Wedding video real talk: Professional versus home movies

Guest post by AmyApplesnail
By: angeloangelo – CC BY 2.0
By: angeloangeloCC BY 2.0

When my wife and I were planning our wedding we set a budget and pretty much stayed within it. This meant scrapping the idea of having a professional videographer. We LOVED our photographer, though, which made it easier to let go of the idea of having video footage of the day. By the time the wedding rolled around, video was the last thing on my mind.

As we walked down the aisle, I had a moment of panic when I noticed multiple cameras on us — not only were our husband-and-wife photographer team standing at the end of the aisle waiting for us, there were two people with video cameras up there, too! Thoughts of wedding crashers who got in under the guise of being the hired videographer crossed my mind… but it turned out that both my wife's dad and my mom had decided to surprise us with a videographer. Although they didn't communicate their surprise idea to each other, my mom did tell our wedding coordinator, who cautioned that wedding day surprises were rarely a good idea. She was correct, based on the panic and confusion I felt.

Beyond the short-lived drama over the two identical surprise gifts, it turned out to be such a wonderful surprise (in the end).

Here's what I learned from this unique experience of having the home video-style photography AND the professional videography:

Home-style, camcorder video with no editing

My father-in-law's videographer was a friend of his from work, who used a regular old camcorder and didn't do any video editing. I did not like watching the ceremony from start to finish with no editing. I started to pick out the tiny little things that didn't go perfectly to plan, I over-analyzed my nervous fidgeting at the altar, and I noticed my nervous laughing during the reading in memory of my wife's mother who passed away. I discovered that the recessional music was too quiet for the effect I wanted it to give (as far as I could tell through the camcorder recording). All these silly little things, that I didn't notice on the actual day-of, were displayed in an awkward exact-replay of the ceremony.

Professional videography (done by the film program at Ryerson University)

I LOVED the professional video. We chose the music to accompany the perfectly-spliced-together footage — capturing only the best moments of the day, yet at the same time giving us a satisfying reminder of the best of how the day looked and felt. I don't know if this was due to creative editing, but it made us and our guests look GOOD.

If I were to do it again

I would find a way to be able to afford one videographer — either professional or film student. Then I would ask for separate, un-cut footage of the ceremony (which I would NOT watch until years later) just so I could still have that record of the vows and the ceremony we wrote for ourselves. Summary of what I learned? Editing is really important.

What were the lessons YOU learned from your experience with wedding day videography?

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Comments on Wedding video real talk: Professional versus home movies

  1. My cousin very kindly gave us the gift of videography — he’s a semi-professional videographer and does some lovely work. I got both a few edited videos as well as most of the uncut, unedited footage. And while I love the edited ones, I also love going back and watching the uncut stuff, especially the ceremony and the speeches. I think I would have been perfectly happy with just the uncut stuff, but having the professional, edited vids is extra-special.

  2. Ask if your venue already has a web-cam in place. If you mostly just want to capture the ceremony, you may be able to do so at no additional cost. We got a free recording of our ceremony. Because the religious location regularly webcasts and saves services (so the homebound and hospitalized can participate), it was all set up to have a nice view of the location and good sound quality. We just had to ask them if they’d turn it on for our ceremony. Bonus, some elderly relatives who could not travel got to watch live from afar.

  3. Hey! This is a great piece!

    The one thing that stood out to me is something that’s been coming up lately in my photography community–people asking for raw images/video. It is not always the practice of photographers/videographers to give raw images/video. As you noted yourself, editing is key! Part of what you are paying for when you hire a pro is that editing time and talent.

    My advice would be find a way to afford a videographer that has a journalistic approach and work with her/him to make sure they capture certain moments and be sure those are included in the final cut. If you are really intent on recieving the uncut footage, be sure to look in the contract you sign to make sure your videographer will be willing to give it to you!

    • To add to this, a lot of people don’t tooootally know what they’re asking for when they think they want the raw footage. I shoot with a crew of 3, for example, and many videographers (or “cinematographers”) are shooting with DSLRs, which break everything up into clips that may not even be playable in the format you’d prefer. For us, actual raw footage means a hard drive full of straight, un-color corrected, often out-of-order video clips.

      Consider adding or asking if your videographer includes a “clean-up” or “doc edit” of the big events of the day. My crew shoots morning to night and includes bits from the entire day to edit together a cinematic story, but we also include those clean-up edits, so you can sit and watch your full ceremony or toasts or first dance (etc) cut between each angle. In my experience, that is usually what people want when they ask for that “raw footage”

  4. We weren’t going to have any videography, but my dad, after ‘giving me away,’ secretly recorded the ceremony from the front pew of the church. It’s choppy and I can hear his loud singing to the music, but it is the most special gift he could have given me. I still don’t think I would want professionally done videos, but I loved being surprised by his gesture.

  5. A great post. It’s really useful to know how the different types of videography worked out for one wedding. It’s a rare case study

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