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Old March 5th, 2014, 11:49 AM   #1
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Advice for shooting a first time wedding

Hi everyone,

I received an email from someone interested in hiring me to film their wedding. I have done events, short documentaries and model videos but I always steered clear of doing weddings. The wedding isn't until January 2015 but I need to decide soon whether to take the job or not. Other than date and location for the wedding I haven't spoken with the client yet so I'm to come up with a list of questions to ask. If i decide to do it I'll probably have to get together a crew to help me out depending on the size of the wedding I work mostly alone or with the help of my wife or paid helper. What are some important things to consider before taking the offer.? Any suggestions or advice would be appreciated.
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Old March 5th, 2014, 12:16 PM   #2
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Re: Advice for shooting a first time wedding

Hi kajito to start you off.
The venue, the weather, the bride and groom personalities, how many guests, how many staff needed for the amount of money you are getting, work alone or work with three four helpers, what is your role what is theirs, preparation location, grooms location, lighting, equipment, tripods, mono pods, sliders, glide cams, SLR or plain old video camcorder, three camcorders.or one, Long form movie with a trailer, short form movie, medium format. Contingency plans for heavy rain and bright sun, ND filters if you want to stay at 50 shutter speed. Audio, voice recorders or on board wireless lapel mics, direct from the camera or?
What your style will be cinematic or bog standard wedding story, get paid up front before the wedding or wait till after and what deposit she will be paying.
DVD burn, bluray or standard def, 50i or 25p, slow mo or not,
Will you colourise the end product or have the colours pop in camera, How long will the end product be, what does she want. steve


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Old March 5th, 2014, 12:32 PM   #3
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Re: Advice for shooting a first time wedding

My big concerns are:
how much of the day do they want filmed? (getting ready) (ceremony) (reception) (entire dance)
And, if you're filming getting ready, would the very basic establishing shots and staged getting ready shots be enough? Or will you and a 2nd film a lot to get candid material? (for us, that's the difference in material for an 8 minute video or a longer one, and candid shooting means 1 or 2 hours of footage to sort instead of 20 minutes).

How many cameras and crew will you use? I always use 3, and 2 people is a must, but 3 capable people is better.

The edit: what do they want? A straight forward edit that includes the entire ceremony? (easiest for me), a highlight video, and if so, how long? (we make ours 15-20 minutes, but that is what takes the longest in the edit). I always provide both - I make the full length anyway, in order to make a good highlight video.

For me, those are the three biggest factors in pricing.
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Old March 5th, 2014, 12:38 PM   #4
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Re: Advice for shooting a first time wedding

Hi Kajito.

Ok for a start why are they contacting you; you have no track record of of wedding. Is it someone you know or have they been referred by someone you know, or do they know of you from your other work, or have they just come across your name and you're on a list of potentials for them to contact? I say this because although we all started with our 'first' wedding, wedding coverage is not to be taken on lightly especially when it's being paid for. I'd want to know just what they are expecting: do they have a vision they want you to capture or is that what they want you to bring to them (and do you have one?). As with all creative work and especially weddings it's vitally important to try to establish the expected outcome before you even start to ensure you're on the same page and you don't line-up future problems as is evidence in these post often where clients expectations are not the same as the service offered. After that I'd go onto Steve's list and ensure some sort of commitment from them in the way of a deposit before even thinking about engaging a crew and kit.

Good luck and if you decide to go ahead with it I hope you get as much enjoyment and satisfaction out of it as most on here do.
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Old March 5th, 2014, 12:51 PM   #5
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Re: Advice for shooting a first time wedding

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kajito Nagib View Post
Other than date and location for the wedding I haven't spoken with the client yet so I'm to come up with a list of questions to ask.
Firstly, don't take the job unless you can get more experience beforehand. Say, half a dozen weddings as a second shooter or shooting friends' weddings for free. The internet and this forum are full of stories of what might happen otherwise...

If it helps, what I personally do at first meetings is four things: (1) answer any questions they have; (2) make sure they understand the nature of my end products; (3) talk through as much of the day as they have planned as possible; and (4) get a feel for them as a couple. Any questions I ask are basically logistical questions about the day. I'm not trying to sell them on anything.

I guess, before you go into that meeting, it would help if you have a clear idea for your own part of what type of end product you can or will produce, and what you're charging for it.

I used to find the trickiest questions from couples were when they wanted a discount. You don't want to lose the sale, but where can you cut costs? Apart from that, if you've filmed weddings before, you should be able to answer their questions pretty easily.

Quote:
If i decide to do it I'll probably have to get together a crew to help me out depending on the size of the wedding
Size of wedding doesn't matter so much, to be honest. Even if it's a 1,000-person wedding, you can shoot it with one person. Stellios on this forum routinely does so for Greek weddings.

Bigger factors in whether to have one or two videographers include: (1) complexity of wedding -- will you need to be in two places at once, for example; (2) how much gear you're dragging around, and how long it'll take to set up; (3) nature of your own final product -- how many angles do you want, how comprehensive should the coverage be; (4) couples' expectations -- do they want all the dancing to be recorded, for example.

By the way, don't bring an inexperienced second shooter; or, worse still, a second who's inexperienced with cameras in general. You're reliant on their footage. It's probably better to have an unmanned camera than an inexperienced second.

Quote:
What are some important things to consider before taking the offer.?
Your own capabilities and experience. Don't ruin the most important day of someone's life!

The logistics of how to actually do all this -- what to shoot, how to shoot it, how to put it together.

Whether they're going to be a problem couple... because their demands are unrealistic, or you're unable to meet them. Be cautious about any sort of "ethnic" wedding unless you have experience with them, especially Indian and Jewish.

Whether it's worth your time and effort.
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Old March 5th, 2014, 01:13 PM   #6
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Re: Advice for shooting a first time wedding

I agree a bit about approach with caution. Is this a high end, well produced wedding, and if so are you sure you're really interested? Finally , how did she find you? Is it a friend, or friend of a friend, or someone you did business with before? Otherwise (and even if so) I'd suggest admitting you typically don't shoot weddings, and this would likely be your first one. Otherwise, giddy up.

Mostly, its run & gun. Everything happens within less that a minute. Stand around at church waiting for 5 minutes, then bang "Ok, bridal parties coming out now". Same thing with bridal party entrance & cake cutting, people are out dancing then DJ comes on "Ok, direct your attention to the back of the room, they're going to cut the cake now", although entrances theyre typically more ontime with (ie. 7pm). Other advice:

Befriend the photographer, DJ, & house manager/coordinator.
Put a 2nd or 3rd camera towards the back, unmanned. Leave on auto if you just wanna be safe (not just for video but audio too, in case your wireless mic has issues)
Use a wireless mic (obvi)
Overall, imho don't get too risky, unless your comfortable with it (ie handheld shots, steadicam, sliders etc) a bride doesn't want to see missing shots, nor wait around for you to attach your 2nd cam to a steadicam and swap out lenses on it. Me, I get bridal portrait shots while the photog is doing their work & getting their shots. It works for me.
It's a long day, usually 8-10-12 hours when all is said & done, be ready for it. Is it a NYC wedding, be sure your comfortable with city travel & locations. Do you have a car (is parking good nearby), cabbing it, or going with the party in the limo. I like city weddings, but in the burbs they are sooo much more convenient as far as drive in & drive out.
Determine you're out time. I like shooting dance floor footage, and edit into a highlight reel, however there's rarely ever need for me to stay past 11pm, yet I wouldn't want a couple to think I "left early" or "missed all the important stuff" when the "important stuff" was her sister playing leg guitar to ACDC's You Shook Me All Night Long or the Best Man doing the worm...


FWIW it really varies on the individual & their interest level. Your website you seem experienced at video, so that should be fine. Are weddings something you might want to get into? Then I'd say do it. If it's just a fluke one off thing some bride found you thru a google search under "NYC filmmaker" and found your site, it may be best to decline. Unless it's a cousin or friend its really not a once every so often type of thing.

Last edited by David Barnett; March 5th, 2014 at 05:19 PM.
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Old March 5th, 2014, 02:53 PM   #7
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Re: Advice for shooting a first time wedding

Everyone starts somewhere and it's not at the top. You've gotten some good information and advice here. Now having said that let me suggest that you go to the bride and groom and tell them that as much as you'd like to do their wedding you feel it would be in their best interest to NOT do it simply because you are not an experienced wedding videographer but you might be able to help them someone who is experienced and in their price range.
What...you ask. I want to get started in the business you say.
Great, find an experienced wedding videographer and make a deal to work as a 2nd or 3rd camera operator until you've gained the experience to be able to shoot a wedding as lead camera. Why do that you ask? A wedding is a one time, one off event and until you have the confidence to be able to do a wedding properly, stay away at least as a number 1. Remember the couple is counting on you to not miss, to not screw up and to be able to produce a proper finished product so they, their families and friends can watch the finished product without wincing or asking themselves, what was this guy doing.
If you're getting paid or not is irrelevant. What's important is that you feel like you can produce a quality product for the client so they don't feel like they have to go on the ole interweb and cook your goose or feel like they have to make a phone call to you and get all up in your face about the job that you did.
Yeah I could teach my 15 year grandson how to shoot a wedding, but that doesn't mean he'd be any good at it.
If you feel like you really need and want to do this, fine, just make sure the couple understands and knows in detail that it would be the first wedding that you would be doing and that they probably don't want to expect an Oscar winning production. Remember they can't do this again, no yelling cut, and they have certain expectations. If you can't meet them, TELL THEM or don't do the job until you gain more experience.
Up to you and like I said everyone has to start somewhere but If it were me (and it was once 30+years ago) I'd pass. Just sayin'!
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Old March 5th, 2014, 05:03 PM   #8
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Re: Advice for shooting a first time wedding

OK, devil's advocate check in here...

Did they offer to pay you $XXXX.XX for the "job" up front, and they'd send you a check for more, and you'd send the rest on via Western Union to some other "vendor"?

I'm suspicious of a "cold" email solicitation of ANY sort. Phishing scams are one of the oldest "tricks" to scam unsuspecting people out of money, and I'd vote that's what this is, they found your email online, and are trying to see if you're a lollipop (sucker)...

Call me paranoid, but that's my FIRST reaction...


If it is really a legit interest in shooting a real wedding, the above advice should get you pointed in the right direction, and you'll find enough advice here in this forum to make a wedding videographer out of a monkey (OK, I exaggerate a bit, most monkeys would say "I ain't doing THAT!" <wink>). You probably should read a few of the "horror stories" before you decide to jump in... live shooting is sort of something you have to be "cut out for", and it's not for everyone.

There are weddings that are nearly "no brainers" (basic western Protestant ceremony and reception), and there are weddings that will leave you stumbling around mumbling "brains"... You'll want to know the difference before you agree to ANYTHING, just like any "job"!

And as stated above, avoid the "Phish", if that's what it is!
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Old March 5th, 2014, 05:32 PM   #9
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Re: Advice for shooting a first time wedding

Oooh, I want to read the horror stories! Where can I find them?

I constantly forget about the *very* different kinds of weddings some of you film. Not jealous.
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Old March 5th, 2014, 05:38 PM   #10
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Re: Advice for shooting a first time wedding

Horror stories? Well, most things by Tariq kind of make me not want to shoot weddings again.
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Old March 5th, 2014, 05:51 PM   #11
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Re: Advice for shooting a first time wedding

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adrian Tan View Post
Horror stories? Well, most things by Tariq kind of make me not want to shoot weddings again.
Sorry but I have to LOL!

I missed the email part, man I AM getting old, my eye's ain't what they used to be.

RUN do not walk...RUN from this. I agree with Dave. Can't say for 100% that this isn't a scam but I might be willing to bet that it is.

If you really want to learn how to shoot weddings, find someone local to mentor you. You don't need an email for a 2015 wedding to get your feet wet. Personally, I wouldn't touch this with a 10 foot pole.
(I'm letting my cynical side out)
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Old March 5th, 2014, 07:22 PM   #12
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Re: Advice for shooting a first time wedding

Indoor interviews: Lav? Or boomed mic?

Don, from your response in the thread above, I didn't think you were still carrying a ten foot pole!
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Old March 5th, 2014, 07:26 PM   #13
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Re: Advice for shooting a first time wedding

Hi Guys

Even down under we get a few wedding job scams from the UK bride (but actually from Nigeria!) It is usually in the form of "my daughter in London is getting married in Perth ....yada yada" After wanting to book your services they also will ask you if they can pay you extra and then you pay a few other vendors for them and for your help they toss in an extra $1000 for you to keep. They also offer to send ALL the money upfront in a bank certified cheque!!

What happens is the cheque is fraudulent (of course) but cos you are in an overseas country, if take at least 28 days before the bank has told you it's rejected and by that time you have already paid the other "vendors"

If you want to do weddings then really start with a few freebies or tag along with another video guy at a wedding to see what you are getting into!

Chris
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Old March 5th, 2014, 07:35 PM   #14
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Re: Advice for shooting a first time wedding

Tim,
Yeah I still have but can't do anything with it anymore so it sits in my case ;-)

Chris,
You mean you haven't done any Nigerian princesses weddings? Wow, I thought you had. ;-)
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Old March 5th, 2014, 07:51 PM   #15
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Re: Advice for shooting a first time wedding

I advertise through various sources and local paper. My guess is the client watched my demo reel on my website and liked it that's why she contacted me. Whether this is a scam or not I have no way of knowing until I speak with her. I've filmed a few weddings as a hired cameraman but this was 20+ years ago. I won't take on a project that isn't right for me and I always make room for the ones that I am passionate about. I'm always straight with my clients I don't like to be hoodwink or bamboozled so I wouldn't do that with anyone she would definitely know that this is my first wedding. I guess it all boils down to preparation and about clearly communicating with them their expectation. I am not one to shy away from challenges but I do need to do my research. Again thanks for the walk through and the insight very helpful indeed.
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