With all the planning, anticipating, and spending today's couples do to build the wedding of their dreams, it's hard to imagine how quickly it will flash by come the big day. I've often joked about my own wonderful wedding, saying that I had a great time, from what they tell me!
One of my dearest friends is the fourth generation owner/photographer of the oldest photography studio in North America. They opened their doors back in 1886. With this in mind, it's easy to see why hiring a professional photographer to photograph a wedding is a given - this is the third century in which they've worked. The videographer, on the other hand, has only had about twenty years to make a mark. Though we've all grown so used to the convenience of recorded video programming, it seems impossible to think the industry is so young.
When a bride and groom embark on a plan to celebrate their nuptial vows, they ought to give serious consideration to what will become of all their plans when the day has passed. I am a huge proponent for flowers, wedding cakes, etc., yet experience has and will continue to show that in the years to follow, the photographs and video will remain the only true investments the couple had made in their wedding.
As an twenty-year veteran of wedding videography, I can tell you that even those of us who do this for a living are in constant awe of the technological advances at every curve, and I am thankful for what our powerful new tools allow us to do. It is not uncommon for a prospective customer to be in tears in my presentation room, as they look at a demo. Imagine the impact their own video will have!
When shopping for a wedding videographer, there are some pitfalls a bride and groom need to be careful of. In particular, it is surprisingly common for a couple to set a budgetary figure in mind to spend on a video, yet without having researched it. I am often perplexed when a bride tells me she's going to spend, say, $1500 on her video, but when asked how she came to that figure, it is revealed that it is merely an arbitrary number- a guess.
Today's wedding videos range in price dramatically, and there is likely a videographer to fit every bride's budget. However- if you like the idea of high-quality digital video, a fully-authored DVD complete with motion menus and thumbnail chapters, produced by a seasoned professional who is serious about providing you with a program similar to what you see on The Learning Channel's A Wedding Story, expect to budget $2000-$4000 or more.
One of the banes of selling my product to an engaged bride continues to be that she seems to clearly recognize that the quality of today's video blows away what her sister had seven years ago, yet she expects to pay the same. While we used to shoot with cameras in the $1500 range, most serious pros now wield cameras in the 5-10 thousand-dollar range, with some shooters opting for even higher-end gear. A camera like that is typically a boat anchor within 3-4 years, having grown obsolete, and all of the above applies to editing technology as well.
With these facts known, one ought to expect that the costs of well-produced video have and likely will continue to increase accordingly. One good way to understand the nature of your video, as an investment is this: if you spend ten percent of your wedding budget on your video, it will give you back over ninety percent of your wedding memories. Plus, there is no more effective way to share your wedding day with your children and their children.
Which brings me to another of the major pitfalls, and the one I understand the logic of least. Some brides decide to save some money by having a friend tape the wedding. Somehow, there is some assumption here that owning a camcorder is the only prerequisite to creating a wedding day motion picture. Beyond the aforementioned technology issues, a couple needs to understand that there is a vast difference between home video and professional videography. Does your friend have back-up equipment? How about high-band wireless microphones? Does he have appropriate battery power? Does he have a clue about wedding schedules or house of worship protocol?
Besides, if you have friends with a 35mm camera, why hire a photographer? Your mom has a sewing machine- why pay all that dough for a gown? Absurd ideas, of course, but no more so than expecting to be able to get a high quality wedding video from an amateur with a camcorder. Also, I'm not especially keen on companies who offer multiple services under one roof. No offense intended to them- many of them are indeed my friends. I just think it's better to pick one thing and do it right. When a bride tells me she's thinking of having her photographer's studio do the video at a savings, I usually say that if you hire me, I'll clean your teeth. It's that different.
One more thing to be clear on when shopping is whether or not you are meeting with the videographer who's work is on the demo, and who will actually be shooting your wedding. Some studios have a staff of shooters; others are based around one specific producer. There is certainly more than one right answer; you just need to figure out which answer is right for you.
The best place for any bride or groom to start researching video options is by going online and visiting the sites of professional video associations. The National Professional Videographers Association, one of the oldest and largest in the country is based in the Boston Area. Visit them at www.npva.org. The Wedding and Event Videographers Association International can provide a wealth of info, and can also steer you to a an organization in your area. See them at www.weva.com.
The wonderful thing about any trade association is that it encourages the sharing of knowledge, which leads to the professional growth of their members. The videographers who are active within these groups are apt to be the most savvy, and that translates as greater service and better video for you.
By Eugene DiFrancesco
Eugene DiFrancesco is a long time, Senior Member of the NPVA of Massachusetts and has served as President of the organization for several terms