A Non-Videographer’s Guide to Wedding Videography

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Few events are so preciously captured for posterity as a wedding. That’s the thing about professional videography: you’ll only have one chance to immaculately document that life-changing occasion in an emotional production you and your loved ones will relive for years with the very same tears of joy welling in your eyes. It costs so much because it is absolutely worth it.

It’s worth it, but sometimes, hopelessly beyond a realistic budget.

That’s the thing about amateur videography: affordable professional-caliber cameras and additional equipment are so widely accessible within the average amateur filmmaker’s budget, that a sizable section of the gap between “well-heeled amateur” and “professional” is now comprised largely of know-how and practice.

And therein lies the beauty of DIY wedding videography. When all’s said and done, you not only have a memorable record of two lives coming together as one before their family and friends, but an impressive production that came together in your own two hands.

 

Keep Things Simple

If you happen to have some superlative gear at your disposal, fantastic – all the better for the production quality, since weddings don’t exactly lend themselves to “second takes” or “reshoots”. However, the most rudimentary consumer photography equipment will do. For starters:

  • At least a five-foot-tall tripod and cell phone tripod mount
  • If you expect nighttime or low-light shots, a video light or at least a fairly strong wide-beam flashlight
  • A mobile battery pack and extra batteries
  • iMovie or Windows Movie Maker for simple, free editing and DVD-burning

Seriously, any camera will do – smartphone, tablet, fancy DSLR, or a basic camcorder. If you’re really feeling bold, arrange for someone with a dependable laptop to both record video and live-stream the ceremony. It doesn’t have to be in ready-for-Blu-ray HD. What matters is that someone is there capturing this moment in a format to last forever.

However, no exceptions: you need at least the one tripod. There’s nothing more awkward than a shaky, unstable homemade wedding video that pairs best with Dramamine, not champagne. As a general rule, if a shot will last longer than 45 seconds, use the tripod and always keep a smartphone mounted on your mobile-ready one nearby for backup.

 

Play Nice

Chances are, you aren’t the only one roaming this undertaking with a camera. If the other person happens to be the professional photographer you’ve hired to take still portraits, communicate openly. The seasoned pro’s guidance just might lead you to a prime spot for great, unimpeded shooting. Just remember to treat the photographer and his or her experienced insight with the utmost respect and keep out of shots under all circumstances.

 

Distance and Movement

Wherever you should set up, make sure you can hear every word being said clearly. The rehearsal is a great time to figure this aspect out. If the venue is wired with microphones and a sound system that projects every whisper beautifully to the back rows, you’re golden anywhere that provides you a clean angle. Otherwise, don’t stray far from the officiant, bride and groom, lest the vows record as muted mumbles.

Once you have your position and your angle, don’t move if you can avoid it. You simply need steady and usable, not artful and moving drama. Once the camera is on and you know it’s recording, you shouldn’t need to move at all and risk shaky, worthless shots. Follow and zoom in or out carefully if needed – i.e., someone slips out of the frame – but otherwise, don’t pan or create “action” shots.

After you begin the recording, don’t stop until well after the end of the ceremony. Follow the same rule at the reception. Start recording before the first dance begins, stop it about 30 seconds after it concludes. Just focus on complete beginning-to-end shots of every special event. You’ll thank yourself for keeping things so elementary once it’s editing time.

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In the end, remember that you’re shooting this day for one reason only, and it at no point will climax with the phrase, “I’d like to thank the Academy.” You’re bound to witness stirring, poignant moments of undeniable love and happiness, from the bride and groom to their family and friends. It’s priceless. What’s more, it never needs to be complicated or expensive to mean the world to someone forever.