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Bringing Your Memories To Life
A Guide to Choosing Your Videographer and Planning Your Video
A Guide to Choosing Your Videographer
and Planning Your Video
by David Camara

Having the events of your wedding day professionally videotaped has firmly taken its place alongside photography as a "must".

Anyone who has had their wedding videotaped by a professional will tell you that it is most certainly the best way to relive your wedding day. There is nothing to compare with seeing and hearing your ceremony and reception on video for bringing your memories to life! And as memories fade and people pass from your lives, your videotape will take its place beside your photograph album and wedding gifts as a cherished memento.

Which brings us to the two most-asked questions about planning for a wedding video:

1) How do we choose the best possible videographer for our wedding day?

2) What will we see in our finished, edited tape?

The first question is easily answered by interviewing several professional videographers and viewing their demonstration tapes.

(Don't even consider having your "Uncle Harry" videotape your wedding day! I have heard many tragic stories of how the "helpful" relative or friend missed out on the most special wedding day moments by getting sidetracked or having equipment problems. Gently decline, but make it clear that this "extra" footage will be a welcome addition to your souvenirs. Homemade videos are a great way to enjoy some of the more unusual or private moments of your wedding day.)

First, you must decide on a budget, one that is affordable for you. If you want to spend, let's say, about $800 on your video, don't bother interviewing the companies which normally charge $2,000. Even if they were able to put together a package at your price, you could not expect to see the same results as the $2,000 demonstration tape you viewed. You should stick to your price range and check out as many packages at around $800 as possible. Once you see what you'll get for your money, you can then decide if spending extra money will be worth it to you and investigate higher-priced packages.

Once you have decided on your price range, ask friends who have been recently married who they employed. Ask your photographer musicians who he or she would recommend. Call businesses that advertise in bridal publications and The Yellow Pages as wedding specialists and set up appointments to view samples of their work.

Most professionals are booking video dates from 6 months to 18 months in advance, so don't wait until the last minute to call. You may miss out on the videographer you really want.

As for the "finished product", video goes hand in hand with the other services you've planned for your wedding and a professional videographer will work with your photographer and entertainers to ensure that all events are coordinated and that everything will be perfect.

You'll need to decide how much coverage you'll want and what style you'll want the finished product to have.

All videographers have different styles. Some set up their cameras on tripods, others like to move around with handheld cameras. Single or multi-camera shoots are available. Look around and see whichs style is best suited to your tastes. Something to consider is that the more obtrusive the shoot, the better the final result! Pro video companies have worked hard to find a style which conveys intimacy while still staying off to the sidelines, but remember, the more intimate the shot, the less private the actual moment. And so a common ground must be reached. Decide on the level of coverage you desire for the finished product and make it easy for the camera person by careful planning and utmost cooperation. Decide the point at which you wish coverage to begin (at the bride's house, the arrival at the ceremony, with the entrance, etc.) and end (after the ceremony, after the meal, at the end of the reception) and make up a list of do's and don'ts, must-haves and must-nots.

An experienced professional will be familiar with the area's many churches and reception halls and will be able to carefully plan for any hard to get shots or filming around any restrictions imposed by the clergy or hostess. He should be willing to visit your locations if he has not worked the facilities in the past.

When viewing a demonstration tape, don't be afraid to ask questions: How long has the company been shooting not only videos, but specifically weddings; how many weddings do they shoot per year; how many weddings do they cover simultaneously? Make sure they specifically have wedding experience. Ask what type of videotape is used. Most pros use Super VHS tape because it gives a very high quality picture. Ask if they carry backup equipment (extra cameras, tapes, battery packs, etc.) in case anything goes wrong. Like any other mechanical devices, video equipment is subject to breakdowns, but a professional will always carry backups to save the day!

Ask what would happen if they were sick or otherwise incapacitated on your wedding day. Do they have other personnel or an arrangement with another professional to cover your wedding day?

Some videographers offer special effects that will enhance the production. Graphic titles and picture collages are among the most popular effects, although many more are available.

When speaking with a videographer, ask about their editing practices. Editing is an integral part of the video process and if it's done wrong, or not to your specifications, you could be in for a big disappointment. Editing involves deleting certain segments, selecting the order of appearance of events, and adding in additional music and any special effects. Some videographers will let you decide what gets edited and others will edit as they feel necessary. For a hands-on approach to this process, let your videographer know in advance that you wish to be involved in the decision making process from the rough cut stage to the finished product.

Above all, make sure you feel comfortable with the person you're booking. You'll be spending much time with this person and he'll be privy to many private and intimate moments on the most important day of your life.

Some videographers like to interview your guests for a lighthearted, personalized segment, and this popular feature is a common request. On the other hand, you may prefer a more documentary style with the videographer staying in the background, filming the event as it goes on around them. This is an important style question for you to consider.

You should never feel pressured to book a video (or any other service for that matter) at a first meeting. Have all your questions ready, get the answers, and then go home to discuss it with your fiance(e) and/or wedding party. That's the time to make your decision.

Only live-action video can capture every detail of your special day, from ceremony to last dance, and it will keep bringing your memories to life by preserving the sights and sounds of your wedding forever.

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