10 Secrets to Shooting Great Wedding Videos

6. Test your audio.
Testing your audio before the ceremony is the best way to avoid common audio problems. To test your audio, make sure to arrive at the wedding location at least two hours early, in order to set up your equipment and check it out, and have time to fix any problems that you find. Another good tip is to monitor the audio with your headphones to be sure that it has a professional quality. Unfortunately, audio recorders, unlike wireless mics, cannot be monitored.

7. Concentrate on close-ups.
It is extremely important to get close-up shots at the wedding. Close-ups make your images look sharper and they allow you to capture emotion in your wedding video. Be sure to get close-up shots of the bride and groom, the wedding party, and the parents throughout the wedding and the reception, and use them frequently.

8. Anticipate and follow the action.
In order to shoot a professional wedding video, you must anticipate and follow the action throughout the wedding, especially if you’re doing a one-camera shoot. You only get once chance to capture the action at a wedding ceremony, be prepared for whatever is coming. Talking to the couple and attending the rehearsal ceremony will help you to know what’s happening next, and your camera moves will be more fluid. Anticipating and following the action is key to shooting a professional wedding video.

9. Focus on capturing the event, by creating a memorable documentary of the day’s events.
Special effects are no longer popular in wedding videography, except for a bit of slow motion. Titles are rarely used in wedding videos these days. It is very important to remember that shooting a wedding video is all about capturing an important event, not creating a video with the most special effects. Remember to keep your focus on the couple, the ceremony, and the emotion of the wedding, and tell the story of their day. Later you can add a short “highlights” film of 2 or 3 minutes which becomes part of the video.

10. Finish the job on time.
After you’ve shot the wedding ceremony and the reception, it’s time to produce the finished video. Make sure to allow at least a week of postproduction to finish the job on time. A week should give you time to transfer footage to your system, catch up with other possible clients, editing the ceremony, the reception, and the pre-and-post ceremonies, as well as transferring to tape or DVD and preparing the packaging. Remember that the MOST important part of post-production is delivering the finished video ON TIME. The married couple will be anxious to see their wedding video, and are depending on you to deliver it on the date and time that you promised. Your reputation, and your future clientele, depends on your ability to finish like a pro by producing a professional wedding video on time and on budget.

These excerpts are from The Guide to Professional Wedding Videography Available as DVDs or Blu-ray.

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38 thoughts on “10 Secrets to Shooting Great Wedding Videos

  1. traffic

    Interesting Article! I was asked by a friend to video tape his up coming wedding I think reading this article I might just help him out with it. Thanks for the help

  2. ken

    thanks for the tips, very helpfull. I was looking to “spruce” the current vid I am working on with some animated gif images, and then decided to search help with wedding videos professionally, and found this. It cleared my mind up, and let me concentrate on what really counts…. them, like you said. again, thank you.

  3. nick

    This article is right on the money, I had a unique experience with wedding videos. I put together a still music video for my cousins wedding because I like to make videos and it came out fantastic so much so that my brother asked me to do video for his wedding which was great except that I was the best man too, talk about pressure, luckly I put together a crew in time we used all 10 tips just from common sense and happenstance. We had older equipment but it was solid, I knew what they wanted cause I was always with them and obviously attended the rehersal. Had tons of b roll( let’s say I over did it with 25 total hours of raw footage, we used 5 cameras so I could be sure to get every angle 2 tripod floor level, 2 mobile, 1 balcony) and let’s just say a director in a tux very interesting sight. All went well and the loved the video, we even had a bloopers section for their enjoyment only of course. Great tips though if it wasn’t my brother would have made some money off that wedding.

  4. Todd

    Overall, the list has very good advice for videotaping weddings. After 20 years of doing wedding video full time, I’d like to add a few things myself. First, I disagree that you only take weddings that you able to attend the rehearsal. If you are successful, you won’t want to pass up a Friday night wedding because you have to attend a rehearsal for a Saturday night wedding. Once you have enough experience, there is no need to attend the rehearsal. Good communication with the bride and checking with the locations by phone will work fine. Also, once you work a location the need to attend rehearsals really lessens. I would add to the list the need to have quality backup equipment. You do not get second takes so a broken camera or video light at the ceremony should not shut you down. You need to have good backups in your vehicle ready to be put into use in minutes. The other tip would be to have way more battery power than you think you’ll ever need. The battery working today is suddenly not working tomorrow.

  5. Marc Trainor

    I thought that was an excellent “10 secret list”, and I also heartily agree with Todd’s comment above, except that since I’ve only shot 4 or 5 wedding videos so far, I think it would help me to still try and attend the rehersal. I would agree with Todd, that if you’re a seasoned wedding videographer and very organized, I think you can still pull it off without the rehersal. I couldn’t agree more with Todd about having “extra” batteries. I’ve had em go down on me at the worst times, and if you “ain’t got power” “you ain’t got video. Marc Trainor.

  6. jordan

    Beyond basic talent, It is key (as said above) to understand the pacing and elements of a wedding day. Knowing when they will have their first dance, cut the cake, etc. allows you to capture all of the important moments. It is also important to be the “first on the scene” of such moments. So many of the bride and groom’s families want to be at the front of the line. Because of this, you are either shooting the back of heads hoping to get a glimpse of the cake, or you have to be rude and get everyone out of your way so you can capture the moment. I have been shooting for over ten years now. I don’t normally go to rehearsals, but I do often offer to shoot the rehearsal for an additional fee. It gives you more time with the couple, more footage to play with, and (of course) some more cash in your pocket.

  7. Shaun Foulds

    Some great tips here for getting to grips with wedding videos. I used to attend rehearsals in the beginning but no longer do. I film 40 weddings a year and couldn’t possibly fit them in. I like to arrive fresh at a venue and as long as you arrive in good time then you will be OK. Most of all enjoy it. Wedding videos are my passion and I film many different types of weddings every year and I love it!!

  8. Bob

    Great article and great responses. Jordan mentioned about knowing when the cake cutting, first dance, etc. are going to happen so you don’t miss anything and can get a good shot. The single best way to do this is by working with the DJ. Get to know him or her on a first name basis. He will almost always have a formal itinerary of what’s going to happen and when. Naturally, you already have a good idea as to what is to be included from your previous meetings with the couple but there’s nothing like the official, typed schedule. Even more importantly, most DJ’s are used to “tapping you on the shoulder” and letting you know a certain event is about to happen. Grab her a Coke from the bar and make that rapport!

  9. Brinton

    These are good tips. I think above all, make sure you and your wedding party/clients communicate clearly so that everyone is on the same page. One of the biggest mistakes I see in the industry is lack of communication, which leads to a video product that the couple is less than satisfied with.

  10. Andrew

    Good suggestions and probably helpful for the beginner. Just a word of caution though – planning on getting to the church two hours prior may be a bit optimistic. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve arrived at the church even an hour early only to find the doors locked, or another wedding in progress, or some other church function wrapping up (like maybe a christening). You may find yourself waiting in your car munching on a granola bar for an hour or so.

    Also, if you’re planning on getting any shots of the bride’s prep don’t expect to get a shot of her in her dress if you’re leaving her house 2 hours or more before the ceremony. Prep time often runs late – doesn’t matter how much communication you have with the bride a late hairdresser or makeup artist will through off the best planned schedule.

    So if I could add something to the list – expect the unexpected! Never assume that things will go according to plan because they often don’t.

  11. Neil

    Good comment Andrew, I couldn’t agree more. Also, know the venue. A lot of weddings do not take place in churches. Beware of “fast-food” style wedding chapels, that book 4 or more weddings a day. You will not have time to prepare before the couple arrives or shoot B-Roll after the ceremony. Because the owners will be shoving you out the door.

  12. ola

    pretty useful tips started this year (full time) after 2 years of learning the ropes (parttime),noticed that i follow 80% of the tips inherently.sure about viability.exellent quality from capturing to processing to delivery,(you will always know if you’ve done a good job).need tips on sourcing for clients.wouid love it if i could do 40 a year.

  13. Lee

    A great list of tips (also in the comments section as well) for someone who is starting out. I think 20 years of playing in wedding bands has helped a lot with getting used to expecting the unexpected not to mention the contacts also.

  14. JP

    These tips was truly helpfull.

    One of my friends wants me to film his wedding.

    After all this great advise i am fired up BUT have one question: For low light weddings – WHAT CAMERA SHOULD I BUY for this wedding? I only have a small basic sony camcoder and he wants me to use that – Im just scared that wont do the wedding justice… What do i invest in and may i can use use it for future weddings who knkow? Please help.

  15. Hal

    Hey Michael,

    I don’t know how that inaccurate definition of B-Roll got past me, but I’ve removed it. Thanks for letting me know.

  16. Jason J. Young

    Great tips–“B-roll” actually does stand for “before roll”, according to several articles I read, it’s OK if some don’t agree. As far as the cinematic style, I’m still experimenting with that, none of our clients have asked about it but may in the near future.

    By the way, watch out for scammers–we almost fell for two who had weddings scheduled for last month–here’s how they work:

    1. Both from the Detroit area, living overseas.

    2. Going “from church to reception”.

    3. Sending full payment, with stipulation of sending the band theirs (very unusual).

    4. Both weddings a week apart.

    If you receive E-mail from anyone that has the above, mark it as spam and delete it, alert the wedding site if it came from there.

    Good luck!

  17. annie quintalan

    great tips! thanks for sharing. <3 JP, if you're pursuing a living on wedding videography, invest on decent mid-level dslr, like canon 60D, then some versatile lens, some third party lens are great. i personally like tamron 24-70mm 2.8f because it has a zoom which is perfect for live events, and does great in low-light condition like inside the church. hope it helps.

  18. nekta2sweet

    Thanks for this great tips and to all those who commented ti additional tips. Love yall

  19. Joey

    Excellent tips. I think another great tip to add here is your pre production meeting with the bride and groom. This is a great opportunity to really learn about the couple. Learn what their style is going to be. This will ultimately help you develop your shoot and have a better vision of what the finish product should be. For example I knew this couple wanted a non traditional cinematic story http://momentintimefilms.com/wedding-teasers/cinematic-wedding-video-ny/ So I created that type of story for them. Good Luck!

  20. Chris

    Nice set of tips, but how about getting the names and contact details of the “amateurs” who are always at weddings. Sometimes (just sometimes) these folks catch a wonderful piece of detail that can be incorporated into the final edit. PLUS they get all excited when they see “their” bit of video. I’ve always asked for copies of digital video – and I supply the disk – and 99 times out of 100 I get something back. Its not always useable but its great to have.

    [email protected]

  21. Shane Stuart

    Hi! I love your post thank you for sharing it, well I just hired a videographer to make our Toronto wedding videography. I will refer him this site and I will make him read this to atleast give him more convinient idea on how he would better create an awesome production.

  22. Mark White

    I agree. Great tips. Planning is everything, it allows you to make sure you are in the right place at the right time and are aware of special activities on the day.

  23. Wedding Videographers

    Thank you for the great advice! We are a new wedding videography company and will be definitely keeping these tips in mind. Especially appreciated are tips 2 and 3 about the audio and LUX. Quality lighting is very important and can make or break a wedding shoot.

  24. Bella Smith

    Hi! I like your post very much.
    Professional wedding videographers will definitely make your wedding videos extraordinary, when they will read out the above mentioned secrets of capturing excellent wedding videos.
    Thank you for sharing this informative tips regarding wedding videography with all.
    Looking forward to view some more interesting posts from you.

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