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Dos and Don'ts of Wedding Video Packages

There are as many options and extras for your wedding video as there are for your photos. To help you pick out the right package for you, here's what to include with your wedding video package -- and what to cut.

Don't Include: A Photomontage

Don't get us wrong -- it's always fun to look at baby pictures and honeymoon snapshots. But you don't need a reel of both to start off and end your wedding video. Save the childhood photomontage for your rehearsal dinner. If you want to share the montage afterward, just burn copies of the DVD, or download the file onto your computer and send around the link. Your friends will lose attention after 20 minutes, tops, and you don't want to waste five of those watching still photos of you two morphing from infants to schoolchildren to awkward adolescents to newlyweds. Get straight to the action. If you're investing in a videographer to cover your entire wedding, you'll have plenty of footage to condense into a 20- to 30-minute clip, so devote your videographer's time (and your money) toward a skillfully edited video that your friends and family won't mind watching (and that you'll have time to watch again and again).


Do Include: A DVD Menu with Chapters

Many videographers will break up your wedding DVD into chapters -- so you can skip, say, 10 minutes at a time instead of fast-forwarding through every single moment in the hour-long video -- and it's often included in the package fee. If you want the video broken down further, so you can select from a menu of the major moments (like "cake cutting" or "toasts") and be taken straight to that part of the reception, there may be an additional charge. But it's worth it if you're just ordering a traditional hour-long video sans a highlight reel or trailer. That way you get more of the day's footage, but you can skip around when friends are over to show them just the parts they're interested in seeing (read: the parts they're in), for the best of both worlds. But if you're looking to trim your video budget, just stick with the menu and chapter breakdown included in your package. For the amount of times you'll watch the video, you can deal with fast-forwarding through a few minutes of footage.


Don't Include: Preceremony Coverage

While photos of the prewedding prep make for great keepsakes, you don't necessarily need to film it. Getting ready before your wedding ceremony can be pretty stressful, and if you don't like being in the spotlight to begin with, you may not want to pay someone to capture everything you say and do before you're camera-ready. It's definitely a special moment, but not something you need to watch over and over again. Plus, an hour of primping and prepping probably won't be too interesting to watch. Like with photographers, many videographers' packages include a set number of hours -- and anything over that is extra. To make the most of that time without the risk of incurring overtime fees, focus on the actual wedding and ask your videographer to meet you at the ceremony, or to just come for the very end of the prep time if you simply can't live without a behind-the-scenes glimpse. Also, keep in mind: Most videographers won't follow you to a salon to shoot as you get your hair and makeup done. But even without formal preceremony coverage, your videographer will likely shoot the outside of your venue and the guests walking in to help set the scene, so your video won't start right as the first attendant walks down the aisle.


Do Include: The Ceremony

You'll definitely want footage of the entire ceremony, from the start of the processional to your final exit and especially the important words (and tears or laughs) you share in between. If you're getting married in a house of worship, just make sure they allow filming inside first (most do). So don't skimp on ceremony coverage in order to get more reception coverage out of your four-hour video package. In fact, the ceremony is a good reason to splurge on a second shooter (more on that later). Also, build in time for your videographer to capture the guests arriving before the ceremony -- one of those moments you'll miss on your wedding day that will be fun to watch afterward.


Don't Include: Guest Interviews

Guests tend to say the same exact things in video messages. How often do you go much beyond, "Congratulations, you look beautiful and good luck," when you get the mic at a party? Plus, it can be annoying for the guest who's interrupted in the middle of eating her salad and encouraged to say a few words about the happy couple as the rest of the table looks on. Sure, watching Aunt Gina caught off-guard when it's her turn to talk can be funny to watch later, but down the road, it's the personal messages that will resonate the most -- and you're probably not going to get many of those if your videographer has to put guests on the spot. If you still want to record guests' personal messages and incorporate voice-overs in your video -- taped interviews or statements that can be recorded separately and used to enhance certain scenes -- consider a video guest book. A video guest book is just like a photo booth, but instead of taking pictures, your guests will record short videos. To mix it up so they're not just saying the same "Congrats!" message, set out a jar of questions for guests to pick from and answer.


Do Include: The Reception

All of the people you love gathered together at one party will make for some great memories, but you can't physically be a part of all of them (sorry!). A great videographer will capture many of the little moments you won't get to see in person. For instance, if you're taking photos during the cocktail hour, you might miss your friends playing with the photo booth props or your guests gawking at the flamenco dancers you hired to entertain them. And when you're being pulled in a million different directions, the day will go by in a blur and you'll miss the little moments that will help to make the day so special, like the groomsmen horsing around while you're taking your couple portraits or your niece and nephew imitating you two during your first dance.


Do Include: A Highlight Reel

This is what you'll show to the friends and family who you know won't want to sit through all of your ceremony readings and your second cousin's solo performance (they already sat through it once!). If you're going to devote part of your photo budget to videography, you don't want the wedding video to just sit on a shelf and collect dust after the wedding. That's why highlight reels -- a 5- to 10-minute movie that includes the highlights of the day -- have become the standard in wedding videos. They're far more viewer-friendly, because let's face it: As much as you want to relive your wedding day, even the two of you won't want to watch the entire five-hour play-by-play more than a few times (if that). It's also an easily digestible way to share the day's top moments with guests who couldn't be there. Even if you still want the longer version with all five hours of action, we strongly recommend getting a shorter, more shareable version too.


Don't Include: Raw Footage

Once the filming is finished, some videographers will send you the raw footage (untouched, unedited) to preview before editing begins so you can note scenes that you definitely want to keep or cut, like when your groom's voice cracked while reading his vows to you. If you want to hold on to the raw footage for posterity, your videographer may offer it as part of your package. If it's not included in your package, it's not worth paying the extra fee for the raw footage, which you may never even watch. And if you can't get through the five hours of unedited video, your friends and family certainly won't be able to. Instead, opt for two videos: a highlight reel and a longer, traditional hour-long video of the day.


Do Include: A Second Shooter

There's no doubt about it: Two cameras are better than one. The ability to cut back and forth makes for a more engaging film overall. You get more extensive coverage, too, because each shooter and camera films something different, or at least from a different angle. This is crucial at the ceremony -- they can capture your groom's face as you walk down the aisle toward him! At the reception, they can film your uncle belly-laughing as your dad gives his toast. If you don't have room in your budget for a second cameraman, consider making room for two cameras -- one manned and moving around and the other stationary. This will enable your videographer to get a wide shot of the ceremony and close-ups of the action, and incorporate both into the video.


Special thanks to Lockwood Media Group and Open Eye Media