10 Tips For Hiring Your Perfect Wedding Videographer
By Jared Belcher
In April of 2015, I proposed to my girlfriend, Jill, and we immediately began to plan our autumn wedding. A 6 month engagement meant that we needed to nail down a few key elements fairly quickly. Venue, photographer, wedding party- just to name a few. One of those elements was of course, wedding videographer. Here was our unique problem: most of the videographers we would normally hire were in our wedding party!
(P.S.- The videographers we chose were our friends Joshua and Laura Jones, who did a stunning job shooting our wedding. If you're ever in the Los Angeles area, look them up!)
So we began a mad search, which as wedding videographers ourselves, was an enlightening experience. Suddenly, we were on the other side of our client's inquiries and got to see how difficult it was to find the right videographer.
Luckily, experience came into play. We had some criteria in mind and questions we knew to ask of any potential videographers. But most people don't have experience with wedding videography and for 99% of engaged couples, finding a good videographer is a complete shot in the dark. "Do I even know what to look for?"
We get it.
So as you're shopping around, here are some questions to ask and tips for finding the perfect wedding videographer (that you may not think of!).
1. Consider what videos you want
"Expectations ruin relationships," is a wise phrase my wife often reminds me about the value of communicating well. In planning your wedding, what are your expectations for a wedding video? Do you want the full ceremony filmed? What about the full toasts? Do you want a highlight video of the entire wedding day? Do you want to choose the song or let the videographer choose the song? Do you just want all the unedited footage? Do you need DVDs, the video files, or a link on the internet to view the video?
Every wedding videographer (including us) has a unique service that will offer different kinds of videos. It's important to know what your expectations are and that your videographer's product matches up. For example, we almost never offer DVDs for our clients- so we make sure that any potential client is good with that before they book. If DVDs are very important to our potential client, we would not be a good fit. Find a vender who can provide you with exactly the service and product you're looking for. It'll save everyone from disappointment later on.
2. How long will they be at your wedding?
This is so crucial. Make sure you have a precise idea of which parts of your wedding day the videographer will capture and which parts they won't. Most videographers charge a flat rate based on how many hours they're filming, but make sure to nail down when they arrive, a schedule of events, and when they'll leave. Basically, include them in your schedule like you would your photographer.
3. Give your videographer some exclusive time
For many videographers, including ourselves, they want to capture stunning, cinematic shots of you and your spouse. If you're making the schedule, include a few minutes for the videographer to get shots of the bride, groom, and you as a couple - just as you would provide that time for the photographer. Often, the photographer makes the schedule and may not consider to add in time for the videographer, and while the photographer and videographer will share a ton of shots, it's nice for the videographer to have a few minutes to pose you in a way that'll look amazing on video.
4. When will you receive the finished video?
Ok, so this is a big one. We know so many people who hired a videographer and didn't get the videos until months or years later. Make sure some kind of date is guaranteed in your contract. For example, while we typically deliver the videos within 6 weeks of the wedding, our contracts guarantee that our clients will get them within 6 months or we have to refund them. Which brings me to tip number 5...
5. Have a contract
A wedding video contract is a no-brainer. Even if the videographer is a personal friend, make sure you both have a signed contract stating all the important details. Details like:
Amount of time shooing at the wedding day
Number of videographers
Videos to be made
Delivery format (DVD, blu-ray, thumb drive, link, etc.)
Delivery date guarantee
Final cost and payment schedule
6. Can they handle the technical challenges of your venue?
The lighting in your venue may be positively terrible for video and you likely would not even know it. Surprises like that are no fun for the videographer on the day of, and they're definitely not fun for the wedding couple when they receive their super dark video. Make sure your videographer has a good understanding of where wedding things will happen and ask if they can pull off a great video in those spaces. They should know based a some photos from your phone or a description! Which leads us to...
7. What happens if the weather is bad?
This summer, it rained at 5 of the outdoor weddings we shot. We have provisions for that and were prepared, but not all videographers are. If you are having an outdoor wedding, definitely ask your videographer how bad weather would impact their shooting. It may be that the number of cameras they use is less, or that audio will be less than ideal, or they may not be able to film in bad weather at all. Make sure you have a good idea of their backup plan before you sign on the dotted line.
8. Do you have any say in the editing?
Here's an insider secret: most of us wedding videographers see your wedding video as an artistic work. Often, videographers have a vision in mind for how the final product will look and feel. Hopefully you hired your videographer because of all that! But what happens if you get the final product back, and there are some things you really want to change?
Here's a good example. We once had a bride text us a week after her wedding and ask us not to include any shots in the video of a particular, intoxicated guest. We're happy to oblige, of course! But not all videographers feel the same way. Make sure your videographer is cool with your input and find out whether changes can be made after they finish your video. What's the standard here? For most videographers, a little input is totally fine while they're making your video, but it can be frustrating to make big changes after the video is done.
9. Ask about the special, technical details
Unlike us, you're probably not a video production geek. But there are some terms to know and to ask about!
- Drone - The flying, remote control cameras that get amazing shots from the sky. They are also loud and can be very distracting. Is your videographer using one? When in the schedule and what do they plan to film with it?
- HD and 4K - HD means "High Definition," which is the normal video size these days, anything less than HD is a definite "no". 4K means the video size is 4 times larger than normal (also called super high definition). The future of video is 4K, but HD will definitely work and is the current standard. Sometimes, videographers will mix the two. For example, we film with 4K cameras and shrink it to HD to increase the final picture quality. So ask your videographer, "What resolution will the final video be?"
- Raw Footage - Raw footage means the video files on the computer that were recorded at your wedding, but aren't edited. For us, it's not unusual for us to have a thousand video clips from a wedding. Providing the raw footage means we hand over all of those clips to the client. Is that an option with your videographer?
- Audio - Does the videographer have special equipment to get good sound? Will they be able to record your vows, for example?
10. Book them based on their past work
This is the most important tip I can offer you. Book your videographer because you love the videos they've made for other weddings. Their video portfolio is going to give you an accurate expectation of what they will create for your wedding. And don't watch just one video before booking. You don't want to see the ONE good video a videographer has made and not the other 12, terrible ones. As you view their portfolio, make sure you watch some of their recent videos and that you think they're amazing.
How do their videos make you feel?
You may not know the technical stuff about shot composition, color grading, timing, narrative, or music selection - and you don't need to. Simply consider how their videos make you feel. For example, our goal at Noble Limits is to make wedding videos that people who have never met the wedding couple will love. If someone doesn't know the wedding couple and still loves the video we made, we think it's a good video. Find a videographer who makes videos that you really love. It's simple but super effective.
I hope these tips
As with all parts of planning a wedding, finding a great videographer can be a little stressful. Our advice is to enjoy the process! There are so, so many great videographers out there and you can totally find the right one. Follow these tips, find someone you really like on a personal level, and get excited about having a video you are going to cherish for the rest of your lives.