Please hire a Professional wedding DJ.
I can't stress this enough, or make enough social media videos regarding this, but It's fresh on my mind again and things that need to be discussed. When brides invest in wedding videography, a lot of our content and product depend on a wedding dj who has awareness on the entire day.
I recently worked with a dj (one of the bigger companies) who will hire anyone, he didn't realize that a handheld microphone would sound far superior than a small lapel on the officiant. If a bride and groom speak into a handheld vs an officiant wearing a microphone it's going to sound much superior, now the officiant also saying "well I don't feel like holding anything because I just don't want to" is also a slap in the face, brides are investing in great sound.
This DJ also went right into speeches even though we had told him two different occasions, we need 10 minutes to check lighting, sound and setting the scene for proper speeches. Sadly the entire maid of honor speech was missed and the lighting was professional and the sound wasn't a top tier quality.... all of this could have been avoided with hiring the right DJ. When a DJ just starts announcing things and nobody is ready, all this does is create loss of product for our couples. I offer discounts for working with DJs who understand this aspect of the day.
Things brides can do in order to get the most bang for their buck. Enjoy!!
1. Makeup - This is by far the biggest issue come wedding day. I've covered this topic over and over and over and I've made video's about this. So many wedding videographers immediately get discouraged because makeup is where we can get a lot of unique shots, the creative stuff that wows brides - when your artist has you in a dark corner, with no room and refuse to move for us the entire process is gone. Fake makeup doesn't work for video - we cannot film a clean brush next to your face that's being held still, videographers need motion and need it to be applied it great light, it honestly blows my mind 95% of the time this doesn't happen....also we need space behind your MUA to maneuver around, again this happens way too much. 75% of the makeup being applied is creative shots - unique looks. 25% of the makeup we film is the finishing touches because we want our brides to look flawless on camera. Last note, hair needs to be first followed by makeup. Brides spend a lot of time looking for wedding day hair, so this needs to be dolled up for makeup.
2. If you plan on writing/reading letters or doing a gift exchange please remember that hearing what you two write each other will add a lot of pop to your tailored wedding film. You don't need to read this out loud, but videographers would love to have you record what was written so when you are reading the letter, we can hear what your fiance wrote with his voice under the video of you reading. This will add mind blowing elements to your wedding film. Look at it like this, would you pay for the best internet service, and call the provider and say you'd only like dial up? This element gives us a ton of material to work with and make it unique to each couple. If you prefer not to do any of this, just remember videographers are already limited with content and this will result in a smaller length wedding film.
3. Sound - couples who hire wedding videographers are really investing in sound. So when brides tell us "we don't care if we hear the vows" (on the wedding day) this will 100% ruin the wedding video. I've personally heard this before and it blows my mind, (if they didn't care about sound, I wouldn't have accepted the job). it's rare but it happens. Why on earth would someone hire a company to make a wedding video if there isn't any sound? It's like watching game of thrones on mute...Yikes.
4. Ceremony space - THIS is HUGE. A lot of people see videos or photos and hire us based off that alone, but they don't realize that we need space in order to get those shots you fell in love with and that composition that just makes sense. So we need at least 10-12 feet of free space from the alter to the front row. Luckily I've worked with some awesome planners and coordinators who have taken rows back to save our product. Weddings should always be a team effort - move the rows back, let our couples get beautiful content, which makes our couples happy, which makes the vendor selection on their end a great result, which ends in a win...and probably an instant publication.. If the space is way too crammed we will either become part of the bridal party (yay) or we will have to film a mile away, missing the good stuff (nay). Please keep this in mind for your final product.
5. Speeches - this is the most bang for your buck. All wedding speeches will be different as all couples stories are different. These cannot be rushed and videographers need to setup speeches. I've seen amazing wedding films, from lighting, to sound, to composition and then the worst looking wedding speeches ever. These need to be setup to look pretty and elegant. I tell my couples this is 40-60% of your wedding video and if I cannot personally set these up I can guarantee the wedding video will be extremely one dimensional and boring, which will leave you feeling like hiring a video company was a mistake.
6. Lasers or TVs on during your first dance. Have you ever recorded something on a computer screen or on your TV with your camera? If you haven't all you're going to see is a strobe light in the back and something that looks like a dusty VHS tape playing, its distracting and just plain awkward. I've had to turn these off in the background because there isn't anyway around it, same goes with lasers during first dances or up-lights. These cause a banding effect in your video and it can't be removed. A beautiful black line scrolling bottom to top the entire time, and i use beautiful sarcastically. So when wedding videographers request these things off its just because we want to give our brides a product they are proud of and our best.
So there you have it - 6 things that will make your wedding video the best investment come wedding day.
I recently came across a blog online that talked about 5 Secrets Your Wedding Videographer Wants You to Know..and to be honest most of it was bogus . I've seen my fair share of bad ideas, bad setups, horrendous lighting and vendors in this industry that I have no idea how they had someone sign their contract. With all of that aside, here are 5 secrets your wedding videographer wants you to know.
1. Trust us. You fell in love with our work from the beginning, now enjoy the day and let us do our thing...we may have "crazy" idea's but our end goal is simply to give you the greatest investment on your wedding day.
2. Content - It takes far more material for videographers to create a film or highlight than most people realize. As we need constant motion we can't "fake things" so we need makeup to be in great light before it gets applied (yes this should be a common sense thing) but sadly it's gotten just plain ridiculous as of late. When bride's speak up for us and say. "I do not want to get ready in the bathroom, I want to look the best in proper light." our day is so much easier.
3. Wedding Toasts - this is the most important part of our product for you, audio is king of the wedding day and the words from these speeches will mold your final product. There should never be a reason these don't look their best, and sound their best. You wouldn't watch a movie with 1 wide shot the entire time...I feel this should also be common sense, but oh my word "but it's so much easier for me to take a few photo's of everyone in a line, then I can go back to eat." -a bad photographer
4. We love when brides understand that their wedding day IS GOING TO RUN BEHIND, and that when videographers help create a timeline it most likely will go a lot smoother, this is because it does take us a bit longer to get shots our brides need and it takes a little longer to setup for certain portions of the day. Videographers don't have the luxury of walking around freely, with an auto focus taking 10-15 photo's of staged makeup or you slipping on your dress. We have our camera on a monopod or tripod, we need to adjust all of our settings and manuel focus our lens and need real motion.
5. Dinner - I personally don't eat at weddings most of the time, because I need a lot of things setup and testing my sound, but when we are told to eat last this makes zero sense. I've personally had a plate taken from my hand years ago because I stepped in the buffet line and it was rude to the guests (lol) of course I stated my case and was able to get back in line, but if vendors don't eat first we either don't eat, or we eat and miss some valueable content.
All the above I stress with my couples, and luckily my weddings are run with perfection. Most headaches can be avoided if vendors spoke up and let each other know what they need...I won't interfere with your details and portraits if you don't interfere with my wedding toasts.
Let's talk about wedding reviews!
I don't think brides really understand how easy it is to make a review and how some vendors are protected. Reviews can serve a certain purpose and possibly help brides out, but most reviews aren't that real. Now when I am out of state for filming weddings, I admit the first thing I do is open google and type in the following "pizza near me" I read the top 3 that come up and look for key words that I feel makes a great pizza, I will spend about 30 minutes debating and reading those. Now I know a pizza review for $12 is much different than a wedding vendor who will charge between 3-5k on average, so reviews can narrow the field down quite a bit.
These giant wedding websites - ANYONE CAN WRITE A REVIEW! WITH OR WITHOUT WORKING WITH YOU... If you want a beautiful example, here is a review that I received years ago (when I cared about them).
Reviewed On 12/15/2011 Laura S
...My experience with Brett Hatfield is something he should be embarrassed of. He was very unprofessional in his communication, writing one sentence, casual emails that might be sent to a friend, not a potential customer....
This reviewer admitted never working with me, never exchanging money, never meeting me...but my initial email was talking to her more like a friend.
My success in this industry has been being personable and getting to know my couples, I never deliver these over the top canned responses. I don't want my business model to sound like the operator when I call Verizon and have to make a payment. After months of trying to get the review down (when I cared). I was told that I already had too many great reviews and it would be wrong if someone had that great of a success rate... after this email I just gave up, didn't care about them, didn't care about these "ribbons" and participation trophies...and I stopped writing brides after they received their product to review me.
The last couple of weddings I have had have been painful to work at, not because the venue was bad, or the couple were a bit lame, or the planner had bad eyebrows..but because the bride thought she was hiring someone else. A lot of couples will read a review or two meet with the "face of the company" and come wedding day I am working with 4 photographers and an associate training them the day of. Of course the bride isn't going to be happy, she was lied to, and now we have 5 total people clogging up the day, having posing practice and a real power struggle. These photography companies are ruining the industry. I know a lot of these big companies who claim they just want to suck up the business so nobody else gets work, when your vendors care about the money rather than delivering a fine polished piece of art I can gurantee you will most likely be a little bit upset.
Here are a few things brides can do to make sure they have a great experience.
1. Find a vendor who has experience with your wedding theme. I'll be the first to admit, if a bride is looking for a fast pace hipster wedding and she reaches out...I am 100% certain I am not the right fit, but I know others who strive in that environment.
2. Read bad reviews first (yes I mean it). bad reviews can actually be a wonderful tool, sometimes the couple didn't have real expectations and will throw that vendor under the bus. I've seen reviews of photographers that are wonderful people and highly skilled, but the review was bad because the bride didn't receive a million photo's, or her book may have been damaged in the mail or her wedding day was all rain and she wasn't able to get her pinterest park photos...I've seen reviews saying, "don't hire this photographer because they will Photoshop you and make you look fat"...some people will go out of their way to try to ruin a business.
3. Make sure the person you meet with is the actual person showing up, and if they aren't make sure you've seen this persons actual work. Early on in my career I was linked with a very shady photography business - who would send high school seniors and early college kids - this company is no longer in business (shocker).
4. Make sure the work is consistent. I know many videographers who make great films, and just plain bad films, and the good films are usually when they outsource the work to other companies, or they film the wedding and outsource their editing..the more work they display the better idea you will have. Also, look at the date of the work, everyone can have a great wedding once or twice a year, if your photogapher/videographer last work shown is years ago, chances are they don't have anything current or that great to show.
Hopefully this clears things up a bit, not all reviews are real, the good, the bad and the downright hilarious. Most vendors are protected because they simply pay for that protection. The best resource is your gut feeling, and what you see...don't base your wedding day off some "award winning ribbon" because chances are those are paid for.
So many wedding videographers and wedding photographers have the same frustrations throughout the day. The biggest questions in facebook forums, groups and social media blogs are how we can overcome these wedding day challenges? I decided to put together a brief video describing the early stages of weddings, and by hiring a makeup artist that understands natural light and what a great photo and video look like will save you hours of time on your wedding day. This is an educational video helping makeup artists understand the importance of letting wedding photographers and videographers have brides in the best light from the beginning of the day. Which can be seen here.
Who is the best vendor in the wedding industry? Who is the best photographer for my wedding? Who should I have plan my wedding do I need a planner?
^^ some common questions I have had from current brides and previous brides..the answer? Keep reading!
The biggest question I get from brides outside the normal is... who is the best wedding photographer? This question is loaded and really shouldn't be asked...why? All weddings are different photographers have a certain bride they attract and certain weddings they thrive in!
I've had some brides use a photographer their friend used and they ended up not so thrilled with them, or a DJ who played at a friends wedding and ended up unhappy - now those two vendors thrive at other styles of weddings, If a bride wrote me and asked to record a full mass only..I would have to turn it down, because that isn't my kind of style or wedding...and I know she wouldn't be happy. Mostly because of priests refusing to wear a microphone and totally lie about the church not having a soundboard I can plug into (I've got a beauty of a video coming in the next month or so regarding this issue, you will not want to miss these behind the scenes moments and the behavior videographers have to put up with).
Brides should seek out vendors who have either worked their venue, or a wedding similar to theirs (think rustic wedding, unique wedding...etc). This will ensure your specific vendor will be the ideal person for your wedding. I once had a bride reach out in Feb. (wedding in Cincinnati) and she sent me her friends wedding (GA rustic wedding near a pond and cabins in the summer). She was looking for a videographer that could mock that style in her cold winter, catholic wedding in Cincinnati... this just isn't really possible to mimic since everything was completely opposite. So to all future brides always take recommendations from friends, family and other vendors...but make sure those that are referred have experience with your theme and your visions...otherwise you'll be left with a product that falls short of your wedding dreams.
Before I jump into this, and probably offend a few people :) This is just an example, not all weddings are like this...but usually there is something along these lines as far as reception light, whether it be with wedding speeches (extreme high value) or the first dance (extreme high value). it seems these moments are the moments when anyone decides "what looks best" and ironically, those who make these calls, have no idea about what actually looks best. There are 2 ways to approach these situations. Leave your professional opinion to yourself and make vendor friends, or speak up and make your bride happy. The choice is always yours. I choose the latter, because I am hired for the work I create, I would never tell a DJ or a venue coordinator how to do their job, because I don't know their job. This post is for every photographer, and videographer out there that has to deal with this...and for brides who need to understand why this is so valuable.
Below are 2 examples.
This is what a few in the industry wanted the first dance to look like. I literally had to debate through a lot of people and waste so much time because this scenario isn't acceptable. DJ says, "well they paid for this..so sorry" in house coordinator says "we will fix it"...then sadly disappear the entire night. The planner is usually not even on site which has never made sense to me and if they are, some just keep quiet because its easier. Most LED type lights the DJ provides will cause an ugly effect in video, and can ruin photo's. After going through 3 sets of vendors I just went to the bride...and told her the room is going to look like something from a horror flick, I understand that you may have paid for certain lighting, but the photographers and I strongly urge to let us light the important dances. I would suggest the lights be in our hands for about 20 minutes after so we can get some "party shots" Of course we ended up getting the better light, because brides trust the visual team because this what we were hired to do.
Finally...FINALLY after the bride understands what's going to look best we were able to control the lighting structure...the DARKER the room, THE LESS LIGHT WE NEED. Now, not all rooms are 100% dark because that would be silly, but rooms that are blasted in red, skin tones are ruined, dress details are ruined, facial expressions are ruined. For any bride out there, to my subscribers... just know that when you hire me... I am 100% all in for you. For all those vendors who seem to tell photographers and videographers what looks best, please stop. To all Djs, all wedding planners that would never put us in this situation, or have helped us in this situation I cannot thank you enough. If we are all educated on what we need and why the only thing that happens is magic and happy brides.
Let's talk about ideal bride prep situations. 10-20% of your wedding film, or highlight will come from these moments. Brides need to have a better understanding of lighting setups and real wedding situations photography and videography are handed. Our job is to make you look and feel flawless on your wedding day. Below are two examples of good vs bad, and the why it's important to have us setup where these moments take place.
When brides first reach out to a lot of video companies they need to understand the differences between these two options. If you're a bride and you're looking for a tampa bay wedding videographer, OR a wedding videographer elsewhere, let me save you the time and headache and cover these two products for you. So... you can make the right choice as what's best for YOU.
Highlights - will vary from company to company, but typically around 5-7 minutes. Now if your wedding is very traditional and more low key this is the best option for you. Let me explain. Even if videographers film all day sometimes when we get back to edit we have very little material to work with. A highlight will need minimal content.
So how much material will you need to make a great film?
In order for a great film, here are some things that can be done. Brides and Grooms that write each other letters beforehand, exchanging gifts, first looks, personal vows, wedding toasts during the reception. All of those will add a lot of value and personalize your wedding. you can get by with just having a maid of honor or best man give a speech during the reception. I have personally created wedding films from a very traditional small basic ceremony. Films can vary in length, but typically 8+ minutes on up.
Talk to your wedding videographer and let them know the type of ceremony, how many guests are coming, The more our brides can feed us, the longer and better the product will be. You can't have a BBQ with 30 family members and only serve 10 hamburgers... In order to make a beautiful film videographers need a lot of content, if you know there isn't a lot of content to be filmed, you're an ideal bride for a wedding highlight!.