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A beginner’s guide to choosing a wedding videographer

This blog post was authored by our guest writer and friend Colin Pattison from Featherstone Studios:

Wedding photography is a “must have,” right up there with the venue, the cake and the food. We don’t think twice about it, and there are no lack of great wedding photographers in the world to choose from. Styles may vary, but thanks to Instagram and Pinterest, most brides quickly become experts in which styles of photography they like and choose accordingly.

Wedding video, on the other hand, is less commonly understood. With a plethora of styles to choose from, and pricing that can seem nonsensical without a reference point, how do you decide what video options are right for you? Let’s break it down.

Service - A few key points to ask about

Wedding video services vary widely, but there are a few things that every bride should ask about.

1. How many hours of service?

A basic but important question. If you just need the ceremony and some of the reception, six hours should be enough. If you want from the ceremony all the way through the first hour of open dancing, eight hours should cover it. If you want bride and groom behind-the-scenes preparation, all the way through to open dancing, you’ll probably need ten hours or more. Make sure to ask prospective videographers how many hours their services include and how much overtime costs.

2. How many camera angles?

You never know when one of your guests will stand up right in front of a video camera to get a ‘perfect shot’ on their phone. So, you’ll want a minimum of two independent cameras shooting from different angles at all times. This works well for speeches, dances and other key moments. As for the ceremony, you’ll want three. This insures that the bride, groom and guests all get their own coverage.

3. What is the finished product I receive?

So you’ve decided on how many hours you need and how many camera angles you’re getting. Now, you’ll need to figure out how you want all that beautiful footage put together. Most videographers offer two types of finished products: a highlights edit or a full-length edit. These go by many names, but here’s the difference; a highlights edit will be a 3-5 minute video of the best moments from your wedding put together and set to music to create a fun and easy-to-watch video. These are great for the couple, family and friends to watch. A full-length video will include things like the ceremony, speeches and first dances in their entirety. This is great for the couple, but most guests and family will find it too long to really watch.

4. Do I get the RAW footage?

RAW footage is the original, uncut, unedited footage straight from the camera. Why would you want this? If you’re purchasing a highlights edit or a full-length edit, you don’t need RAW footage, but you might want it just for archival purposes. However, some videographers offer an option to shoot the wedding, and then hand over RAW footage instead of a highlights or full-length edit. This option is often much less expensive than having the footage edited right away. This will save you money now, while your budget is tightest paying for the rest of the wedding. You can try to edit it on your own, but it’s not recommended, as editing is a time-consuming and tedious process. Instead, ask your videographer if they would be willing to sell you the RAW footage, and then have them edit it together at a later date.

A surprise edited wedding video makes a great anniversary present.

Pricing - How is it justified?

The first thing to know is that video is actually more work intensive than photography. Not only is the videographer making sure every second of content is recorded beautifully; they’re also responsible for recording multiple sources of audio. A standard minimum ceremony requires that they mic the groom, the officiant, the soundboard, and setup ambient audio recording for applause and laughter. That’s four extra devices to setup and monitor. All this while also recording video from multiple cameras. This amounts to a lot of planning and work.

Editing video is also much more time-consuming than editing photography. If a videographer shoots an 8-hour wedding day on 3 cameras, it amounts to about 12 solid hours of usable footage. All of this footage needs to be reviewed, cut, synched, trimmed and color corrected. Multiple audio recordings from throughout the day also need to be synched with the video. In the end, that 12 hours of footage can turn into 30 hours of work for a full-length video edit. While highlight edits are shorter, they are no less time-consuming.

Pricing - General guide

Prices will vary based on location, experience, services offered and more. Below is a basic guide to some minimums to expect from a quality videographer.

1. Video Capture

Spend at least $1,000 on 6 hours of shooting. Video has a lot of overhead, including cost of equipment, assistants, travel, insurance, computers and software for editing, and more. An experienced videographer is worth the cost. You only get this special day once, so make sure to hire someone who has experience dealing with the many ups and downs of a wedding.

2. RAW Footage

Some videographers include this for free. Some charge hundreds of dollars for it. Make sure to check with your videographer and decide what is right for you.

3. Highlights Edit

Spend at least $1,000 on this. It’s a time-consuming process akin to a complicated jigsaw puzzle. An expert videographer will know how to piece it together properly to convey the feeling and emotion of your wedding.

4. Full-Length Edit

$1,200 is a good starting price for this. It’s a lot of hours of footage to work with, but in the end, a talented videographer can make you feel as if you are reliving your special day.

Final thoughts

If you want to share your wedding online, there’s no better way to do it than with a highlights video. If you want to remember the speech your father gave, or how beautiful that dress looked sweeping across the dance floor, then a professional video is worth every penny. There’s something magical about video. It transports us, it inspires us. It plays our heart strings like a fine-tuned piano. Wedding photos can make us smile, but only a well-made wedding video will make us cry.

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