July 19, 2016 at 7:54PM

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I got my first gig making a wedding video in a week and I'm lost.

Hello No Film School,
I have been reading this site for almost a year now and I know this is just the type of problem the community here can help me with. Recently I decided I was ready to start making money off my filmmaking, and just today my brother's friend called and told me he'd love to have me film his wedding at the end of the month. Of course I was overjoyed to hear this news, but there's an unfortunate catch. I was interviewed for this job along with two other filmmakers, and even though the groom is my brother's friend, I apparently only got the job because I had more passion for the story than for the gear. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to film the "story" of the wedding. I know I will capture the important moments such as the main service, but how do I make a documentary-style movie out of more than just that? What extra scenes or moments should I include? (I may get invited to the bachelor party in a few weeks too, so should I incorporate that into the story as well?) Basically, how would you tell the story of the wedding? I'm supposed to present my ideas to both the bride and the groom this weekend and I'm really looking for as much advice as possible. Thank you for your time.
*As far as gear is concerned, I'm pretty well-off. I'll be bringing two Canon 60Ds along with the basic sound equipment (Rode videomics, etc.) and a DJI Phantom 4. Additionally, my 12 year-old cousin will be helping me the day of, and he can bring a Nikon d3300.

88 Comments

My wife and I are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary today, and we are going to be watching our wedding video together later today. We hired a "journalistic" wedding videographer to tell the "story" of our wedding. It came out great. The process was simple, but you may not be able to pull it off solo.

After hiring the crew, he interviewed us, asking us to tell him what we thought the story of the wedding was. We told him about who we were, who was coming, how we picked the venue, the catering, the processional and recessional music, special notes about the pastor, the vows, the honeymoon, etc. Basically, we told him everything. And as we told him about the who, what, when, where, how of our wedding, he began to ask other questions: "would you like us to do more detailed shots of X or Y?" or "would you like us to add some vineyard stock footage since you are having the wedding at a winery?" Etc.

The day of the wedding, three camera people showed up. Camera A was principal videography of the bride and groom. Camera B was wide shots and/or family reactions. Camera C was B-roll all day long (random behind-the-scenes actions which, if you catch the right moment at the right time, really makes the video great).

One special twist of our wedding was that we had a good friend who arranged my wife's favorite song--Dancing Queen by ABBA--for string quartet. That was our recessional. When the song started, it sounded initially like any other wedding march. The cameras captured the faces of everybody reacting to a wedding march. Then, row by row (the hippest friends happened to be closest to the front) the guests recognized the music and you could see their faces light up and smiles beam. Because we told the camera crew to watch for that, they got it. And it's fantastic.

A wedding videographer with years of experience has probably seen enough different things that they know what questions to ask, they know what to look for, they know how to shoot it, with how many cameras, they know how to edit it, they know how to get good sound (which is CRUCIAL!), etc. But if they don't ask the right questions and they don't prepare ahead of time, knowing all the shots they need to get, and why, to tell the story, it is doubtful that they will do a good job capturing the story of something that moves as quickly and as unpredictably as a wedding.

Good luck!

July 20, 2016 at 4:21AM

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I cannot thank you enough for this incredibly helpful and truly thoughtful reply. I am only responding to it today because I have spent that past two days since your reply following your advice!

I decided to hire four additional crew members to fulfill the roles of camera A, B, and C, along with a professional sound man. I'm pretty connected in my local film community so I received small discounts and feel confident in my ability to produce a technically-sound project.

As per your experience, I conducted a Skype interview with the wedding planner to better understand the structure of the event, and then I also had another more important Skype interview with the happy couple themselves. Both the bride and the groom told me the most important parts of the wedding for them, and I took plenty of notes so I know which moments I absolutely must capture. I asked plenty of questions as well, and now possess a comprehensive knowledge of the couple's history and the background information necessary to enter the day of the wedding well-educated.

Although this will indeed be my first wedding, the crew I hired have all done others before in some capacity, I was forward and made sure the bride and groom understood I am new to wedding videos, but they trust me to do a good enough job and know that I am taking this seriously. They are also happy to help me with my first major step in this shaky career.

I am preparing for the big day as we speak, (maybe even more than the groom himself), and thanks to your help I've decided to begin the "story" of the wedding with an intimate interview at our meeting this weekend. Hopefully things will get off to a smooth start!

A huge thanks again for your invaluable response. As for your wedding video, I hope you enjoyed watching it again. As a huge ABBA fan, your unique take on the wedding march put a smile on my face. Maybe one day I'll find a composer to transcribe Super Trouper for my wedding. Happy anniversary to you and your wife; I can only hope that I make a video my couple will treasure twenty years from now.

Lorenzo Ducai

July 22, 2016 at 3:35PM

Start watching a ton of wedding films if you haven't already!
Ask what is important to capture their "Story." Consider doing a short interview of them separately or together about how they met, how the proposal went, what they love about each other, etc.

Don't be afraid to shoot too much as this is your first wedding & you can find different ways to structure the story in post. Also try to get clean audio of the vows.

Here is one that I thought really told a story & did it well!
https://vimeo.com/117707867

Hope that helps!

July 21, 2016 at 6:38AM

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Derek Armitage
Filmmaker & Vlogger
664

Thank you for the insightful response!

I conducted an interview with the bride and groom and got a detailed overview of their ideas of the story, so I will go in to our meeting this weekend well-prepared. The idea of separate interviews is very good, (and might add some humorous elements to the final cut if their memories of a single event differ greatly from each other!)

My sound man is designing a setup for the venue as we speak, and I'll be meeting with him tomorrow as well for a comprehensive briefing. I will not slack on sound.

The video you linked was also extremely helpful, and it was one of the better examples of a wedding video I've seen in the past week as I've poured over countless other examples.

I promise to shoot more video than I'll ever need!

Lorenzo Ducai

July 22, 2016 at 3:42PM

Have you thought doing a highlight video strictly?

July 22, 2016 at 10:18AM

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I considered that in the beginning, but after getting this job I realized a highlight real will not cut it for this couple. With this in mind, I have beefed up my staff considerably, and feel more prepared to tackle a documentary-style wedding video than I did at the time of my original post.

Lorenzo Ducai

July 22, 2016 at 3:45PM, Edited July 22, 3:45PM

And here's NinjaMonkey with negative advice. As usual.

You got this man! I think the most important thing is to do your pre pro work and have it planned out to a T. But be flexible on the day so you can easily adjust to any unforeseen circumstances or great opportunities/moments that might come up.

I would suggest bringing an additional shooter besides your cousin. And if you can swing it have another person there exclusively operating the DJI. You don't want to be messing with that thing and be missing opportunities right in front of you.

You got this!

July 22, 2016 at 10:21AM

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Nick Rowland
Street Bum
696

Dude, nothing in your original comment or your above comment gave him any useful information. All you did was discourage him from doing anything.

The other comments have given him suggestions on how to pull this off and your over here being a Negative Nancy.

Nick Rowland

July 22, 2016 at 11:43AM

I love how you like to twist words and deflect what is said in comments to make everything about you. You like playing the victim. It's sad.

Instead of encouraging this guy and trying to give him some useful tips you come off as an elitist douche. But to be elite you would have to have something worth a shit. So really you're just a douche.

Nick Rowland

July 22, 2016 at 1:44PM

Thank you for your tips!

The planning process is currently well-underway and I will surely finish the work by the time the big day rolls around at the end of the month.

I'll assign one of my new extra crew members to the DJI, that way I'll be free to evolve with the moment and oversee everything.

My little cousin will now serve as my head assistant; he is so excited to work with professionals, (considering he sees himself as the next "Steven Spielberg").

Thanks again for the advice.

Lorenzo Ducai

July 22, 2016 at 3:52PM

Thank you again Nick for going to bat for me. I find NinjaMonkey's comments that I am "stealing" from my clients downright slanderous. I may be an amateur when it comes to wedding videos, but not videos in general, and this project will be my transition piece--which I intend to be a solid transition piece. I've surrounded myself with the properly-skilled crew, and will hopefully produce a lengthy documentary-styled wedding video detailing the "story" of the wedding, rather than a simple highlight video set to a terse piece of music.

Lorenzo Ducai

July 22, 2016 at 4:12PM

NinjaMonkey - it's funny how my attitude has landed me in Los Angeles working in the film industry. While yours has brought you to some bullshit town in Florida. Shooting 300 shitty wedding videos and half-assed music videos and "commercials" means nothing. I've seen your "work" and I'm not impressed. The fact you went to film school and that's the content you produce is embarrassing.

Lorenzo - best of luck dude - sounds like you're going to kill it!

Nick Rowland

July 22, 2016 at 4:38PM

Weird....Which Frank Hernandez is you on IMDb? None of them have any award winning features on their page.

I worked on some AFI student films when I first got out here. There's nothing special there. So again, you are unimpressive.

Nick Rowland

July 22, 2016 at 4:51PM

You say you have shot 300 weddings, and all have been a success. Well I must ask, was your first a success? If so, why? And why can I not also have similar success with my first wedding? What makes you so better than me?

Lorenzo Ducai

July 23, 2016 at 11:29PM

You also act like I care only about my gear. My gear is good, but my crew is better. The DJI will add marvels to the project, but it would be nothing without an equally-skilled operator. As I have reiterated before, I got this job because I showed more care for story than for gear. Other filmmakers with better gear lost to me because I had the guts to talk about the wedding's "story". Why you insist on bringing this conversation back to gear goes against the storytelling No Film School fosters.

Lorenzo Ducai

July 23, 2016 at 11:34PM

21 comments...and all are rated 0.

If there are comments that you think are helpful, please give them an up-vote so that others can benefit from your editorial contribution.

July 22, 2016 at 7:39PM

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The fact that you care about this project is the most important thing. Be interested in it and be interested in them. I think some people over analyze weddings and throw the term "story" around without really thinking about it. When I shoot weddings I think more in terms of "personality". Who are these people? What makes them interesting? And how does their wedding reflect that? Weddings are usually a reflection of the couple's personality and its your job to capture the moments and details that reflect that. What are the emotions of the day? Amplify those. The hardest thing about filming a wedding is constantly being aware of what happens next. Then being able to very quickly figure out how to shoot that in an interesting and flattering way, preferably with nice lighting. My advise to you would be to watch a ton of videos and look out for things that you like. Love24fps.com is a good resource. Copy the links of videos you like and paste them into keepvid.com and download them. Then make a little 3 minute (or so) edit of your favourite bits. Put that video on your phone and have it has reference for your the day. Its a great way of having some ideas for great shots on hand as well as a quality bar reference for yourself. Its about as best as you can do for having storyboards for a shoot. It might sound like you're copying other's work, but thats OK. Just think of it like starting out in a band and doing covers until you start riffing on your own. Thats what I did when I started out (something I learned from doing commercial work by the way). I wouldn't worry about loads of equipment or having multiple people filming. You can totally shoot a wedding by yourself. Obviously having a 2nd pair of hands is very helpful. This is a wedding I shot a couple of years ago. By myself, one GH4, a 50mm and a 12mm lens, a monopod and a glide cam. And one lav mic with a zoom h1. You can see it here: https://vimeo.com/102902170.
As far as "story" goes. Most of this can come from audio that you record on the day. Make sure to get good audio from every part of the day. You can also do a little interview with the couple. I sometimes do this (not that often though). I stay away from the "how did you meet?" type question and instead try to explore emotions. "How did you feel when you met?" - thats a better question to ask. Make it more of an informal chat. And, as I said above, just be interested in them. Really really giving a shit is what will make you better than the other guys they spoke to.

July 23, 2016 at 11:53PM

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Mark Relf
Director, Editor
265

I don't know how much he's charging. Or much about the conversation he's had with the clients so I can't pass judgement. But as long as he's being upfront with them I don't see a problem. He also said he's also not in-experienced. If he's honest with the clients and charging an appropriate amount based on his current experience as a videographer/film maker/editor then whats the issue? Many people start out filming friends weddings either for free or for a lesser amount. I know thats how I started, just doing a few every summer for a few years to earn some extra $. I always charged because I had already spent several years filming and editing broadcast packages professionally. Of course, you will improve more quickly by working with more experienced professionals (just with any job) but you can also take on your own projects yourself and develop your own style. I actually think having a fresh approach can be great because its very easy to pick up bad habits from long-serving videographers who make cliched wedding videos. In fact I make a point of hiring assistants with little or no wedding experience for that reason. There are always different approaches to developing a career. Each to their own I say. Be bold, try stuff out and operate with honesty and integrity.

Mark Relf

July 24, 2016 at 12:18PM

Ninja, I am not charging an exorbitant price for this wedding. My crew members each gave me discounts cause I'm connected and a member of my local film community, thus I'm offering my services to this wedding at a discounted price as well. Having my cousin as an assistant also cuts back on costs, ensuring that the happy couple get a more than fair price. Additionally, the groom is my brother's best friend, and with this in mind, I do consider the happy couple to be family friends. They are more than happy to help me out with my first professional gig, and although I cannot ensure a perfect project (who can?), I know I will give them something special to cherish for years, especially with my prioritization of the story instead of the gear. My talents may not be suitable for your world-renowned wedding crew, but I'd appreciate it if you kept your elitist mindset out of the conversation regarding my up-and-coming wedding videography team. I've been to weddings before, in fact it seems like all of my friends are getting married right now, and being a videography enthusiast I always spend a majority of my time talking to the on-hand crew and watching them work. It was the interesting conversations I had at these events that encouraged me to try my own hand at filming a beautiful wedding!

Lorenzo Ducai

July 24, 2016 at 2:34PM

Ninja, people can charge what ever they want. Its between them and their client. You have no business suggesting otherwise. Its also his risk to take on a new type of project and the clients' risk to hire someone with little experience. Its sounds like both parties know the score so there's really no problem there.
As far as hiring people with little experience, I've found it to be a largely positive experience, and certainly not something I do on a "whim", what ever that is meant to mean. When I have someone who's new to the team I have them work as a 3rd shooter for half a day on a few weddings to get them up to speed. I do a few training sessions with them too to get them to shoot the way I want them to. Conversely I've hired people who are "experienced" and more often than not they give me the same old footage that they give every other videography company they work for, not matter what feedback I give them. Thats my experience and I now have a method that I've developed it for a few years now. You are more than welcome to do things your way all day long! Best of luck to you.

Mark Relf

July 24, 2016 at 3:48PM

Ninja, I apologize, I never said that I was connected to the film industry—far from it in fact, ( I'm about as much of an outsider as you can get). I merely meant that I have a strong presence in my local film community (film clubs, stores, and the local directors). You are obviously the professional, but as someone who is working to gain a reputation as you claim to have, I would appreciate it if you would not call me a joke, as it is slanderous to both my name and hopeful brand. Mark, I appreciate your comment regarding hiring a wedding crew with fresh experience, that is definitely something I would like to experiment with once I establish my name more as a wedding videographer. Cheers!

Lorenzo Ducai

July 24, 2016 at 9:02PM

I would say just have fun with it. Be open to trying things out. If they wanted to hire an experienced wedding videographer, they would have. Just make sure they know that you have never done a wedding before but you will try your hardest to create something amazing. Try to get some lavs for the ceremony and an audio recorder (like a Tascam Dr-100 or Zoom H4n) for the speeches. During the ceremony I'd recommend locking everything off on tripods. I think the most important thing is to capture the important moments and other moments the couple would find very special. In the end, if the couple is happy with the result, you've done your job.

July 24, 2016 at 10:46AM

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Gareth Ng
Cinematographer
715

I have been very open with the clients, and I do possess access to enough audio recorders for the event (Zoom h4ns like you said). Additionally, my sound man will bring his own gear, so I'll get to check all of that during our meeting Monday. Tripods are a good idea too. I like your suggestion about focusing on the individual moments themselves. Thanks for your helpful advice!

Lorenzo Ducai

July 24, 2016 at 2:38PM

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leopoldleo110

November 7, 2017 at 11:59PM

Show up to the rehearsal and film it. That way you know what angles work and you will have a lot more confidence going into the wedding day. Delete the footage (unless there is something worth keeping). The wedding party uses the rehearsal as a practice run, you should get in there as well.

After that the wedding day is pretty simple with the "ceremony" being the most stressful, so that's why I suggest going to the rehearsal. Show up early on the wedding day, triple check your cameras and audio levels and make sure your assistants/helpers know what to do. Getting there early enough ensures that the most important part (ceremony) is ready so that you can then focus on getting B-Roll of people arriving and various decor etc.

July 24, 2016 at 1:22PM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
3037

You have time to shoot that stuff. Usually that is where you can be kind of creative. None of it is as stressful as the ceremony.

Luke Neumann

July 24, 2016 at 1:40PM

This is such a revelation! I haven't yet thought of filming the rehearsal, (I did plan on attending, but not filming). I will make sure my entire crew will be present as well. I cannot thank you enough for this piece of advice. The venue will also be vacant and untouched in-between the rehearsal and ceremony, so I will be able to set up more permanent establishments for my crew. Thanks again.

Lorenzo Ducai

July 24, 2016 at 2:43PM

Also, for the party, my extensive crew will be more than capable of catching each of these moments—similarly to a reality tv show. I would not worry about missing something so rigorously-scheduled as the first dance. (I am working in strict cooperation with the wedding planner, who will keep me updated as to how things are moving and what's next—which I also have my notes for).

Lorenzo Ducai

July 24, 2016 at 2:46PM

PS...you do not need 100 weddings under your belt to do this. LOL.

You've been to weddings before? Then you know the basic timeline of things. Aisle, Bride, Stand, Minister, Vows, Kiss, Leave. It's not rocket science.

July 24, 2016 at 1:25PM, Edited July 24, 1:25PM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
3037

What did I say? I said...go to the rehearsal. If you've been to a wedding, you know the basics. Everything else can be figured out at the rehearsal. Not. Rocket. Science.

Luke Neumann

July 24, 2016 at 1:39PM

Mmm...yeah. I have experience with weddings. They aren't as difficult as you make them out to be. Go to the rehearsal.

Also, I'm so bummed that you won't work with me. Golly...what will I do with myself?

July 24, 2016 at 2:12PM

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Luke Neumann
Cinematographer/Composer/Editor
3037

You can do the wedding, but you can't do it as well as an experienced wedding videographer. Suggesting that you could implies that experience doesn't matter, and it really does. Doing weddings is an art form. Partly learned, a lot of raw talent. Some wedding videographers are just way better than others. Look around online and you'll see that. The problem right now is that you have no way of knowing if you'll be one of the good ones or not. So, you are taking a chance with someone's wedding. But, you gotta start somewhere, so Good Luck!

July 24, 2016 at 2:16PM

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Yeah, this forum needs it after the garbage that NinjaMonkey spews 24/7.

Luke Neumann

July 24, 2016 at 2:32PM

Thank you for the healthy dose of unexaggerated realism. I never supposed I would be as good as an experienced wedding videographer. I'm no such virtuoso. I'm open with my clients, and they understand this will be my first wedding video, so they understand not to expect the same caliber of work like that of an experienced professional with over 300 perfect wedding videos under his belt—they aren't paying for that either. It may not be the Citizen Kane of wedding videos, but it'll get the job more than done. Thanks for your well-wishes, I assure you I am taking my job seriously.

Lorenzo Ducai

July 24, 2016 at 2:54PM

Dude...Just stop talking. Nothing but garbage comes out. No one appreciates or likes your comments. Get a freakin clue.

Luke Neumann

July 24, 2016 at 8:12PM

Self awareness. Try it out. K bye.

Luke Neumann

July 24, 2016 at 8:31PM

Update: I have indeed been invited to the bachelor party for filming, (but not the bachelorette party). How should I include this in the "story" of the wedding? Should I include it at all? We (about 10 guys) will be going out to a nice dinner at night and then we shall see where the evening takes us. Thanks again for all the helpful feedback everyone, I'm slowly feeling like I am gaining solid footing for my first professional wedding video!

July 24, 2016 at 3:01PM

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Lorenzo Ducai
Director/Cinematographer/Editor/Wedding Photographer
421

Definitely film it and decide when you get to the edit on how to use it (if at all)

Luke Neumann

July 24, 2016 at 3:05PM

I agree with Luke, definitely record it but don't necessarily expect to put it in the final piece. However, consider sending a short highlights of the party to the couple, separate from the wedding stuff.

Gareth Ng

July 24, 2016 at 5:13PM, Edited July 24, 5:13PM

Thanks for both of your suggestions. I will film the bachelor party, but not get too attached to the photo lest it fails to work with the rest of the project (or the groom decides he doesn't want his bride to see his final night of debauchery).

Lorenzo Ducai

July 24, 2016 at 9:07PM, Edited July 24, 9:07PM

Right...use discretion when filming. Don't have the camera out once the night gets rolling unless there is a clear opportunity. I would look at it as more of an opportunity for cinematic b-roll for the highlight reel etc.

Luke Neumann

July 24, 2016 at 10:36PM, Edited July 24, 10:36PM

One thing to consider is that some of the events will happen one after another. For example, often times there will be the entrance, followed by the first dance, followed by the speeches. Depending on the schedule, you might only have a few seconds to move between events. So maybe get ready for the next event while your assistant finishes up the current one. I've had to deal with this schedule as a solo shooter, so it shouldn't be hard if there's another set of hands.

It's a good idea to get shots of the guests interacting with each other/doing stuff instead of only focussing on the couple. Obviously make sure you have plenty content of them, but get a lot of shots of everything that's around you. I'm pretty sure you were going to do this already, but I thought I'd add this just in case.

Another thing to hopefully ease you, I shot my first wedding solo when I was 15 and it turned out very well. So you're actually better off than I was! Just follow your instincts and prepare to move/think fast if needed.

July 24, 2016 at 5:22PM, Edited July 24, 5:22PM

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Gareth Ng
Cinematographer
715

I wish I had the courage to start when I was 15! And I definitely intend to take plenty of shots of guest interactions. Thank you for your positive comment and advice, I will surely take these to heart!

Lorenzo Ducai

July 24, 2016 at 8:26PM

And don't listen to Ninja Gareth, your first wedding video sounds like it was a blast to make. I cannot wait to shoot mine! Also Ninja, I will be shooting with 5 cameras—each operated by a skilled technician (save for the one my little cousin controls, but he wants to be the next Steven Spielberg so maybe he'll get some surprise golden shots). But I think my crew more than meets the standard, especially with my extra pro sound man and all his high-tech goodies. I do admire your dedication to the advancement of wedding videography though.

Lorenzo Ducai

July 24, 2016 at 8:31PM

Ninja, come on man, my little cousin is just having fun. And who knows, he may surprise us! I am not relying on his footage in any way for my video, hence why I have hired a team of payed professionals—a point you somehow haven't been able to accept. I can handle your criticism but attacking my cousin is just a low blow. Who knows? He may just come up with enough happy accidents to transform the film from something a bit more special than your average wedding documentary.

Lorenzo Ducai

July 24, 2016 at 10:24PM

During my first wedding the couple specifically said they wanted someone who was just starting out. They were on a tight budget, so they wouldn't have hired a professional. Basically, it was someone like me or no video at all. I used two cameras for that but pretty much skimped on audio (which I don't do today) but the couple didn't care. Today I use three cameras even as a solo shooter. Yes, turned out well is very relative, I was 15 and had very little wedding experience and not a whole lot of film experience in general. Anyway, Ninja, I respect your opinions since you have the experience to back it up. The thing to keep in mind is that you're going down your own path (which has lead to some very impressive outcomes) and other people are going down their own. Why not try to encourage their efforts and risktaking in trying something new?

Gareth Ng

July 25, 2016 at 8:59AM

And to Lorenzo, I'm glad I could help! You've done a great job at ensuring the best chance at a successful shoot. Don't forget to show us the result!

Gareth Ng

July 25, 2016 at 9:23AM

Ninja, making money is making money, there's no "right" way to do it as long as it's not illegal. My clients are paying for an amateur production crew to film their wedding. We know how to use our tools to tell a story, but we have little experience in the world of wedding videography and the particulars of said "story". That said, we all (save for my little cousin) have professional experience with video and sound in other areas of expertise. I'm not sure which generation you think I am of, but I do care about making money honestly, and that has translated to my honesty with my clients.

Lorenzo Ducai

July 25, 2016 at 12:12PM

Gareth, thanks once again for the well-wishes and positive personal anecdotes, they've made me feel much more prepared to tackle this big event. I can't wait to show everyone what I can accomplish! Thank you.

Lorenzo Ducai

July 25, 2016 at 12:14PM

Ninja, I am not as greedy as you think. The whole point of me filming weddings is to start earning a living off my passion! I'm combining art with money—something inherent to cinema itself. I have the hunger to work for free, but why should I when people will pay me to do the same work? That's a waste of time. If the only reason to do so is to prove a point, then that's not art.

Lorenzo Ducai

July 25, 2016 at 4:38PM, Edited July 25, 4:38PM

Congrats on landing the job!
It seems you are a convincing salesman and that you know gear is just a tool to create stories.
Be aware you don't make it a habit to sell things you don't know how to create, ;-) otherwise you'll be reducing 'story' to just a buzzword and that would be to your own disadvantage.

Like someone else said before: go to the rehearsals.
Know the locations, know the schedule and think about what shots you really need.
Think ahead of what the wedding is really about: the couple. And the emotions around the wedding.
Did you already interview the couple to discover their 'story'? How did they meet, what personal elements will be there in the wedding?

Muse has a course on story in wedding videos at http://learnstory.org that is really geared towards your question.

Discussions about child labour aside, I'm not sure bringing a 12-year-old will look seriously professional. On the other hand the proof is in the eating of the pudding: if the results are great and he doesn't attract attention, I don't think anyone would care :-)
If he is still not tall: that is even an advantage as he can walk around without blocking anyone's view.

Don't be discouraged, but be prepared and be prepared to improvise.

Be aware: use the drone safely AND remember it creates a terrible noise that can be very distracting. You don't want to buzzzzzzz throught the vows or have shots where all visitors look up to the drone while they should watch the couple.

BTW, what are your other filmmaking experiences?
Documentary, reports, moodvideos, narrative?
Knowing that could help giving some pointers. :-)

July 25, 2016 at 4:32AM, Edited July 25, 4:33AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9912

Thank you Walter for taking the time to leave a helpful response. I must admit I did use the word "story" to get my foot in the door, but I intend to move past that with my future work in the field.

I appreciate your touching on the emotions of the wedding. A focus on the emotions will surely lead to an overall meaningful final result. Thank you for this comment, and for the website which I will surely investigate.

As for my cousin, he will stay out of everyone's hair—a mere fly on the wall—and possibly capture some solid production stills for my future sales pitches.

I will do my best to continue to prepare.

Also for the drone, the noise issue is a major concern. I plan on reserving it's use for far away shots of the venue and surroundings from above, as well as B-roll footage of the venue from out of ear-range. It will stay away from the main party, however I do intend to take the propellers off and glide it around the dance floor as a steadicam proxy to capture the smooth feel of the dancing. This will be a noiseless affair though, (as long as I don't trip!).

As for my experience, I did not attend film school in college, but my close friends did and I ended up helping them in many of their projects, as a cinematographer and sometimes even assistant director when things heated up. Every summer we'd film a feature together and I'd typically fulfill numerous roles on the crew. Basically all narrative. Since then, I have continued my narrative roles (although never fully directed) and have also edited a documentary about my local bakery and its storied owner. After this, I tried my hand at a series of short documentaries about a nearby band, but none of this has been as commercial as my upcoming wedding video.

Thanks again for such helpful feedback and I apologize for the jumbled mess of paragraphs, (I still cannot figure out how to separate them on this board's formatting).

Lorenzo Ducai

July 25, 2016 at 12:31PM

Dude...STFU with your nonsense. Get a clue, no one on these boards takes anything you say seriously. Do everyone a favor and go away. Stop littering the thread with your nonsensical ramblings.

Luke Neumann

July 25, 2016 at 2:00PM

Ninja - you are not a professional. You're an amateur, playing the victim, acting like you are professional. You are fake.

Nick Rowland

July 25, 2016 at 2:27PM, Edited July 25, 2:27PM

As the saying goes:

If you're the smartest guy in the room then you're in the wrong room.

You're the turd in this punch bowl bro. Get out.

Nick Rowland

July 25, 2016 at 3:36PM

Ninja, I truly have great admiration and respect for you and the brand you established. More than that, I envy the amount of experience you've had the fortune to possess in the field. As someone with such great success, I'd appreciate it if you would use your extensive knowledge and experience to help advise someone like myself who only dreams of one day managing a brand as trusted as yours. We have established that experience would be good, but obviously I do not have the time to assist numerous weddings by the end of this week. With this in mind, what can you—an obviously-successful professional—offer me—a relative newcomer—in terms of advice to tell the best "story" of my happy couple's wedding. What is your procedure? How do you operate? I'm keen to learn how someone like you produces a proper wedding film. This information would be exponentially more useful than the "quit" advice you've so far given me. Thank you, and I must apologize for any attacks you have faced. God bless you.

Lorenzo Ducai

July 25, 2016 at 4:22PM

I also didn't go to film school because I never knew I had a passion for film until well-into my freshman year of college! By then, I still didn't have enough information or loose cash to transfer my business major to a film major. I wouldn't have even been able to tell you the difference between a close-up and a long shot until a few years ago! Thankfully though, I didn't switch, and now I have a business degree along with about the same amount of knowledge as a film-school graduate (so my film school friends say), so I feel like I got the best of both worlds. And here I am, combining my two areas of expertise (business and film) into what I hope will one day become a fruitful source of income for the duration of my life. Hopefully I can pass this brand along to my children, but it all starts this weekend with the big day itself. Wish me luck!

Lorenzo Ducai

July 25, 2016 at 4:45PM

Whatever you do, please don't use the drone during the ceremony! I can't imagine anything that could kill the mood more than a noisy drone hovering over the bride & groom while they say their vows, not to mention it'll mess up your audio as well. I've seen it done before, yikes...

July 25, 2016 at 11:51AM, Edited July 25, 11:50AM

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Peter Amodeo Gould
Producer / Editor / Cinematographer
98

http://www.onefinedayproductions.com

watch some of this persons wedding videos and take out how they blocked the story and what audio is playing in the background. Many times I use their card reading/ speeches/ vows for the story and lay over b-roll. Now thats watering it down quite a bit, but the most important thing is to keep in mind is to capture audio. Without audio of the groom giving his vows or the best man telling his speech it'll be hard to create a wedding film with a strong story.

July 25, 2016 at 5:24PM

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Thank you so much Jayce. That website is full of great examples, I've been studying it for the past hour. Also, I agree with your advice regarding audio—I have a pro sound man prepared to capture the important key audio of speeches etc and the ambient noise at all times during the big event. Cheers!

Lorenzo Ducai

July 26, 2016 at 7:59AM

I've only shot one wedding in the past as a favour for my brother, and I'll admit, it was kind of tricky. Though I think that mainly came down to the situation I was in. I wouldn't advise being a guest at the wedding you're shooting - lots of aunts and uncles pulling you to the side telling you how much you've grown (Yes, I would have hoped I'd grown a bit over the past 20 years now please let me go and get a shot of the cake before they cut it).

Mine was very run and gun as it was a last minute thing. I had two cams for the ceremony but only one for the reception. Make sure you've got some stabilization you can move around quickly with as well (no-one likes jittery footage). Monopods are really great or a light tripod or some kind of steadicam if you've got it.

Your brothers friend will be well aware it's your first time shooting, and I'm guessing you're doing it for a significantly reduced rate so don't feel too pressured. Just keep calm, catch all the key moments, get lots of pretty B-roll, maybe even take the bride and groom aside for some real money shots and then you can really find and craft the story in the edit.

Oh - and get friendly with the photographer as well. If you get them onside you'll be able to work together finding decent shots and angles. Plus it's always nice to have someone to talk to.

Good luck!

July 26, 2016 at 5:54AM

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Daniel Coates
Filmmaker | Editor
117

Daniel, thank you for the insights—it's always great to hear the about similar experiences from a new person's perspective. I'm impressed by your courage to shoot alone. I ended hiring a small crew, but I'm sure I'll end up having just as much trouble as you!

I'll only know a handful of people there, and none of them will be my aunts so it looks like I lucked out in that department as well.

Camera stabilization is a must, and the monopod steadicam idea is a good one too.

As per your suggestions, I'll stay calm, and do my job to the best I can. You're right, I'm not charging anywhere close to the typical price, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't treat my clients with the same level of professionalism as professionals. I'll be sure to breathe and get friendly with the photographer!

Thanks for the well-wishes!

July 26, 2016 at 8:07AM

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Lorenzo Ducai
Director/Cinematographer/Editor/Wedding Photographer
421

Update: My happy couple (the clients) also inquired as to whether I felt the honeymoon would be an important part of the "story" of the wedding. They said that if I felt it was important they wouldn't mind me tagging along in the backseat as they drive to their mountain lodge honeymoon about an hour away. That way, I could capture b-roll footage of the car and journey from the wedding, and the happy couple crossing the threshold to their honeymoon! They offered to pay me a bit extra for these moments, but it does add another day to my schedule, but it's not like I have any other clients at the current moment. Does anyone think the honeymoon shots will be too good to leave out? Or that they are a necessary part of the story? I'm on the fence about this one. Thanks for your time.

July 26, 2016 at 8:13AM

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Lorenzo Ducai
Director/Cinematographer/Editor/Wedding Photographer
421

Filming the honeymoon ;) *wink, wink, wink*

In all seriousness though, if they want to pay you to film it I find no reason not to do it. It may or may not work for the story but at least you have it and you get paid for it.

Tony Adalbert

July 26, 2016 at 11:27AM

If it doesn't fit the story in the end, you'll have extra footage that can be a standalone video. Just like the bloopers and the uncut 1 hour speech by her dad. :-p

WalterBrokx

July 26, 2016 at 12:31PM

Get some audio of people wishing them well, taking about their bright future, etc. End the film with that dialogue over the b-roll of them heading to the honeymoon and entering the cabin. End with a shot of them looking at the mountains or whatever with audio of their vows or something like that; make it like a denouement.

In your shoes, I would advise getting as much audio from the couple, parents, best man, maid of honor, reception toasts, etc. And grab as much footage as possible.

Then listen to the audio and take notes to find common themes and build your story from there!

You seem to have gotten lots of good advice here from everybody.

Good luck and share the link when you're done!

B Bond

July 29, 2016 at 8:32AM, Edited July 29, 8:32AM

"How would you tell the story of the wedding?"

I don't think there's any 1 way to do it. I see lots of wedding pros that have very different styles when it comes to their final edit, specifically what they include or exclude, and they can all be amazing. My advice would be to capture lots of natural audio throughout the day, make sure you get great clean audio for ceremony & speeches, and then look for the "in-between" moments with your couple: the glances, smiles, hand holding etc. Then when you edit it later, pull out the parts of the ceremony & speeches that are personal, and layer it with those special moments you captured.
Watching lots of wedding films from top-level pros will also give you some great ideas.

July 26, 2016 at 11:16AM

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Sean Kenney
Event Cinematographer
322

Very true: there is not only 1 formula for a good story. But you'll need proper ingredients and some 'recipe' to combine it in a tasty manner :-)

WalterBrokx

July 26, 2016 at 12:33PM

Thank you for the advice! I'll keep my eyes peeled for those "in-between" moments—which sound like they can make or break the entire video. Every "story" needs nuance, so I'll have to be in the lookout.
Thanks again.

Lorenzo Ducai

July 30, 2016 at 8:07AM

Feel free to use the drone handheld.
Test it before the wedding.
It might look silly, but in the end the endresult matters. You can even mock yourself by wearing a children's cap with propellor :-p (This sounds stupid, but it might be something that sticks in people's mind and might give you great BTS pics ;-) )

So you have experience with narratives. That is good.
The big difference here is that there is no take 2.
That doesn't mean you can't prepare a shotlist.

If you'd ask me: wedding videos are a mix of moodfilm, documentary and narrative.
But I only shot 1 wedding :-p (and decided it's not the market I'm after.)
Getting to know the photographer is important: I had a photographer stepping into my shots all the time (I did choose nice angles :-p ).

So keep an eye open for details, fabrics, light, the bride's tears when grandparents congratulate the couple, that kind of stuff :-p

July 26, 2016 at 2:41PM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9912

Thank you Walter.

I appreciate your comments regarding the details like fabrics and such. This is something I will most certainly keep a special eye out for today during the big event. (The happy couple spent so much time picking this stuff out, I might at least record a little of it!)

While I am a little nervous about no take 2, I feel confident with my small crew and all our cameras rolling.

We'll see how it goes. Thanks again.

Lorenzo Ducai

July 30, 2016 at 8:05AM

I'm by no means a wedding videographer (I hate shooting weddings). I've done a good 20 or so and I've done real documentary work.

My #1 recommendation is get as much audio as possible.
Get interviews or video messages with siblings/friends. Even the bride/groom if you can.
These people know the couple better than you, let them tell the story for you.

July 27, 2016 at 11:02PM

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Josh Wilkinson
Music Video Director/DP
350

Thank you Josh.

I feel as if I've been doing interviews all week! You're correct, they really provide the context and backstory necessary to flesh out a real story of the wedding. I've conducted a handful of interviews with the bride and groom (separately and together) too. As for audio, thanks to nofilmschool I've come to learn the importance of audio, and thus hired a pro sound man. I feel confident with him in my crew.

Thanks again.

Lorenzo Ducai

July 30, 2016 at 8:02AM

I've done a handful of weddings for friends. Never again... I hope you're being paid half-way respectably; I know how tough it is to get friends to actually pay you anywhere near what you're worth. I may be able to give you a bit of advice for how to make this work as a total one-man-band, though.

For the ceremony, I've usually set up 2 or 3 cameras on strategically-placed tripods then moved about with my best camera on a shoulder-rig to get a bunch of more cinematic insert shots. Instead of starting and stopping record as I re-position myself and my shoulder-mounted camera, I just keep it rolling the entire time as this makes syncing everything up in editing incredibly easy.

With 3 tripod-mounted cameras, I'll usually set up one central, wide master-shot of the ceremony, then set up the other two cameras as somewhat tighter mid-shots angled onto the action. If you have a 4K-capable camera, use it for your master-shot so that you can punch in 200% to 1080p levels for another angle on the ceremony. As I need to, I'll periodically move the two secondary tripod-mounted cameras. It's ideal to have zoom lenses on these cameras. As the vows and the kiss are coming up, I like to try to get them positioned so that you have a good two-shot from both the bride and groom's perspectives sort of like you'd want if you were filming a conversation in a narrative film. I always make sure that one of the cameras (preferably the un-moving master camera) has a decent mic mounted to it, and if it's a possibility with the wedding's sound system, I always try to hook up the sound system to record to one of the cameras. If you have an external audio recorder (I use a Zoom H4N), it wouldn't hurt to set that up somewhere on stage if you can't get decent audio from any of your cameras.

Before and after the ceremony, I pretty much just go all-handheld, though if there are going to be more than one or two short speeches I'll usually set up at least one additional camera on a tripod for that as well. If you have time, some slider shots from around the venue are an easy way to up your production value. As Josh Wilkinson said above, quick interviews and words of love and advice from the family and friends are always a good idea. I've never used a drone at a wedding, but if I did I'd probably just use it for establishing shots of the venue (people setting up, the wedding party taking photos, etc.). I definitely wouldn't use it during the actual ceremony.

Honestly, the best advice I can give you moving forward is that if your goal is to make money with your passion for filmmaking while simultaneously working towards a career in a non-wedding-videography field, don't do wedding videography. Unless you dedicate your life to wedding videography or live in an area where people will pay big bucks for wedding videos, I don't think you can make enough doing weddings as a periodic part-time gig to really justify the amount of time it takes. I make FAR more money with FAR less effort keeping tabs on OnlineVideoContests.com and entering a couple video contests per month (mostly commercial contests on dedicated crowdsourcing websites) than I ever could doing wedding videography, and I find the work to be vastly more enjoyable, as well as actually applicable to my narrative filmmaking dreams. But your mileage may vary.

Anyway, hope that helps!

July 28, 2016 at 4:41PM, Edited July 28, 5:03PM

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David West
Filmmaker
1291

What a great detailed setup plan! Thank you.

First off, I'm sorry weddings didn't work out for you—we'll see how they go for me. However, I am being paid decent enough for my first gig.

My setup will be fairly similar, the only difference being that I'll have an extra camera positioned toward the crowd so I can get immediate reactions.

My sound man will handle getting direct audio plug in, as per your excellent suggestion.

As for your career advice, I'm glad you showed me your perspective. I will try this wedding out and see how it goes. If it is not a good experience, I may try a new area such as those entertaining-sounding contests you enter, or I may try a few more weddings. But it's nice to know there are other options out there.

Thanks for your time.

Lorenzo Ducai

July 30, 2016 at 7:59AM

Glad I could help! And seriously, don't be sorry; I hate wedding videography with a passion. I've really only ever done it for close friends as a wedding present, but I find the work so miserable it sucks all the joy out of weddings. It was getting extremely frustrating having everyone I knew assume that I had the time or desire to film their wedding for them. I finally had to just start telling everyone an unequivocal "NO" even when they beg me to just set up one camera on a tripod and slap the footage on a DVD afterwards.

David West

July 31, 2016 at 1:25AM, Edited July 31, 1:25AM

Make sure the couple are aware of your experience and what they expect from you, have confidence in yourself but be realistic.

Practice shooting and editing at the venues if possible.

Take your girlfriend or similar with you, as well as your 12 year old cousin. You need someone to think about the next shot while you are concentrating on the shot at the time. Write a list of all the things you want to shot and make sure you get them, think in layers, macro, normal and wide.

Are you taking photos also, or is there a professional doing that, talk to them before and after, talk to the DJ or band about recording equipment.

I have just started filming last year and never done a real shoot, but I practice all the time and learn after each one the mistakes I made, each time I get better. Learn from your mistakes and practice practice practice and again.

Chris

July 30, 2016 at 12:48AM, Edited July 30, 12:48AM

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Chris
213

Thanks Chris!

I have a decent crew, so I don't think my girlfriend will be necessary for the shoot, but I will bring my cousin to be my personal assistant.

I've already been to the venue and documented the rehearsal, so I've been messing around with editing that footage and seeing how I can film it better. Good suggestion.

There will be a professional photographer separate from my team, and my pro sound man has gotten in touch with the DJ about their equipment and our setup, so I should be clear in that department.

Thanks again Chris, and I can't wait to see what you accomplish at your first real shoot!

Lorenzo Ducai

July 30, 2016 at 7:50AM

The wedding is today everyone! I cannot thank you all enough for your insightful tips (most of which I never would have thought up on my own). I feel pretty prepared, and will be periodically checking back in to see if you guys have any last minute tips for me! Thank you everyone. I'll report back tomorrow and tell you all how my first wedding video was. Wish me luck!

July 30, 2016 at 7:45AM, Edited July 30, 7:45AM

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Lorenzo Ducai
Director/Cinematographer/Editor/Wedding Photographer
421

Let us know how it went!

WalterBrokx

July 30, 2016 at 10:26AM

I wish you the best. Make sure to post your film when it's over! :)

Jonathan Bates

August 1, 2016 at 12:30PM

I hope it went well. I've shot more weddings than I care to count. Hated them all. I think you have to have a certain type of personality to do the work. I do remember my first (a long time ago) solo wedding. It was a nightmare because I was so uptight about not screwing it up. It came out terrible of course. :)

August 2, 2016 at 5:37AM

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Update: Thank you everyone for your kind responses. It's been a fairly busy week shuffling through all this footage. I'll leave a longer post later (most likely tomorrow) detailing my personal experiences with my first wedding video but I'll quickly say it was a great experience. Obviously, I still have a lot to learn and this weekend only cemented that in my mind, but I pulled off a solid first time video with no major crippling incidents and hopefully will do my crew's work justice in the edit. I just wanted to quickly lay the rumors that I had a terrible experience to rest, (I must have done something right, seeing as I already have another client!). Of course, none of this would have been possible without this great community here at nofilmschool, and I thank everyone who gave me advice (and even criticism...). I hope you all come back later so that I may repay you by sharing my personal insights and fresh lessons learned!

August 3, 2016 at 10:41PM

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Lorenzo Ducai
Director/Cinematographer/Editor/Wedding Photographer
421

Ninja, I never lied. I told my clients this would be my first video, and I charged them accordingly. They found the arrangement more than fair. I never posed as a pro. If your professional work is so much superior than clients should have no trouble paying the higher price for it. But at least now they have options, and it forces me to be more creative and it pushes you to be even better. This competition is overall healthy for the consumer, and when you want a wedding videographer, you'll appreciate having more options than just the overbooked $2000 guy at the top.

Lorenzo Ducai

August 9, 2016 at 10:40AM

Mate you can do it. I videoed a friend's wedding a year or two ago and was terrified. I am a good editor but not a great cinematographer, but the video turned out lovely and made them cry. A few tips:

- Ask the couple to send you wedding videos they like the look of, so you have an idea of their taste and what you're aiming for -
- As you're shooting on-the-fly and often spontaneous expect to have to wade through a lot of crap footage
- Find out the lighting arrangements of the venue - our venue was very bright and well-lit until they closed all the blinds on the windows right before the service so the groom wouldn't see the bride - made it really dark, nightmare! Try and suss that sort of thing out beforehand
- Get a list of people who HAVE to be in the video - I knew the bride well but not the groom so much and knew exactly who to film on her side but forgot to get any shots of the groom's granny!
- Just shoot a ton of stuff and you'll find a lot of gold in the edit

August 6, 2016 at 3:36AM

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Thank you Aideen for you reply, I particularly find your idea about listing the people who need to be in the video, I wish I had thought of that when I made the video, but I will surely use it in my future projects!

And Ninja, I completely agree with you, it's a waste of time to film unusable shots. Thankfully my crew was filled with pros and film school grads, and fortunately I was able to learn that 10-second or more lesson in my past working on narrative projects.

Lorenzo Ducai

August 9, 2016 at 11:24AM

Update: The video is complete and the clients now have it in their possession! I received a thank you phone call last night from the newly-minted husband, who said his new wife couldn't talk because she had just been crying over their video. I have received full payment for my video, and the whole venture is finally over. So I'd like to share my experiences.

I received this job roughly 2 weeks before the actual event. I turned to the nofilmschool community and received excellent advice. I spent my time until the big day watching wedding films, as well as interviewing the couple (both separately and together) and their close friends and family. I talked to the minister who would marry the happy couple and got a great dramatic monologue about what marriage means from a spiritual perspective which I used to open the narrative (he had a great voice too).

Me, my number 2 cameraman, and my sound man attended the dress rehearsal, and we made detailed notes of how to set up for the actual event. This was the most important part of the entire project, as I was able to map out unobtrusive locations for my crew as well as locations for all the various microphones and lighting setups. My advice: always plan copiously at the dress rehearsal.

On the big day, I arrived 3 hours early to set up. My little cousin took exterior shots of the venue with the drone, which served as great establishing shots. Due to my knowledge from the dress rehearsal, my crew managed to efficiently set up, and the ceremony went off without a hitch! We even captured the kiss from two different angles! Which the groom said was a nice touch.

The reception was quite straightforward, (aside from the groom's aunt flirting with me a bit). My sound man managed the microphones all night long, and we kept 3 cameras continuously rolling on the scene. I occasionally went outside to film partygoers in the surrounding field and forest, and I took a great couple of shots of the couple taking their first walk together as husband and wife by a quiet stream. Capturing these quiet moments surely added to the video, for they offered nice breaks from the party going on inside the big tent, and they grounded the story in the journey of the new couple. I made sure to not miss a moment of heartfelt speeches between my master shot camera and my B camera. Since I am more familiar with the attendees I also spent time capturing little bits of conversation here and there intimately, and there's even a humorous shot of me holding the drone around the couple during their first dance as a makeshift steadicam, (which also turned out great footage). These made the project.

Returning home, I spent several days syncing audio to the footage, and several more editing the entire project. It has taken a little over a week, but working sunrise to sunset got the job done!

In the end, I charged $1050 for my services, but the extra work I did brought my final income to $1550. I paid each of my crew members roughly $200 ($250 for my sound guy), which gave me a $700 profit in the end. Better than minimum wage! I already have two new clients, so it looks like my new business is booming!

I hope anyone dreaming of opening a wedding business can look to me and my success and gain inspiration to take action and go start their own. There are no prerequisites—only knowledge and passion! Good luck everyone, and thank you all so much for your insights throughout this process!

August 9, 2016 at 11:09AM

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Lorenzo Ducai
Director/Cinematographer/Editor/Wedding Photographer
421

Great to hear it was well recieved!

Now it is time for you to read about the cost of doing business:
http://blog.vincentlaforet.com/2013/08/01/how-to-succeed-as-a-creative-l...

Because the $700 isn't really the profit, but the turnover.
More than minimum wages is good, and it might help to build your portfolio, but it might not be enough to build a sustanable business as your gear will need to be replaced, you'll need insurrance and you will need to spend money and/or time on marketing.

WalterBrokx

August 13, 2016 at 10:18AM

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