Your wedding day is awesome. You've spent years getting to know each other, months planning a wedding, and it all culminates in this one day surrounded by everyone you love the most.
After filming hundreds of weddings and spending years of my youth in front of the computer editing them, I wrote this list for you. I want to give you the best video to remember what's going to be the best day of your life. So here are some pointers to help make that happen!
All images in this guide are provided by the very talented Shelly Anderson Photography.
The biggest factor in making the images and video from your day *amazing* is plain and simply the natural light.
Natural light will help your skin look gorgeous, giving it shadow and depth instead of a weird, yellow, flat tint from a lamp or fluorescent light. We hardly notice these tones with our eyes, but cameras don't have that state-of-art retina technology yet.
The time of the day you have most control over this is when you’re getting ready. Make sure you pick a place that has LOTS of natural light. The more the better! You could even get ready outside, I wouldn’t complain. As many events of your day that are outside--the better!
Typically your makeup artist will start your hair and makeup before I arrive. Make sure she sits you in natural light by a window. That way, when I show up I can start capturing immediately, and not wait until we can “stage” shots in better light. I want the real stuff!
If you feel like you’re home or hotel doesn’t have a great lighting situation, explore airbnb rentals for a day! It’s worth it.
The best part of your video will be the story that it tells. It’s what draws others in and what keeps them watching.
It makes my heart so sad when I’ve captured incredibly beautiful visuals from a wedding day—but there’s no story to go with it. Your day should be more than a music video!
You and your fiancé have an incredible story that has led you to this day. So let’s hear it!
If you’re writing your own vows, think about incorporating your story into them (see ideas below). If there’s no way personal vows are doable, think about exchanging letters before the ceremony or during the first look.
Tell your officiant your story and ask if he can include pieces of it in the ceremony.
Tell your maid of honor and best man to make sure they plan an awesome toast with specific moments of you and your fiancé’s relationship that stand out to them.
Toasts are SO important to your video that I’ve also created a whole separate guide for anyone giving a toast at your wedding.
But to get you started, here are some questions for you, the officiant, and the toasters to think about:
+ How did you first meet?
+ What attracted you to the other person?
+ When did you know they were "The One"?
+ What do you appreciate about the other person?
+ What specific memories of your relationship stand out to you?
Here is a link to an officiant who absolutely nailed it.
Here’s another link to a couple whose vows will make you sob.
Here’s a link to a hilarious and heartwarming film narrated by the father of the groom.
Ah, the beauty of golden hour. It’s that hour before the sun goes down when everything the sun touches looks absolutely magical. This is the best time for portraits, hands down. Even if you’ve already done a first look and some photos earlier in the day, you’ll want to make sure there’s time to run outdoors and take advantage of the light before the sun goes down!
The biggest threat to golden hour is family photos. If you’re ceremony ends 30 minutes before the sun goes down, that time will easily be filled up with family shots. Think instead about doing family photos at the reception instead. Your mom will thank you when she frames that amazing portrait of you and your new hubby.
Many couples feel like doing a first look will take away from the moment they walk down the aisle and see each other for the first time. The question to think about is if you want that first look moment to be public—with hundreds of eyes on you—or private between you two.
First looks are also a GREAT way to minimize nerves. If you feel like you might be jittery in front of a ton of people for the ceremony, first looks help put you at ease knowing your best friend is right there with you.
There's no right or wrong way to do this. Some couples just hold hands around the corner and talk to or pray together without actually seeing each other. I've even seen a bride wear an inflatable dinosaur suit to her first look. (True story! It was HILARIOUS!)
Once ceremony is over it’s go-time. There are photos to take and dances to dance and food to be feasted on! There’s not much time in the day for you two to be alone together and soak up the sacredness of it all. A first look helps give you that time to simply be still with each other. Not to mention, it also gives us great time to knock out lots of photos of you two when you look your best!
There’s one thing that heartfelt moments of laughter with your girls and tears while reading your groom’s letter have in common: they weren’t staged. You’re not an actor and I don’t expect you to be one.
But in order to do that, I need to have time, and you need not to feel rushed. So give yourself LOTS of wiggle room in your schedule. The last thing you want to do is have to rush through your portraits and first look since you didn’t plan enough time for getting ready. Give yourself much more time than you think you need!
Here’s what I suggest for time for the most time crucial parts of your day:
+ Have your dress on 30 minutes before the first look, giving us time to set up your groom.
+ Allow for 45-60 minutes of portrait time with you and your groom.
+ Allow 30 minutes for bridal party portraits.
+ Have all pre-ceremony photos done 30 minutes before the ceremony, allowing me to get tripods and mic's set up.
Weddings are just plain simpler when everything is in one spot. Unlike photographers, us videographers need more time in setting up the audio and tripods for your ceremony and reception, so having everything in one place allows us to hop to things quicker and leaves more time for capturing you while you’re getting ready!
If you feel like there’s not a great spot at your venue to get ready, well then I defer to Rule #1. :)
I can’t tell you how many times couples go in for the kiss and ten cell phones go up in the air. I do my best to stay in the background as much as possible, so that often means I’m shooting over the heads of guests, focusing on you two. But the second that cell phone goes up, my shot is of a nice blurry iPhone screen. Pretty sure you don’t want that in the highlight reel.
To help guests unplug, think of putting up a sign or having your officiant encouraging guests to put away their phones for their ceremony so they can be truly present to what’s going on.
This one may be personal preference. But if I'm being honest, uplighting is the bane of my existence. Tones of harsh purple, pink, or yellow aren't exactly flattering on your skin during your first dance or the toasts. And unlike photographers, I can’t just opt to turn in black and white in the edit.
Bistro and string lights will look way more flattering with your skin and create a whimsical and magical ambience.
The thing is, a lot of DJ's think they have to use uplighting since maybe in came in the package you bought. Just tell them you're cool without it.
If you want a crazy party with all kinds of lights I’m game for that! Just save it for the party, maybe not the formal dances or general ambience during dinner.
[Note: Certain, cheaper LED lights used also cause rolling stripes to appear when used with video. It's a long technical explanation, so I'll spare you the details. If this happens, I'll just kindly ask the DJ to dim them while I'm filming.]
No matter how much you plan, just expect things to not go exactly as planned. Which is okay! A wedding day is still just one day; your marriage is what matters.
At the end of it all, you two will be joined forever. That's pretty amazing.
And as your videographer, I feel extremely honored to capture and be apart of such an incredible part of your story.