Couples usually make their choice for wedding videography based on one or more
of these considerations:
Performance and Personality
Do you know which of these considerations are most important to you? How do you
decide? The following tips will help you determine what you want to base your
wedding videography choice on, and how to best ensure your considerations are
The fact that you are reading this article means you have some interest in a
wedding video, but just how interested are you?
What ‘Priority’ rating would you give Wedding Videography?
Low Medium High
If you said ‘High’ then move on to the ‘Price’ section, otherwise keep reading.
Many people place a low priority on video relying on their minds and their still
photographs to preserve the memories of the day. Well, forget about our minds
being a great vault for memories, just think back on any great event in your
life. Say high school graduation. How many quotes can you remember of what
people actually said? How many actual moments of that entire day can you recall
in perfect detail? See what I mean, we remember the day but almost no specific
details. If it is worth remembering it is worth having a good video of it.
Having a bad or insufficient wedding video can be worse than no video at all.
Whatever a video shows will become your lasting memory of that event. Consider
your own family films and video. Isn’t what you remember of those past events
mostly what the camera captured on tape? A wedding video that is disappointing
in its representation of your day will be a disappointment for the rest of your
life; it may almost be better in that instance to not have a video at all!
The best way to determine your priority is to project yourself into the future.
It’s easier than you think, you actually do it most every time you make a
purchase. Whether you are buying a sweater or a car you imagine yourself with
the product and then you imagine yourself without it. You think about what the
object will do for you and how you will feel without it. If it is a sweater we
are talking about, the process is almost subliminal; but if it is a car, why it
is almost an adventure drama we go through! So buckle your seat belts because
here we go. Fast-forward to a day 2 weeks after the wedding.
The money has all been spent, the day went by in a flash (just like everyone
said it would) and you still have some pretty vivid memories of your own, but
already you can’t remember hardly anything that was said during the ceremony
itself. At least you have your still photography. Within the 300 prints are a
mix of candids and formals, but mostly candid shots of you two, your family and
friends. From those proofs you will choose your favorite photos to blow up and
that will become your wedding album. The one and only record of your day. If the
album contains 120 photos (that would be a huge album) then you will have a
permanent record of about 2 seconds of your entire day. That’s right, 2 seconds!
Each photograph is an exposure of a fraction of a second in time (about 1/60th
of a second). Of course these photos were taken over the course of the day and
cover all the days events, but only a second or two of each event is actually
captured. One second of your entire ceremony, one second of your entire
reception. None-the-less, the photos look great.
OK, now how do you feel? Do you see yourself satisfied and content with what you
have? Or do you feel a little anxious? Are you a little disappointed that you
don’t have more or are you fine with the fact that the only image of your spouse
as you exchanged vows is a still one? Your friends and family too are captured
on film but frozen, not exuberant like they were just before the ceremony and at
the reception. Are you OK with that? If you are then your expectations are ‘Low’
and can be met by any friend or family member. Save your money for the honeymoon
and save your time...don’t bother reading the rest of this article.
If you feel your expectations are for more than photography alone can deliver,
then your expectations are ‘Medium’ to ‘High’, keep reading.
Most of our clients have a ‘High’ priority for video but occasionally we have a
couple (or sometimes just the groom) who really don’t want a video but are
getting one because their parents or friends say they must. These are among my
favorite clients because they are the ones who write me great letters after the
wedding day saying, “We can’t believe we almost didn’t have a wedding video,
IT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT MONEY WE SPENT FOR OUR WEDDING!” (I literally have
dozens of letters like this in my studio.) Chances are you may be saying these
same words 2 weeks after your wedding.
Percentage of the Budget
The price you are willing to spend for any service or product should be equal to
the importance you place on that service or product. You have already decided
that a wedding video is important to you, but it is only one of many things you
have to budget for. You have probably already figured out that most of what you
spend your wedding budget on is for the benefit of your guests; nice ceremony
and reception locations, attractive decor and decorations, food, drink and
entertainment. Even though you will share these things with your guests and
despite the fact that this is your big day, none of these things are
specifically for you. Your appearance, your photography and your videography are
the sole exceptions; these are things you are buying for your pleasure. Of these
three things, only photos and your wedding video will exist after your wedding,
everything else will be enjoyed or consumed in one glorious day.
So photography and videography, being the only lasting expense for your wedding,
may deserve a high priority when it comes to a percentage of the budget. Unless
food, flowers and other perishables are more important than memories...that is
for you to decide.
The price you can pay for a wedding video will span the range from ridiculously
low to eye-popping high. Why the large range? The wedding video world can be
divided into 3 basic levels; Amateur or part-time hobbyist, Upstart and mixed
services companies, and Full-Time experienced production companies. Generally
speaking the more a videographer invests into his company and craft the more his
product will be worth. Professional office environment, full-time staff,
association memberships, insurance; there are many investments a videographer
might make that won’t affect the look of your wedding video directly. However,
those investments make have value to you in other ways, such as turn-around time
or customer service during your relationship with your video company. There is a
reason why a Lexus costs more than a Volkswagen even though they both get you
from ‘A’ to ‘B’ just fine. Do you want a Volkswagen video or a Lexus experience?
A recent survey placed the average price for a wedding video at around
$1,900.00. Prices vary across the country based on demographics, economics and
other factors. For most urban markets $1,700.00 should be considered a bottom
line price for the most basic of services. $2000.00 to $3000.00 would be a
competitive price for a good quality wedding video with high production value.
Wedding Videography Packages and Prices
Performance is a sum of the parts; Quality, Style and Experience.
I am going to give you my key point for Quality right up front because it could
save you a lot of reading and confusion. Here it is; don’t use your limited
understanding of video technology to try and determine if a wedding videographer
is showing you quality work...use your senses!
Use your eyes and ears. If the image looks good to you, then the quality of
video is good enough, it doesn’t matter what cameras were used. If you can hear
everything you want to hear clearly then the audio is good enough too. Your
wedding video will be a feast for your senses just like your wedding cake will
be. You won’t ask your baker what hemisphere his sugar is imported from or which
frosting bag tips he prefers to use when making frosting roses, you are going to
use your eyes and your taste buds. Why then ask your videographer about his
choice of editing systems? There is only one caution to this approach, get
assurances from the videographer that what you are seeing is what you can expect
your wedding video to look like. If your event is indoors at night and you are
only seeing beautiful outdoor ceremonies that isn’t a fair representation. You
should see samples of day and night, indoor and outdoor events to get a feel for
the videographer’s abilities in varying circumstances. Ask whatever questions
you need to in order to be assured that what you see is what you get. If you
still feel you want to know more about video technology then keep reading
otherwise move on to the Style section.
Since video is produced by humans using electronic devices the end result
depends on the quality of both of the elements creating it. We will cover the
‘Quality’ of the wedding videographer later, right now lets talk ever so briefly
about the technological factors that affect quality. Acknowledge your
limitations in trying to learn ‘all about video.’ It takes the professionals you
are interviewing years to master their trade, don’t think you can develop a
useful understanding in a few minutes. That said lets first talk about cameras.
Most consumer video cameras use one microchip (CCD) to capture an image and
translate that image to tape. Professional cameras use three CCDs (one for each
color signal; Red, Green and Blue). Three CCDs, or “chips” as they are called,
are better than one. Having 3 chips isn’t the last word because some chips only
have 210,000 active pixels (the tiny light sensitive elements that capture the
light and collectively define the detail of the picture) while others have over
400,000. Again more is better. Also, the size of the chip matters the smaller
the camera generally the smaller the chip and that means less performance. Chips
vary in size from 1/3, to 1/2 to 2/3 of an inch, bigger is better.
Consumer video cameras and many professional level cameras have small, internal
lenses. High-End Professional cameras usually have large, external lenses. The
size of the camera does not define whether it is of professional caliber, but
the size of the lens and the chips usually does. While a professional camera
with an external lens produces the best images, it’s size can hinder the
creativity of the videographer. These cameras are normally used with tripods,
not designed to be carried around for an entire day capturing spontaneous
moments here and there. The presence of a large camera and all of it’s support
gear could be too intrusive for some couples. Smaller hand-held professional
cameras have been developed specifically for the event and wedding videographer.
These cameras deliver excellent quality and allow for maximum creativity and
quick response. A videographer with a smaller camera may look more like a guest
with a camera and less like a production crew.
3 chips cameras are a must for superior color rendition and image detail.
Cameras with larger external lenses produce images of better image resolution
than cameras with small, internal lenses. However, hand-held, 3 chip cameras
designed for wedding videography produce quality well above consumer level and
allow the wedding videographer to be creative, spontaneous and unobtrusive.
There are more than a dozen videotape formats available, and the only ones worth
considering are digital. Gone are the days, and the wedding videographers, using
VHS, SVHS or 8mm videotape.
Most wedding videographers are recording on the DV (Digital Video) format. Other
good professional digital formats are DVCAM and Digital-S. These are all part of
the SD (Standard Definition) level of video technology.
A new higher quality format is available known as HD (High Definition). Both are
digital and therefore offer excellent quality but HD, by some estimates,
represents a substantially better picture than SD. The cost of a wedding video
produced in the HD format is likely to be substantially higher than that of an
SD wedding video. Many professionals consider current HD cameras not light
sensitive enough to be a good choice for wedding videography coverage.
Your wedding video will have professional level image detail if the videographer
is recording and editing on any digital format.
If your event is indoors your videographer will need to use a light, even if
their camera is good in low light conditions. If they don’t use a light indoors,
the quality will be sub-standard. If their cameras are not low-light sensitive
they may have to use bright lights to compensate. This will make for good video
but at the cost of being a bit obtrusive during the event. Camera light
sensitivity is rated in ‘lux’ units, unfortunately, there is no common standard
among manufacturers. Nonetheless, a lux rating of 4 or less is OK, 2 lux or less
and the videographer will require only minimal lighting. Most of today’s
professional level cameras work very well in low-light conditions. This is not
the concern it was, even 5 years ago.
The video cameras used to record your day should work well in low-light
conditions, having a minimum lux sensitivity rating of 4 lux or less. However
the best HD camera available has a rating of 7 lux.
Realize that your finished wedding videotape is more than just that, it is an
audiotape as well. The audio portion of your video is equally important to the
video and in some instances more important. Most video cameras come with
adequate on camera microphones (mics) that work well for capturing the sound
directly in front of the camera. The challenge occurs when the camera is not
near the source it is trying to record, or when the background noise is as loud
or louder than the source we are interested in. Mics that attach to the camera
with a cable (wired mics) can extend the audio reach of the camera but are
restricted to the length of the cable. Wired mics are not the best choice for
wedding videography because they are unsightly and cumbersome. Wireless mics
capture sound from a remote mic and transmit it through the air back to a
receiver on the camera, these are the best choice for wedding videographers. For
example, at the ceremony a wireless mic can be worn by the groom and/or
wedding officiant. As you may have guessed, not all wireless mics are created equal.
Their function, quality, ability and of course price vary across a wide range;
from low-end VHF units for $50 to high-end true diversity UHF units for over
Wireless microphones are a must for quality audio. While low-end systems work
satisfactorily in some cases, a mid range diversity VHF or UHF system will
deliver good sound, reliably.
With scores of editing systems on the market there is really no way to discuss
the differences between systems, formats and components, and no real reason to
either. What is important is that your video is edited and that certain basic
editing techniques and features are used. First off, lets explain what editing
is. Every wedding videographer will record the day on a tape that is referred to
as the raw footage (or, original, source or uncut version). The videographer
‘edits’ the tape by choosing which images or scenes he wants to transfer to a
new tape or disc called the edited Master. Most wedding videographers today are
using the state-of-the-art, non-linear process. In this process a computer with
special hardware and software replace the tape decks and peripherals of the
traditional linear editing systems of the past.
“In Camera Editing” is NOT editing at all. It is a term used by wedding
videographers who do not use an edit system but try to simulate the effect of
editing by selectively choosing on your wedding day which shots to record and
which shots not to. It is, as it sounds, simply deciding when to hit the record
button and when not to. While this technique is a very good one for creating
interesting video, it alone cannot produce a video with all of the flair and
features that an edited video possesses.
While a whole lot more could be said about editing, let it suffice to say, that
your wedding video will be much more entertaining and fun to watch if it is
edited. Conversely, if your video isn’t entertaining and fun to watch, why have
one? Pay for an edited wedding video or don’t pay for one at all.
Style can describe the personal camera techniques used by your videographer when
recording your wedding, or the techniques he uses when editing your finished
Camera styles vary from videographer to videographer but certain standards
apply. The image should be stable and in focus most of the time. Some exceptions
should be allowed for efforts by the videographer who is trying to capture live
action, on the move as it is happening. Better to get the shot that shows some
focus adjustment than to have missed the shot because the wedding videographer
was trying to move his tripod. Speaking of tripods, they are a must for stable
results during lengthy parts of the day (i.e.: the ceremony) but should be
abandoned during the rest of the day to allow the videographer to be fluid and
reactive. Experienced wedding videographers should be expected to produce steady
work without the use of a tripod for short periods of time (under 10 minutes at
a time). Limited zooming and panning with the camera is a sign of a professional
videographer. Multiple angles and perspectives of a scene or event is another
professional feature which can only be obtained with multiple cameras.
Editing styles also vary among wedding video producers. From classic film
techniques to the latest MTV music video look. There is no ‘best’ style, it
strictly depends on what appeals to you. That said, you need to consider what
you are basing your appeal on. Some couples think that techniques that
incorporate lots of special effects and manipulations of the video image may be
appealing when viewed on a demo tape. These same effects may not be so neat when
they are a permanent part of your finished video. Over time you may find the
special effects silly, distracting, over-done and dated. What looks ‘cool’ today
may look ‘cheesy’ tomorrow and even date your video just as much as hairstyles
and lapel widths. Others find this approach flashy, modern and ‘professional
looking’. Our brides and grooms prefer a video that is produced using time
tested movie techniques. The kind of understated style that is used by major
movie and broadcast producers to tell their stories. This proven style may not
be as flashy but will likely hold its appeal over generations.
Two videographers or just one? This is a very big Style question and a Value
question as well because a company that uses two videographers will most often
cost more than a company that uses just one. By using two videographers and
multiple cameras your video will be able to show multiple perspectives of all
the events as well as simultaneous coverage from different locations. This
approach produces results like those seen on television and movies and raises
the character of the wedding video from mere documentary to that of a dramatic
presentation. Because this style of production requires twice the man power and
at least double the equipment not every wedding video production company will be
able to offer this level of service.
When considering style, consider both what appeals (or doesn’t appeal) to your
senses immediately; and what may be appealing (or not) the 5th, 10th and 20th
time you and your family watch the wedding video.
This is an easy subject. The more experience your videographer has producing
videos of weddings like yours the better. Note I didn’t say, “the more
experience your videographer has,” period. A professional, talented and
experienced television producer would have just as tough a time producing a good
wedding video, as a wedding videographer would producing a TV show. All videos
are not the same animal. You want a videographer with as much wedding experience
as possible and hopefully with weddings like yours. Perhaps even at the same
locations or under the same circumstances or even working with the same vendors
as you will have.
The more experience your videographer has producing videos of weddings like
yours the better.
I don’t have to say much about this issue, it is inherent in us all that we will
gravitate to some personalities and run from others. Listen to your instincts
about the person and the company you are considering. From first phone call
through out your first meeting, listen to your gut reaction to the things that
are said, what is presented and how. You will probably know in the first few
minutes what your decision will be.
Some good questions to ask yourself are.
Is this someone I want to work with, and can work with, through the process of
creating my wedding video?
What is important to this videographer (what do they emphasize and talk most
about)? Is that what is important to me?
Do they talk more about what they can do for me, or more about what I want? How
does that make me feel? Confident or concerned?
Of course you can only evaluate the person you have contact with. If it is a one
man operation that is fine, but if the company has more than one principal what
then? With larger video companies that have more than one person involved it
will not be likely or practical to meet everyone involved. The person shooting
or editing your wedding video may not be the person who meets with clients. That
is fine as long as you feel good about the person representing the company that
you are meeting with. You don’t meet everyone at the reception facility either
and they are going to have more contact with you and your guests than the
videographer will on your wedding day. A good videographer shouldn’t have to say
more than 2 words to you on your wedding day. Unlike a photographer who
interacts with you, touching and posing you, a videographer should be hands-off
and mouth-shut capturing the day, not directing it. You do want to be sure of
one thing though; that the work you have been shown was shot by and is
representative of, the videographer(s) who will be taping your day. Meeting the
actual videographer and actual editor is really no more necessary than meeting
your food servers, chef or limo driver.
You should have a good gut feeling about the company and the representatives you
meet and talk with on the phone.
Ask your photographer, coordinator, church and reception catering manager for a
wedding videographer referral. This is the best way to find the names of good
videographers, if one of your other wedding professionals has a company they can
recommend there are probably good reasons why they recommend one company over
another in your area.
Past bride referrals are a good tool. Ask your friends and associated for a lead
on a good wedding videographer. Asking a videographer that you are interviewing
for the names of some of their past clients that you may call. Won’t really help
much Of course no professional is going to refer you to one of their past
clients unless they know the bride will have something good to say. Stick with
referrals from others you trust.
A good reputation within the industry can be reassuring. Ask your facility
representative, coordinator and other wedding professional for a recommendation.
These are the people who would have worked with the videographer the most and
seen them in action more than once.
In the wedding industry as a whole many vendors work out of their home,
videography is no exception. Don’t discount a company because they are home
based, there is nothing about an industrial park studio location that represents
an advantage over a home based studio.
Wedding videography companies differ in what they will show you as a sample of
their work. Some may show a copy of an actual wedding, others may show you a
sampling of their work. Seeing a copy of an actual wedding may sound like a good
idea, but many videographers customize their work for each client. Viewing
someone else’s wedding video may be just that – some other couple’s video and
may not represent the videographer’s preferred approach or what they could do
for you. Whatever you are shown should satisfy you that the videographer has a
style that you like, if it doesn’t then move on. When you finally see what you
are looking for you’ll know it. Assume that what you see is what you get. The
work you are shown should be representative of the results you can expect. You
don’t have to see a video shot in your church and at your reception venue to
know if you should choose a company. You should, however, see work shot under
the same conditions as you will have; indoors or outdoors, daytime or nighttime,
From The Authors
Ashley Video Productions
We produced this guide in an effort to promote and to raise the standard of
wedding videography for the benefit of the industry at large and brides and
grooms everywhere. The tips we have shared will lead you to a choice that will
do one thing, meet your expectations. If expectations are met then everyone
benefits. Since wedding videography is a technical art, consumers have
traditionally had difficulty evaluating their options with their limited
understanding of the medium. With the short education you have received here,
hopefully you will be better able to shop for videography and make an educated
decision. In the process wedding videographers will be forced to address the
important issues and hopefully only those offering quality and value will
Who is Ashley Video Productions
First of all you need to know that even though we are experienced, qualified
video professionals we don't put a lot of emphasis on our equipment or our
technical ability. More important to us is or emphasis on service and our
knowledge of people. We chose wedding videography as a career because we wanted
to use our talent in a field that would allow us to work with and serve people
in a social environment, not a corporate one. Many video professionals view
wedding videography as a step up the video ladder to "more important" work like
corporate or commercial productions. We on the other hand LOVE recording
weddings and could not think of a more important or rewarding challenge than
creating what will ultimately become someone's cherished family heirloom.
We enjoy using our creativity in subtle ways that show people and their
experiences naturally. Our videos tell a story just as a writer would, the story
of your wedding day. They are more detailed, thought out and comprehensive than
a mere videotape. Just as a writer uses descriptive phrases and adjectives to
describe a setting and help the reader visualize a moment, we use images and
scenes to portray an experience. The people featured are revealed, the details
big and small are exposed, the experiences of those present are shared by the
viewer. We capture not only actions, but reactions, not just motions but
emotions. We don't just videotape what is happening in front of us we seek out
all elements of the moment and combine them artfully to portray the full
experience. That is why we are known as the Emotion Picture Studio.
Any company can tape your day and give you a video of it. There are scores of
videographers in Southern California to choose from. Some are professional
corporate producers who also do weekend events, others are amateurs, who have
successfully taken advantage of the increasing interest in wedding videography
to practice their avocation. There are of course several dedicated videographers
who specialize in taping weddings. Most of these legitimate wedding videography
companies rely on technology rather than talent and creativity to qualify their
work as "professional." Ashley Productions is none of the above. Admittedly
utilizing the advantages of professional equipment, technology and training may
qualify a person as a professional but it does not guarantee a valuable wedding
video and it is not what we at Ashley Productions place a value in nor base our
How do we do all of this . . .? As I said before, we know people. We understand
why people enjoy looking at photo albums, and hearing stories and reading books
and watching movies . . . it is all about sharing and reliving wonderful
experiences. It is not about two channels of stereo sound or 3 chip broadcast
cameras or 14 to 1 telephoto zoom lenses but it is about capturing the moments
of our lives. We at Ashley Productions are more in the memory business than the
video business and it is to capturing memories that we have dedicated ourselves
and our talents.
We appreciate your consideration. Thank You.