11 tips for an amateur wedding videographer

I don't often film weddings, but when I do, there are a million things going through my head. It can be a very difficult and challenging process, but by applying some of these tips, you should be able to make things a lot easier for yourself. 

Let's begin. 

 

Make sure they know what they are getting

Speaking with your Bride and Groom before the wedding is very important. Speaking to them more than once is even better. Ask them loads of questions and plant ideas in their head for them to simmer over before your next chat. Things like:

  • Do you want me to film in the Bride/Groom's house on the morning of the wedding?
  • Would you like me to stay until the very end?
  • What time is everything happening at? Ceremony, speeches, food etc.

Sorting all of these things out before the day will ensure that you don't go home early, or miss anything that was important to the couple. Remember that they have watched plenty of wedding videos by this point and probably have some expectations, it's best to make sure that you are fully aware of all of these expectations. 

 

Bring along a friend

I have a go-to friend that I call when I have a wedding to record. It helps that he is talented with the camera, but even if he wasn't, I'd still get him to help me out. It's so nice to have someone to bounce ideas off during that long day. It's also nice to have someone to keep your energy up as you remain on your feet. 

They are also great for the down time - when everyone is eating - you can have a chat and release the stress.

 

Audio is immensely important

You can get away with low quality video. Honestly, a huge percentage of people still aren't even sure what 'HD' is and how to spot the difference between 'HD' and 'SD'. (That's not to say you should be cheap and go SD - I'm just making a point). 

Anyway, the thing that they will notice is the audio quality. This is where you should spend money. Get yourself an audio recorder - I recommend something like the Zoom H4N (mainly because I have used it and know how good it is). Then plug a lapel mic into it and attach it to your Groom (sticking the recorder in his pocket). This way you will have wonderfully clear audio of the most important part: The vows. 

Most churches/chapels/venues have really decent sound systems these days so it might be even easier to plug your recorder straight into that.

Some equipment I use during a wedding shoot

Multiple cameras

One camera won't be enough. When you sit down to edit your final video, having a safety wide-shot will come in extremely handy for fixing any little weird zooms/pans that you did on the day. Invest in a cheaper camera and stick it somewhere at the back - you'll definitely cut to it at some point (plus it's good to establish a sense of place within the venue). 

 

Film everything

Never stop recording. Even when it doesn't seems like a 'main part'. While people are arriving in the morning, there is always a child running around or a group of friends turning up. Just keep recording from start to finish. When (or if) you make a little highlight reel of the day, all these little scenarios will be gold - these are exactly the kinds of things that the Bride and Groom will have missed. 

 

Lighting the first dance

I'm sharing this based on a past failure. I filmed a couple's first dance but the footage was too dark and grainy and in the end I felt that it was unusable - luckily the couple were lovely people who totally understood my issue, but you might not get so lucky.

Consider bringing a light if you can, and if you can't, try getting the band (if there is one) to shine one on them. Or even fade up the overall lighting on the dance floor. In any case, think about it before they start dancing, as it's already too late then.

 

Edit it fast

Once again, speaking from my own failures here. Imagine getting home after this long day and starting to edit it - it's not going to happen and I don't blame you. Also, most couples go straight on a two week honeymoon so the pressure to finish the job slips away. 

I recommend giving yourself a deadline and sticking to it. Weeks can easily turn into months and then when you finally start the edit, you've lost all passion for the project. 

I say, do it within a month at the longest. 

 

Take photos too

During the wedding, do yourself a favour and take photos. Everything from guests faces, to the Bride's dress. All of this will come in handy during montages and final DVD artwork (or even video thumbnails if you are submitting it to them digitally).

Some stills from a recent wedding I filmed

Be willing to take criticism of your edit

You'll get to the end of your edit, but that's not where the job is done. Send the DVD to the (hopefully) happy couple and encourage them to give you feedback. Let's not forget that this is their video, not yours. In a few months you will have forgotten about this, but they will have to keep it forever. Be as nice as possible when it comes to re-editing and be open to their criticism. 

 

Make a nice DVD cover

You've spent a day filming the wedding and possibly a week or so editing, now it's time to throw on the final touch - the DVD cover. Don't just send your beautifully crafted video in a crappy black DVD case! Jump into Photoshop and make a custom cover that helps the couple recognise the beauty that's in store for them. It looks so professional. 

 

Pricing is difficult 

In life, nothing makes me more uncomfortable than talking about money - specifically how much to charge people for the work I am doing. 

Annoyingly, I can't help you too much here - if you under-price them you're underselling your skills. If you over-price them, they might not even want you to make the video.

The best advice I can give is think about it at an hourly rate. For example, if you were to charge £20 per hour and spent 20 hours filming and editing this project, you're talking about £400 for the full package. You can most definitely raise this price steadily as you get more and more comfortable doing wedding videos. 

 

hope these tips helped a little! As always, if you have any questions then please get in touch in the comments below. 

I'd also be really interested to hear about your wedding experiences!

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