Instant Replay

Instant Replay

By Eric Wallace

You’ll always treasure your wedding photographs, but only professional videography unites the sights, sounds and emotion of your monumental day. If you could relive the teary-eyed toast your best friend plans to give, or have the opportunity to revisit the realness of your vows on your anniversary, wouldn’t you?

“Video tends to capture the real emotion,” says Craig Michael, production manager of Memories in Motion. “When you watch, you really feel that emotion all over again.”

Some couples hesitate over wedding videos, thinking that still pictures will suffice and that the added costs may be too much. But although photographs are essential, video preserves much more of the full reality of the day. Recent brides agree: “I think a video is a necessity,” says Carrie Lindow. “Brock and I had a large wedding, and we wanted to be able to record all the speakers. We’re also musically inclined, and knew a video could capture all the music in the event.”

“We’ve always documented our lives with photographs,” says Amanda Winters, “but it was important not only to see but to hear the moments of our wedding. And a still image is just one moment, whereas the video shows the seconds between smiles and hugs.”

“Why video? I like the phrase ‘because life is in motion,’” says Kim Walker, co-owner of Cameo Productions. “Your emotions will fly by in a heartbeat — laughter shared with friends and family, eager anticipation as you walk down the aisle, tears of joy as you say your vows, a loving caress in your first dance, the fun and excitement of your reception. These moments are full of sights, sounds and motion, uniquely preserved on videotape!”

OK, you’re sold on a video. Don’t — we repeat, don’t! — have Uncle Charlie shoot it with his camcorder! You may save money, but the shaky footage and poor quality will leave you with far more regrets than fond memories. Find and book a professional production company as soon as possible.

“We’re already booking about a year in advance,” offers Walker. “Often a couple contacts us as soon as they set a date and start serious planning.”

To select your videographer, check the listings in this magazine or at, collect recommendations from friends and from your wedding planner, and then interview your prospects in person. Some things to note:

How experienced are they in video production?

Is shooting weddings a main activity or just a sideline?

Be sure to view several sample videos from each company. Make sure they seem tailored to each individual wedding, and aren’t cookie-cutter productions.

“We wanted an artistic approach, not ‘cut and paste,’” says Lindow.

Look at the overall image quality, assess the professionalism of the camerawork, listen carefully to the soundtrack, and get a feel for the editing style. See if everything fits your taste.

Some other important things to learn:

• Does the videographer seem sensitive to the needs of your wedding? Be alert to anyone who “knows it all” and wants to do everything without input from you. Do they treat you with interest and respect, answering all your questions completely?

• Will you have a choice of styles? For example, if you want a leisurely, romantic video, make sure the company isn’t intent on pushing flashy, MTV-like editing.

• Will their equipment be unobtrusive yet produce good quality images and sound?

• Can they shoot everything without getting in the way and without making their presence too obvious? (“Nobody likes paparazzi!” says Michael with a laugh.)

• Can they guarantee minimal intrusion during the ceremony but actively shoot the reception activities?

• And what about cost? Expect to pay anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars. First, find a good videographer, then pick the package you can afford.

“The old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ is very, very true,” says Walker. “Quality is never an accident, and this is especially true with video production. Excellent videography is comparable in price to excellent photography.”

Your best approach may be to negotiate a “package” price — one that includes all shooting at the ceremony and reception, editing, music, titles, narration and a designated number of finished video copies.

“There are many variables and many packages — everything from pure basics to all the bells and whistles,” says Michael. “But each should be tailored around the specific couple and the day’s events.”

One absolute must: Get a signed contract and read it carefully, making sure there are no hidden costs.

Once you’ve made your choice, how much should you be involved in planning and producing the video?

“We start with a couple through their planning stages and work with them right through the wedding day,” Walker notes. “We encourage couples to think about what specifics they would like filmed. Their selections will direct our shooting and editing choices.”

On the wedding day itself, leave most of it up to your videographer. You want to appear in your story, not be the director!

Ultimately, if there’s a good balance between solid input from you and lots of creative work by the professionals, you’ll have a video you’ll treasure.

“When we first saw our video, Chris and I were just amazed, jaws dropped,” says Winters. “We were able to see moments of our day that would have gone unnoticed or forgotten. It turned out so beautiful! It brings tears to our eyes to relive it all.”

“We’re thrilled with our wedding video,” says Lindow. “It’s very vivid, and it has great montages. It will be wonderful for our kids to see. Also, we’ve found many things in the video that we missed during the wedding itself, and it’s terrific to watch them now!”

Walker smiles. “When a bride tells me she got the same nervous jitters watching her video that she did on her wedding day, then I know we’ve created a memory to last lifetimes.” I