painting to tell your story in the most impactful way. The best editors on the planet are good wedding film editors. This is the time you can sit back, relax, enjoy your honeymoon and know you’re in the most capable hands.
If you want more content like this, have an addition you’d like me to make or a question you need answered, comment below or email me directly Anna@bearhandsmedia.com
I'll conclude with a picture of Justin shooting a Wedding because why not.