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Old April 28th, 2014, 05:47 AM   #1
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Overview and Tips for non-standard ceremonies

Hi All

I did another Macedonian Orthodox ceremony on Saturday and remembered the terror doing my first one as they are in a language that you don't understand and are completely different in layout and movements.

Input from other videographers as to what you should be aware of and a very quick run-down of what is entailed would be a huge asset here if we are asked to do say, a Coptic wedding ceremony and have no idea what goes on and they don't have a rehearsal.

Maybe if we get enough contributions Chris Hurd might be able to make it into a sticky for easy reference when we come up with a strange and different Church ceremony and can at least walk in with a little extra bit of insight??

Please feel free to add a short overview of your weddings that are somewhat different from normal.

Chris
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Old April 28th, 2014, 06:08 AM   #2
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Re: Overview and Tips for non-standard ceremonies

Here is some info to arm anyone attempting a Macedonian Orthodox wedding for the first time!

Church Layout : The Church is quite different as the pews only occupy the back half of the floor area but laid out conventionally. The front half has no altar at all just a cloth covered very low (about 3' high) right in the middle of the vacant floor space. The front of the Church has a partition with murals and two doors which lead into the priest's office/storage and there are usually a couple of steps up to it.

Bridal Entry : This is also different! They all come in together following the priest from the entry door! There is no music either so your cue is to hit record as soon as the priest walks in. Don't wait for any music!

Bridal Party Position : This caught me the first time as the ceremony position is between the low table and the congregation and they always face the front so the guests see their backs only and the priest flutters between the table and them.

Camera positions and Audio : As they have their backs to the congregation you have to be right at the front of the Church (between the priests access doors is good but don't block them) and basically shoot towards the people so you see the bridal party faces. The bride and groom say nothing for over an hour in this position and the priest says everything but all in a chant (in Macedonian too!) so you need to mic just the priest ... it's pointless putting on a groom mic!!

Entry Warning : When they come in they pass right by the table and ceremony positions and stand almost on top of you ... I find a static camera is almost impossible here so I squeeze into the corner level with the priest and hand hold!!! This is for the ring ceremony which is done first and runs about 15 minutes!

Main Ceremony : This is all done in the main position noted above and you can shoot with a static camera for the next 45 minutes as they really don't move a muscle... the priest however makes frequent visits to his room so stay clear of his door. They do a crowning ceremony and place a sheet? over the shoulders of the couple and then remove it .... The couple are given bread and wine (nice bread too!) plus the whole wedding party and parents get it too. Husband and wife is much the same as is the kiss.

Exit : The bridal party don't exit from the Church after signing the register ..they line up now facing the people where your camera is (got to move it fast!) and the people come up and congratulate them and exit from a side door so you set up in a normal wedding position for that!!

Hope this helps anyone doing one of these!!!

Chris
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Old April 28th, 2014, 08:03 AM   #3
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Re: Overview and Tips for non-standard ceremonies

Hey Chris,

I've done three Macedonian weddings, all in the same church, same priest, but slightly different from what you describe. Bride and groom definitely did speak in mine, and positions in church were different. Covering everything smoothly was certainly a challenge. I particularly remember a poor photographer in one of them, just running around in confusion, making a huge nuisance of himself and getting in the way, not knowing what was going on or what was happening next.

I like the idea of making a sticky for different cultures. I think that, if you want to cover any ceremony in the best way possible, you should have a plan for each of the events that happen, especially if you're trying to coordinate multiple shooters. A ceremony isn't just processional/ceremony proper/recessional. It's all the little things -- what do you do when the mothers walk up the aisle to light the candles? How do you cover the communion? How do you neatly transition to the registry signing?

Rather than describe (personally, I'm not sure I can understand from a written description), it might be better to show. You know -- here's a video example of a full Macedonian ceremony, here's a full Greek wedding, etc. With the caveat also that there's always going to be differences, depending on church layout, officiant, etc.
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Old April 28th, 2014, 09:11 AM   #4
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Re: Overview and Tips for non-standard ceremonies

My rule for shooting something unfamiliar is very simple.
When in doubt, always have one camera shooting wide.
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Old April 29th, 2014, 02:23 PM   #5
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Re: Overview and Tips for non-standard ceremonies

If anyone has a clip of a Greek Orthodox wedding, posting it up would be most appreciated.

Am shooting one a little later this year. They wont be having a rehearsal so any info to how they run would be great.

Thanks in advance.

Last edited by Matt Brady; April 29th, 2014 at 02:24 PM. Reason: typo
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Old April 29th, 2014, 03:09 PM   #6
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Re: Overview and Tips for non-standard ceremonies

I haven't got a video clip online but I do have this stills gallery which should give you a decent overview of what happens:

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There is very little speaking involved from the bride and groom, nearly all the audio is from the priest and cantor.

Ceremonies are elaborate and quite long. The priests are usually open-minded about allowing photography and video.

Make sure you discuss a detailed timeline with the couple before the day because the various events do not necessarily go in the order in which you might expect e.g. the 1st dance can be early.

Pete
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Old April 29th, 2014, 04:15 PM   #7
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Re: Overview and Tips for non-standard ceremonies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Brady View Post
If anyone has a clip of a Greek Orthodox wedding, posting it up would be most appreciated.

Am shooting one a little later this year. They wont be having a rehearsal so any info to how they run would be great.

Thanks in advance.
FYI I did a Greek Ortho and one strange feature was the couple kinda walked around the altar 3 times in a circle?! I think its around the time its official &/or they shake parents hands. If you're a bit wide shot you'll catch it, but something to look out for, or ask them about.
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Old April 30th, 2014, 06:55 PM   #8
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Re: Overview and Tips for non-standard ceremonies

Hi Matt

Greek Orthodox is much the same as most European Orthodox Churches. The couple don't face the people so make sure you are behind the altar ..you will shoot the priest's head mostly but get the couple's faces! The priest also goes right up to the front centre of the Church to do a sermon so watch for that as you will need to swing your main cam 180 degrees to get him talking. Definitely mic the priest not the groom! He does all the talking and singing and David is correct ..they walk around the altar 3 times (the whole bridal party led by the priest!)

Have a handheld camera ready too ..the ring ceremony is complex and needs a clear shot and they put the rings on and off 3 times.

Chris
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Old May 1st, 2014, 01:29 AM   #9
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Re: Overview and Tips for non-standard ceremonies

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Originally Posted by Matt Brady View Post
any info to how they run would be great.
Firstly... they're usually about 45-60 minutes.

Chris is right about positioning -- you need to be standing on the stage pointing towards the audience. So, you're parallel with the priest, a couple of metres away from him. You're not going to see any faces of the bridal party otherwise. Greek churches will be used to the video guy standing there.

But I'd also stick at least one or two unmanned cameras from the audience's side (maybe from second level of church) because otherwise you might not be able to see the priest's face.

Ask the priest beforehand where you can't stand (usually: raised area just behind the priest is off limits; and you can't cross the carpet running down the centre of stage, so you're more or less stuck in the one spot for duration of the service).

Microphones: usually no readings from Corinthians, etc. Priest talks most of the time. Bride/groom usually say something, but not much. Likely there will also be one to three cantors repeating what the priest says, and up to you whether you want to mic them separately, or rely on church echo. Might be musicians as well.

The various rituals... nothing too fancy. There's walking around the altar three times. Kissing the Bible. The rings thing and the crown thing. Can't remember if there's a tying-hands-together thing. Signing registry. Usually guests line up and congratulate at the altar. Then recessional.

If you're awake, and you have a safety wide to cut to, you should be fine for capturing the action.

By the way, Greek weddings might be my favourite type. Great food, and everyone's camera-friendly. Good luck!
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Old May 1st, 2014, 03:04 AM   #10
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Re: Overview and Tips for non-standard ceremonies

They are quite easy! The last one I did the priest did all the ceremony stuff in front of the couple but he did walk up to the stage (our Church, the stage was just one step up and only 4' wide before you hit the decoration panels) He did a sermon from there ...it was in Greek so I had no idea what he was saying!

Matt? the priest from time to time will vanish thru a panel in the Church to do something so just keep filming, he will emerge shortly!! I normally put a GoPro at the Church entrance to get a wide shot and an overall ambience and yes, Adrian is right, you cannot cross the Church at all during the ceremony but it's OK to walk across for the register signing. I tend to setup a main camera so it favours the bride rather than the groom and then use the second camera to shoot cutaways from the side of the Church of the guests.

Apart from that they don't have any nasty surprises and have great receptions ..they are very straight forward ..much like any other. Make sure you go to the rehearsal!! You can then talk to the priest and he will tell you where you can go and not go!!

Chris
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Old May 2nd, 2014, 03:16 AM   #11
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Re: Overview and Tips for non-standard ceremonies

Thanks for the tips on how it will run. Cheers, gents!!
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