Wedding Video: 14 Tips for Getting the Most Out of your Day

This is an article on how to get the best out of your wedding video. This is all just based on my own observations and experience at weddings, so feel free to throw it out the window if you disagree. My aim is simply to provide you with information so you can make the right decisions for your wedding. I have broken the article down into 5 sections:

  • Time
    • Keeping to your schedule
    • Giving a heads up
    • Timing a couples shoot at sunset
  • Aesthetics
    • Keeping your prep room tidy
    • Unplugging your ceremony
    • Getting detail shots ready
  • Lighting
    • Choosing the style of your wedding
    • Turning lights off during prep
  • Speeches
    • Choosing your speakers
    • Positioning your speakers
    • Choosing the right time for speeches
  • Modelling
    • Moving slowly
    • Showing your emotions
    • Keeping eye contact

Each section breaks down the effect of managing each of these things differently can have. So let’s crack on with the first one.

Time

Keeping to your schedule

This can be a hard one to stick to, for sure. Everything at weddings seems to take longer than it should do. Getting guests together for photos is sometimes like herding cats. Everybody is just there to have a good time and meet old friends. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and stick to your schedule. Most wedding planners know how important this is and if they’re good at their job, will keep things moving along nicely. But what if you don’t have a wedding planner? Consider assigning a best man, bridesmaid or whoever gets the bossiest when you’re playing board games. Weddings are like movies and have a beginning, middle and an end. If any one part of the wedding drags on too long, it can affect the flow of the wedding in strange ways.

A close up picture of a pocket watch telling the time.

Giving a Heads Up

Before you do anything that potentially needs to be filmed, and I mean anything. Be that exchanging of gifts, opening a card, an impromptu speech or anything of the like. It’s a good idea to give us a heads up. More times than not, we need a little time to set up to capture shots in the best possible way. We might need to set up a microphone here, change a lens there or just get in the most optimal position to make that shot one to remember.

I once had an MC come up to me and say “don’t worry, take a break and eat your food. I’ll let you know 5 minutes before any speeches take place so you can get ready”. Next thing I know, his brother got up and started proceedings without any heads up at all! I managed to get up and running in no time but the potential was there for things to have gone much worse.

Timing a couples shoot at sunset

Depending on the time of year, this isn’t always possible. But, wherever you can it’s a good idea to try and schedule a couples shoot at sunset. Sunset is always going to be the best time to get shots of the bride and groom together. It can also be a great time for brides and grooms to get away for the hustle and bustle of their guests for a breather. So, when you’re planning your schedule, look at when sunset is going to be and put away some time for a shoot. Your photographer and videographer will appreciate it, and so will you when you see the result, trust me!

Newly wed couple sitting by a lake enjoying the sunset going down.

Aesthetics

Aesthetics is a broad term and could mean many different things. On this occasion, I am referring to simply how things may appear on camera. Let’s break this down into smaller chunks.

Keeping your prep location tidy

The importance of keeping your prep location cannot be understated. I understand, often there will be numerous Bridesmaids or groomsmen all piled into one room. This can make keeping your room tidy difficult. However, please bear in mind that if there is dirty underwear or banana skins lying around the room, I might be less inclined to pull out my wide angle  lens. I’m also not saying I cannot work around these issues. I have done many times. But, if you want your video to be the best it can be, please think about putting some things away. Only leave out things that you want captured on video. As an example, empty champagne bottles from the night before tend to look better than empty cans of fosters.

Having an unplugged ceremony

First of all, what is an unplugged ceremony? An unplugged ceremony is where you ask all your guests to not bring out their smart phones or cameras during the ceremony.

Whether or not to have an unplugged ceremony is a matter of personal opinion. Often shots with lots of guests filming with a camera phone can look very pretty. However, this is a stylistic choice that you have to make. If guests are not asked to keep their phones away, guests can often block our cameras setup on tripods when they try to get a shot for themselves. We set up multiple cameras to try to prepare for this eventuality, but there is often one optimal shot for these moments. Would you rather us be capturing that shot with our £2000 cameras or uncle Jimmy with his iPhone 4? So please consider asking everyone to keep their phones away. When phones are away people are in the present moment, and that’s what you want at a wedding right?

Having detail shots ready

If you want to show off your dress, rings, cufflinks, watch or any other detail shot it is a good idea to lay this out for us early. These shots take time to set up and anytime we spend setting up these shots is time spent not filming you and your wedding party.  If you do not lay it out, we may not even know that you want a shot of it and it might be missed. For video, it can look especially nice if you or your bridal party are interacting with these detail items. Obviously we don’t want to miss this opportunity but there is no harm in setting everything out first and having you come into interact with it later.

Lighting

Lighting really does come down to Aesthetics and I could have just as easily put it into that section. However as I had a number of different points I decided to put it into its own category.  So let’s break those down now

Choosing the style of your wedding

When planning your wedding and choosing your location it is important to keep in the back of your mind the style of wedding that you want. if you want a bright airy wedding it might not be a great idea to get married in a dark gloomy church and vice versa. Many dark situations during reception can the fixed with lighting, but this is not really an option during ceremonies.

Turning lights off during prep

Another important time to consider lighting is during wedding prep. None photographers videographers do not always know the importance of natural light. Natural light will always look better on camera than an electric light. So what does this mean when you are getting ready?  It’s simple really. Getting ready in front of a window and not in the bathroom. Also, turning off any unnatural night lights that are in the room. Often makeup artists will want to do the same thing, but not always. Most of the time, a quick conversation with them is all that is needed to let them know why we are turning off the lights.

Speeches

Speeches are obviously one of the most important times of the day for a wedding video.  Great speeches can really help make a great wedding video. emotions are off and running high during speeches and they are a great opportunity to steal audio to become the backbone of the video.  so what are the things you need to consider when doing speeches

Choosing your speakers

Who will be doing speeches can also have a great effect on your wedding. The traditional wedding speech order goes the father of the bride, groom, best man and other toasts. That’s a pretty male-centric set of speeches if you ask me. Luckily people seem to have broken out of the tradition and have started experimenting with different formats. I’ve seen this go well and other times less well. One wedding that I shot decided to have 3 best men and free best man speeches.  as you can imagine each best man tried to top the previous one and the speeches turned into a joke after joke at the groom’s expense. speeches by the Bride or bridesmaids tend to follow this format less. in terms of speeches that come across well in wedding videos the more heartfelt the better. It’s up to you who you choose to have to do a speech at your wedding but just bare these things in mind.

Positioning your speakers

I’m amazed when wedding locations who hosts dozens of weddings every year have not yet optimised their space for speeches.  I’ve seen 6 foot bouquets of flowers blocking everyone’s view, pillars in the way of guests or simply no good location for the top table.  When all this is being planned out, spare a thought for your videographer. During speeches we normally setup a couple of tripods to capture everything. Where will these tripods go for us to get a good view. Is there a better location for speeches elsewhere? A set of stairs or even outside are options that are often not utilised but can be much better than sitting in the same place everybody ate in.

Choosing the right time for speeches

There has also been a trend recently to start doing speeches in between courses.  as a videographer I would highly recommend against doing this for multiple reasons.  firstly from a purely selfish point of view and the fact that I need time to take a break. one course is not long for me to sit down and regain my energy especially when I need to get up and reset up my equipment.  the other reason is it gives guest time to settle down and once they’ve eaten their food they tend to be more attentive when the speeches finally start

Modelling

I’m not really sure this is the best word for it but I couldn’t think of what else to call it so let’s just go with modelling. This can be a difficult one for more camera shy couple who don’t like the lens focused on them. That doesn’t mean you can’t do a few simple things that will make our lives and consequently your wedding video easier.

Moving slowly

Weddings are exciting, all your friends and family are here the day you’ve been planning all this time is finally happening.  All your adrenaline starts pumping through your veins which can in turn have the effect of making you do everything really quickly. But don’t forget your poor videographer. If your first kiss is a peck on the cheek that’s fine, but it’ll look much better on video if you take your time and really embrace the moment. This includes everything from walking down the aisle, cutting the cake to your first dance. Doing everything slowly gives us the time to really get the shot  like they did in your favourite wedding video.

Showing emotions

This one is still mostly for the grooms. But come on guys it’s 2019. No one is going to judge you if you shed a little tear.  Let’s be honest, it is much more touching when you do. Would you rather a strange grimace on your face like you’re trying to open a stuck jar of olives, or a genuine moment to be captured forever. You might even set off some of the guests at the same time

Making eye contact during confetti

This is another difficult one as it goes against your natural reflexes. It is understandable that you want to scrunch up your face and hide when people are throwing lots of tiny things at your face, no matter how small or soft.

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