ADVICE FROM A WEDDING VIDEOGRAPHER While hiring a still photographer is usually a given for most weddings, hiring a wedding videographer is sometimes considered more of a luxury. There's no doubt about it, weddings can be expensive and sometimes the cost of a videographer can seem high and well, cousin Billy just got a new camcorder... But be careful, because along with shooting your wedding, Cousin Billy will probably also be hitting the bar and maybe hitting on that really pretty bridesmaid because Billy will be there to have fun, after all you invited him, you didn't hire him. So if you really want a video of your wedding (and things like the first dance and the cake cutting and the bouquet toss,) the only way to make sure you get one is to hire a professional wedding videographer. If you do decide to hire a videographer you should get the most for your money and you should find someone whose style matches your own. Below are the top 5 questions I think it's most import to ask (besides price.) I've put this list together based on what I actually do in preparing to shoot a wedding. It should give you an idea of how we go about shooting a wedding as well as help you to get what you really want out of a videographer. 5 QUESTIONS YOU CAN ASK YOUR VIDEOGRAPHER 1: Ask if they use broadcast quality cameras. This can make a big difference in how your video looks. In the trade these are usually referred to as "3-chip cameras." Any serious wedding videographer will have these. Also, find out how many cameras they'll use to "cover" the wedding. I generally use two at the ceremony and one at the reception, though for big weddings I'll use two at the reception as well. 2: Ask if editing is included. I always edit my videos. Handing over a tape that I've shot and dubbed without touching just isn't an option for me. Editing makes a better video for you and allows me to try a little harder during the reception to get really cool shots - because I know if something doesn't work, I don't have to use it. But of course editing is more work and costs more, so if you're getting a deal that seems too good to be true, ask about this one. 3: Ask to see a DVD or tape of their work. I don't put clips on my website but I do encourage potential clients to ask for a DVD demo reel. A lot of people hire someone based on the one-minute clips of video they've posted to their website. A video may look great in a small box on your computer monitor, but what will it look like on your plasma screen at home? This is also a really good way to see what the videographer's style of shooting is. If you find a videographer you like but you've seen an element on someone else's demo reel that you want to include, don't be afraid to request it, most of us are always looking for new ideas. 4: Ask if they use wireless microphones for the ceremony. Again, this is something any professional wedding videographer will have but it can make a HUGE difference. I always put a microphone on the groom and one the officiant, minister or rabbi, if I can. That way I can be sure to get the audio of the entire ceremony crisp and clean on tape. Since I don't put one on the bride, by using two this way I can be sure to get her voice no matter which way she's facing. 5: Ask how they approach guests. I love to get little clips of the guests offering best wishes or advice to the couple that I can include in a final edit. But as your representative, the last thing I want to do is harass your guests. Generally speaking, I'll approach guests once and ask if they'd like to participate. I always try to avoid interrupting conversations if I can. If someone says no, or they don't feel comfortable doing it then I take them at their word and don't pester them. In my experience, Grandparents usually seem to be the most likely to say, no, so if you really want them on the video, you may want to say something to them before the wedding. 5 THINGS YOU CAN DO TO MAKE A BETTER VIDEO It's your big day! You've planned for this, dreamed about it, prepared for it and then when it's all over, you sit down to watch the video... Having worked as a videographer I've shot dozens of weddings and had an absolute blast doing it. I've learned a thing or two about what makes a wedding video great. There are things that I can do as a shooter and there are things you can do as a couple. Act Natural. The most important thing that I tell all my clients is don't be camera shy! When I shoot I like to wander around the reception and capture little pieces of conversations here and there. I always keep an eye on the bride and groom and from time to time will try to sneak up on them and capture a nice moment. These always make great pieces in the final video except when the bride and groom freeze up the minute they see the camera. Of course it's natural to get stage fright, but if you see the camera pointing at you don't act like you've just been arrested and are trying to hide your face from the world, just keep doing what you're doing. As I like to tell people, act natural. Don't worry about looking bad. The last thing I want to do is include something in the video that's going to make my clients look stupid. Talk to Your Videographer. Be sure to tell your videographer if there's something special you want included. I always keep an eye out for things that look special, but there might be something you've spent extra time on and you really, really, really want in the movie. Let your videographer know. I love to get input like that because it makes my job easier. Talk to Your Coordinator. I can't tell you how many times I've been outside shooting a nice little interview with a bridesmaid and suddenly I'll have to rush back inside to get the cake cutting or the bouquet toss. Usually there's someone in charge of the timeline, sometimes it's an actual coordinator or caterer, sometimes the band leader, sometimes the DJ and sometimes the photographer. I always find that person and tell them before the reception to let me know when things are going to happen so I can be ready. But every once in a while they forget and I wind up scrambling. Talk to your coordinator, talk to whoever is calling the shots and tell them to make sure the videographer and the photographer are informed, there and ready when important events are going to happen. A word from you can work wonders. Remember, for tonight - you're the boss. Point a Toe. I know this sounds crazy but it really does seem to work and it will help your still photos as well. All you have to do is extend one foot out slightly and point your toe. It causes all kinds of amazing things (lines, as we image people like to say) to happen to your body. Try it out, stand in front of a full-length mirror flat-footed and then point a toe. You just look better. And I'll bet you can't do it without smiling. Talk to Each Other. Toward the end of the evening, I always ask the bride and groom to step outside and record a little message to themselves. It's always a nice moment and years from now it will be really nice to look back on and see what you thought at the time. But it can be hard to just look at the camera and say what you think, so the best way to do it is to tell your spouse. Pretend the camera isn't there and just talk to each other.