A picture is worth a thousand words, so take a moment to consider the value of 29.97 pictures a second. That's the frame rate on most video cameras, and videographers are more than happy to capture your wedding or special day with true-to-life detail. Even if you're already hiring a photographer, a video adds a layer of realism so you can better relive your memories.

Finding the Right One

Have you already hired a photographer? Many photographers team up with videographers and are happy to recommend people they enjoy working with. Ask your other event vendors and venue, as well as friends and family who have married or hosted events lately. There's no substitute for a personal recommendation.

Look for videographers who specialize in your type of event. The kinds of shots required for a wedding and a corporate event, for example, are very different, and someone who excels at one may fumble with another.

Be sure you hire a professional, not a hobbyist. Ask what professional associations they belong to. Look at any videography reels they offer. But be aware: before you commit, ask to see a completed video in its entirety, to make sure they're not masking sub-par footage with a "best-of's" reel. Be sure to ask how long they've been in business, and whether they can give you previous client recommendations.

Of course, amateurs can be talented, too. If you like what you see with their video samples, you may be able to score a much cheaper price from someone who's just starting to build their portfolio than from a seasoned professional. But avoid hiring family members who aren’t exceptionally talented; will you ever forgive them if they leave the lens cap on during your wedding kiss?

When viewing videographers' reels or sample videos, pay attention to all aspects of the product. Is it available electronically or on DVD? Do the DVD menus look nice? Is the picture not too light, dark, or blurry? Are the transitions smooth and un-cheesy? Can you clearly understand what people are saying? Make sure to view several examples of their videos so you know the quality is consistent.

You might consider hiring a videographer from another state to save money. Counterintuitive as it may seem, prices vary wildly by region. Sometimes the cost of hiring a videographer and paying for their travel costs is still less expensive than hiring someone locally.

Be sure you're satisfied with all of the details before you hire anyone. How many assistants and what equipment will they bring? What clothing will they wear? Do they have technical requirements, such as available outlets or lighting? How long do they need to set up? Will the videographer who comes to your event be the same one whose reels you have seen? Try to hire the owner of the company whenever possible.


Working with your Videographer


Meet with your videographer to create a shot list before the event. Are there any things you absolutely want to catch on tape? Are there specific angles? Your videographer needs to be instructed in order to be in the right place at the right time. Likewise, if Aunt Betsy refuses to be caught on her "bad side," your videographer should know that, too.

The same editor can make two very different films out of the same footage. Likewise, your videographer can focus on different aspects of your wedding. Let them know if you want to feature romance, family, or humor, or even details like the bride's shoes. Choice of music also makes a big difference in the mood of the video, so give a thought to your preference.

Videos are usually shot in a cinematic or documentary ("fly on the wall") style. Cinematic styles are less expensive because the shots are pre-planned and take less editing time, but documentary styles are more likely to catch impromptu and surprise events. You can ask for a combination of the two styles.

Your videographer should be happy to give you as much or as little guidance as you need. Ask them for their ideas, but also tell them you expect your requests to be followed. You don't want someone who "knows better" to end up missing the point at your own event.

Make sure your videographer knows your event's start and end times, and whether there is a likelihood of anything running late. You don’t want to risk your videographer having to leave early, and you don’t want to get stuck with hefty overtime fees.

How many cameras do you want your videographer to bring? If there will be simultaneous things you want to capture (like you saying your vows while your mother dabs her eyes), you'll need at least two. The more complex the camera package, the higher the price, but the more thorough the coverage.

Your videographer should be happy to work alongside your other vendors. Your photographer, for example, will be posing people and orchestrating shots, so your videographer shouldn't interfere or get in the way. You can arrange a meeting between your videographer and other important people (like your planner, officiant, or emcee) ahead of time, so they can signal when video-worthy events are about to begin.

Make sure you and your videographer agree on what format the final video will be, and if there are any charges for extra copies. DVDs are popular, but you can also get the video in electronic form, either on a hard drive or over the Internet. Be sure the DVDs or files will be compatible with your entertainment system.

Videographers generally charge a flat fee ($1,000-$5,000 is average, varying by level of experience and skill), and you can tip them afterward if you're pleased with the job. Plan to spend anywhere from five to ten percent of your budget on a good wedding videographer.

Editing the video to completion can take anywhere from a few days to a few months, depending on the complexity of your requests (like special effects and amount of footage). There's no set rule, but you'll want to work out what to expect ahead of time so you're not left waiting.
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David Ruszkowski | Report Abuse

I thought that one thing that was overlooked in this article is sound. The audio, during the vows for example, is just as important as the video.

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Gaea | Report Abuse

That is a very good point and absolutely true. Thank you!

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Tara Davis | Report Abuse

I second what Angel said. I want to know I've hired a professional!

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Angel Clausson | Report Abuse

One more thing I would like to say about video or just vendors in general.... As a former bride, I loved working with local vendors and artists that offer their clients a more personalized experience. No offense to the corporate world, but I can't stand waiting through automated options, and being referred to as a "date" rather than a name. Its my practice as a professional, to make myself personally available to my clients. They can contact me via email, phone, even texting anytime, and they feel comforted that they know who they are hiring when they sign their contract.

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Angel Clausson | Report Abuse

A big difference between hiring a professional videographer versus a family member or friend... A videographer's only mission is to capture the best quality of video and sound possible, and produce an amazing video for you. Most guests will play around with the camera a bit and try to get most of the important parts, but not all the little things. If you like a raw footage, candid style- you might like this. Professional videographers edit their videos, and create a clean, finished product. A videographer will deliver your custom DVD in a custom case, where a friend might get you the tapes sometime when they remember where they put the tape.. hopefully not! Most family and friends sitting in the fourth row will not get the best shot from a shaky standard minicam. A professional will use a tripod to keep the footage stable, and is not too shy to get the best view possible without being obtrusive. The audio from your friend's camera will be lost to the baby sobbing two rows back, whereas a professional will use wireless microphones and can tune down the baby's cries. Hands down, a professional videographer is an invaluable service to have at your special event... they own and maintain professional, high quality equipment, and they create a gift that will last generations, which is priceless.

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Cassie Macklin | Report Abuse

My father offered to video our wedding, but I'm not sure he's got the professional skill for it. I'm going to give him this article.

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