18 Tips For Filming A Wedding

Do you have trouble filming wedding videos? I find that as a videographer, one of the more interesting things I that I do is to shoot videos for weddings.

Weddings are important events and it is critical that you get your video shoots right. Sometimes I film the wedding as a favor for a friend or relative, and sometimes I do it professionally.

Either way, I find that there are some fundamental tips and tricks you need to bear in mind when taking wedding videos. I’d like to share that knowledge with you here.

1. Interview The Couple

The first thing I do when I agree to do a wedding video is to find some time to interview the couple. Find out about their tastes and hobbies, what kind of video shoot they prefer.

Always interview the wedding couple first

Some couples like traditional shots and others like dramatic scenes. Always be prepared to ask a list of questions to understand the wedding couple’s video requirements better.

2. Know The Schedule

It is likely the wedding couple has planned their big day down to the minute. Make sure you get the wedding day's agenda from the wedding planner. You’ll want to make sure you’re always one step ahead of the couple.

If they’re about to come out of the church, you should already be outside the church before hand waiting for their exit. if they’re about to take the first dance, you should already be in position to take the shot.

3. Research The Venue

One of the most important aspects of wedding videography is to research the venue. Go to the church, the reception area, the dance floor or any other locale the wedding couple might visit.

Research the wedding venue beforehand

Understand how light enters the church and understand where you’ll angle your camcorder (and tripod stand, if relevant).

4. Find Out About Restrictions

I had a nasty surprise many years ago when I shot a wedding video professionally for a couple. The church they were going to had restrictions as to where videographers could stand - but I didn’t check these restrictions out beforehand.

As a result, I had to stand really far away to take video shots of the couple - and the resulting video production was far from ideal. So make sure you check on restrictions at the wedding location.

5. Take A Video Course

I remember when I was tasked to do a professional wedding video for a couple many years back. I was new to videography and didn’t understand the basic concepts of taking videos.

I feel that if you're new to videography, you should go for an intense video boot camp first. Attend a course or get advice from an expert before the wedding day.

The tips you learn for recording good video and audio will help you in not just shooting wedding videos - it’ll help you when you take other kinds of videos too.

6. Get To Know Your Camcorder

If you’re new to your camcorder - please practice taking videos with it before the wedding. Try out every manual control or switch if you have to. The more you understand the camcorder, the more you’ll be able to react to situations during the wedding itself.

7. Prepare Your Tapes & Batteries

If you use a MiniDV camcorder, then make sure you have your tapes ready. I usually have about five or six tapes, depending on how long the day will be.

Label these tapes way ahead of time so you’ll be able to sort them out. If you’re using SD card based camcorders, then also bring two extra SD cards.

In addition, batteries are important as well. Bring along an extra battery (I usually bring an extra two) so you can just switch them in when one runs out.

Don’t depend on the camcorder battery charger - usually, in the wedding day, you won’t have much “down time” to charge up those batteries.

8. Use A Lapel Mic

To film the vows taken by the couple, a microphone is essential. Now obviously you don’t want the mic to be super big - so get a lapel microphone to be used by the groom.

Using a lapel mic helps to pick up the vows

In fact, some folks I know have wireless microphones hooked into their camcorders - but these tend to be very expensive.

You can also get a digital audio recorder and wire a label mic into that. Make sure you have enough disk space for recording the audio and synch it in during post-production editing.

As an alternative, you can also buy a digital recorder (or transform your iPod into a digital recorder) and wire your lapel mic into it. You'll have to synch the audio and video while editing.

9. Remember Your Role

If you’re taking the video for the wedding as a professional, you should stay professional and ensure all essential shots of the couple are taken.

If you’re taking the video as a friend or relative, then you need to make sure you stay out of the way of the “official” wedding videographer.

The bride and groom likely paid quite a bit of money to hire this professional, so give him or her the priority in filming - don’t get in the way.

10. Look For Interesting Angles

One bit of advice I have for wedding videographers is to look with an “director’s eye” when filming the wedding.

Use interesting vantage points to film your video

Instead of filming them straight, could you go to another corner to get a more interesting perspective? An example is when the couple exchange vows.

Instead of filming from far away, you’d want to move around and zoom in to capture the look on the groom and the bride’s face. Always go for interesting angles when composing your video shots.

11. Be Unobtrusive

You know, the wedding is a day for the couple to be happy and for people to celebrate. Keep that in mind when you go about filming the wedding.

At times, we want to achieve perfection and get great video shots, but it might come at the expense of others’ enjoyment of the event.

So if you have to move around somewhat during the ceremony, you may do so, but do it quickly and quietly. Don’t draw attention away from the events of the day and the wedding couple.

12. Use The Zoom

I usually don’t encourage the use of too much zooming when filming videos. However, for a wedding, there are times when you need to use your zoom to get close ups of guests and the happy couple.

The nature of a wedding makes it quite impossible to go up too close to the couple, hence you do need to zoom in now and then. Just make sure you don’t keep zooming in and out - zoom in only every once in a while.

13. Light the Scene

The newer digital camcorders these days boast excellent video quality. That’s some good news for wedding videographers because they no longer need to set up large lights for a scene.

You may still need to buy some extra light to get good video during the wedding. I usually attach a small, 50-watt light on top of my digital camcorder to light scenes without blinding guests. That little light does wonders and is pretty cheap too.

14. Talk To People

One trick I’ve learnt over the years as a wedding videographer is to talk to the people at the wedding. I’m not talking about the bride and groom (they’re probably too busy).

But talk to people like the best man, the friends of the couple or relatives. It helps loosen people up and they’ll be more natural when you try to get in video shots.

Also important are other people who are helping out. I remember making friends with the DJ and photographer when I did a friend’s wedding a couple of years back.

Not only did I make good friends, but they also helped to warn me of upcoming events in the schedule, so I could be as ready as possible.

15. Take A Break

It is very tiring to shoot a wedding video. Often, you are the only one running around, ahead of the bride and groom, trying to get shots set up. Even with an assistant, the day will be long and you’re on your feet most of the time.

Remember to take a break now and then for some rest and refreshment. A nice cold drink will help keep you fresh.

16. Use Two Cameras

If you have two video cameras, make full use of them to shoot the wedding! Usually, you can place one camera at one angle and another from an opposite angle. This allows you to capture some solid, wide shots of the bride, groom and other guests.

This trick also yields some very interesting close ups and facial reaction shots too.

17. Do Post-Production Quickly

One of the best tips I have for wedding videographers is to get your post-production done quickly. It's best if you have an established workflow for doing this.

If you’ve shot some footage of the church proceedings in the morning, try to squeeze in some time (or ask someone else) to produce a wedding video for you by the afternoon.

This is great because you can show the couple during the day what has already happened during the wedding. It never fails to bring smiles to their faces.

18. Practice Makes Perfect

The last tip I have is this: the more you practice taking wedding videos, the better you’ll become. As I moved from my earlier projects to more professional work, I found that my skills in judging situations and how to take the best video started to improve.

Indeed, practise your craft more and more - sooner or later you will become an expert.

Wrapping Up ...

You know, filming a wedding is an important responsibility. Whether you’re doing it for a friend or relative, or professionally, I encourage you to do every bit of research you can upfront before the actual day.

Hopefully, the tips above will set you off in the right direction. Apply them before you shoot your next wedding video, and I’m sure you’ll get better results! Until next time, have a great time shooting those videos!