A lighthearted Look at Wedding Video.
The Goal: Create a top-notch video keepsake that will be treasured for generations to come.
As you advance around the board, you collect the knowledge and techniques needed to produce a keepsake wedding video. But, beware! Along the way, there are plenty of pitfalls that can slow you down or even take you out of the game.
Each leg of your journey will call for different skills. Prep City is where you’ll prepare for the big day. On Ceremony Boulevard, you’ll focus on the big event. Receptionville will highlight the post-event celebrations. And finally, the home stretch –
everything comes together on Edit Row.
Start on Square One. Advance step-by-step, trying to avoid the mistakes that can set you back.
In Prep City, you move forward by discussing plans for the video with the happy couple and understanding the kind of ceremony you’ll be filming. Would they like a music montage of pictures at the head of the tape? Should you record personal interviews with the members of the bridal party? Will you shoot with one camera or three? Will you be paid or will you give the video as a gift? This is the time to find out. Here you must gather information, including who the central players are, where and when the action will take place and the kind of ceremony planned. Make notes so you’ll remember the details and give the couple a copy so that everyone knows what to expect.
You cannot proceed from Prep City until you have a complete shot sheet spelling out clearly what’s expected.
This is also where you make absolutely sure you have everything you need to get your job done. That includes your camera, tripod, batteries, wireless mic and tape stock, of course, but also includes a lot of other things you’ll need to make sure your shoot goes smoothly. Extra charged batteries, AC adapters, extension cords and extra videotapes are a good start.
When you’re ready to advance, check everything one more time, and then proceed.
From a simple ceremony before a justice of the peace to a full Catholic wedding with high Mass – the variety of wedding ceremonies is staggering.
Romanian Orthodox and Orthodox Jewish ceremonies are worlds apart, so if it’s your first time videotaping either, you need to talk to the couple and do plenty of research, so you’ll know what to expect.
No matter what kind of wedding you’ll cover, don’t forget that it really isn’t about decorations and fancy dresses. Weddings are about people, and those people go beyond the bride and groom. It is important to identify the important family members, friends and the whole wedding party. A family wedding might be the one and only time Aunt Julia comes back east. So, you need to identify as many friends and family as possible in advance and make sure that you highlight the smiling faces of the entire assembled cast. It’s always a good idea to attend the rehearsal. This will let you locate a good place for the camera, get a feel for the flow of the ceremony, and get you face to face with key members of the family and bridal party.
At the venue, you’ll need to scout out a great camera position. You’ll want to be where you have an unobstructed shot of the bride. Remember, in a wedding, she’s the star.
Also, double-check your audio. Whether you tap into the house PA system or use a dependable wireless microphone on the groom, you’ll need clear audio of what’s said by the minister, bride and groom, and anyone else who participates in the formal parts of the ceremony.
When you land in Receptionville, expect to be on the move. This is where you’ll be doing lots of legwork. Depending on the ceremony type, there’ll be lots of special moments to cover. The arrival of the newlyweds, the cake cutting, the flower toss and all the other traditions leading up to the toasts, the dancing and anything else the planners have cooked up. It’s time to step up and get all those great action shots that will help the happy couple remember this day for a lifetime.
OK, the big day is over, but your job is just beginning. If you got good footage, your editing task will be much easier. Especially if your contract specifies what your “deliverables” will be. Many of today’s brides want complete coverage of the events from start to finish, plus a separate short highlights tape edited down for easy viewing. Your notes from the Prep City interview should have covered all of this, so you know what’s expected.
Now get cutting, so the tape will be ready before the couple gets back from the honeymoon!
Prep City. GO!
- Get baby photos for the opening montage.
- Go over guest list.
- Scout the location.
Talk to the
granted for altar-side camera location. Take a free turn!
- Prep your gear. Lose 1 turn now, but gain 3 free turns later!
- No equipment checklist? Return to square 1!
- You buy two new batteries. Get out of “The Hokey Pokey” free!
You attend the rehearsal.
- Check on-camera light. Replace bad bulb in advance. Free turn!
- You forgot extra batteries! Go back to Start!
- You arrive early. Sun through stained glass is beautiful. Roll again!
Got great shots of the stained glass windows, flowers and candles.
Move 2 spaces.
You need more
extension cords. The church custodian loans you some. Roll again!
arrives early. You’re ready.
- Bride’s mom compliments you on your attire. Move 3 spaces!
- Got an exterior shot of guests arriving and entering the building. Keep shooting!
- Got an interior shot of the auditorium as people enter and take their seats.
- Procession begins. Tape is rolling. Take another turn!
- Shot of the bride is obscured when the guests stand. Lose a turn while you raise your tripod.
Your new wireless mic system is clear as a bell!
Great shot of newlyweds hugging in hallway.
- Nice audience shot of groom’s mom and dad holding hands. Roll again!
- Lose your balance and bump your tripod. Go back back 4 spaces.
- Your altar side-stage left position is perfect for the bride’s vows. Roll again!
Got good shots of the vows, rings and the pronouncement that the couple
is now husband and wife. Proceed.
- Ceremony lasted 75 minutes. You used 90-minute tapes, not 60s. Roll again!
- Outlets are available for lights and battery chargers. Roll again.
- DJ introduces wedding party. As they arrive you get the shots.
- As the couple arrives, everyone stands. You anticipated that and still have a good shot. Roll on.
- You shoot interviews with guests in the lobby.
- The cake is cut and the “cake smear” is civilized. Your lens stays clean.
- The Hokey Pokey begins…
- The best man is sober and keeps his toast brief. Roll on.
- Your battery is dead and you don’t have a backup. Go directly to Edit Row. Lose a turn while you think about how to tell the couple you missed the flower toss and their departure.
- During the bouquet toss, none of the bridesmaids are seriously injured.
- The couple departs. You get a great shot of the “Just Married” sign on their car as they pull away.
- HOKEY POKEY HELL. The dancing lasts till dawn. Bride’s dad says you must stay.
- All your camera tapes are properly labeled. Proceed.
You have plenty of “B-roll” for a nice opening sequence.
- Your review of all the footage confirms: good pictures and audio. Take another turn.
- The bride and groom’s “family photos” for the photo montage are cute. Proceed.
- Your editing system has a built-in heart wipe. Proceed.
- Some of the reception shots are a bit dark. Your editor can fix this. Roll again.
- Too many heart wipes. Go back three spaces and re-edit the family photo montage.
- Uncle Maury’s “wedding joke” at the reception is actually pretty funny. Proceed.
- You find a freeze-frame of the newlyweds stealing a kiss. Perfect closing shot. Roll credits!
- Oops! Misspelled the groom’s name in the graphic. Lose a turn while you find your scribbled notes from Prep City.
- You Win! Deliver your finished video to the happy couple.It’s a wrap!
Bill Davis owns and operates a video production company and produces video training DVDs.
Side Bar: Basic Equipment Checklist
Don’t get stuck without the tools you’ll need.
Make a list of your gear and check it twice. Here’s a handy checklist that will help you make sure you haven’t forgotten anything important.
- Camcorder (tested & checked)
- AC adapter for camcorder
- Lens cleaning tissues
- Primary battery for camcorder (charged)
- Backup batteries for camcorder (charged)
- Battery charger
- Color monitor
- Wireless transmitter with lavalier microphone
- Spare batteries for wireless transmitter
- Wireless microphone receiver
- Spare batteries for wireless receiver
- Handheld microphone for interviews
- On-camera light
- Spare batteries for on-camera light
- Spare bulb for on-camera light
- Extension cords
- Spare tape
- Pen for labeling tapes
- Gaffer’s tape
Side Bar: Pick a Spot
Shooting locations are like noses – you have
to pick them yourself. Get to the rehearsal or arrive early, so you can find the best spot.
- Select a shooting location and set up your
tripod before the crowd begins to arrive.
- Choose a tripod-friendly position at the front
of the chapel.
- Set up on the side opposite the bride, so you
can see her face when the couple turns to
face one another.
- Cover electrical cords with throw rugs or tape
them to the floor to prevent tripping.
Side Bar: Essential Reception Shots
- Exterior establishing shots
- Venue decor
- Wedding Cake
- Arrival of wedding party
- Arrival of Bride & Groom
- Reception line
- Best Man’s Toast
- Maid/Matron of honor speech.
- Bride & Groom’s first dance.
- Bride/Father – Groom/Mother Dance
- General dancing/party footage
- Coverage of all reception guests at tables
- Cutting of Wedding Cake
- Tossing of Bride’s Bouquet, Garter
- Departure of Couple
- Interviews with well-wishers