How to get into Filming Weddings

This is a question we often get asked, "So, how do you become a wedding videographer?" To be honest, Brianne and I started this whole business as a joke - really. It all started one day back in August of 2012 when we both decided to start a business doing what we love. What first started out as snippets of our personal lives of our adventures, turned into brand projects for businesses and things of the like. We were intrigued by filming hilarious moments and editing them into a polished montage that we still have to this day.

During our stay in London, Ontario I decided to post an online ad for Videography, on Kijiji to be exact. We left school at the time, finding it unsuitable for our desires. What started as a slow trickle of prospective clients slowly turned into a steady stream of people interested in our services over the course of a couple years. While both of us were working full-time jobs and filming weddings & events, we purchased all the equipment required to film professionally, there will be more on this down below. Eventually we took the plunge and went full time when the demand for our services seemed to be able to sustain us financially.

Before we took the full-time plunge I made sure that I adequate savings were stored as a backup should anything go sour. You know how it goes - you gotta pay the bills, the groceries, the car, insurance, etc.

Advertising

So at this point, we have already acquired all of the equipment and are ready to take on as many weddings as possible as we've filmed a few and were comfortable with them. What's going to keep us steady and in demand? Great quality work and advertising. Ah yes - advertising. The dreaded advertising. What keeps most businesses alive. Word of mouth is great once the snowball is rolling down the hill, but how do you get that small snowball over the hill? Advertising and back linking on a variety of sources is what got us started. Some of these sources include: Wedding directories, Kijiji (of all places), Facebook Ads, Google Adwords, we even went as far as getting our business a spot on a pizza box in Brampton (it didn't work haha). What works the best? This really depends on your target audience, budget, and determination. Advertising takes up so much time that it can be a part time job on it's own (up to 20 hours per week).

Equipment

What equipment do you need to run a quality wedding videography business? The following equipment is of the highest quality per dollar, most reliable equipment that is tried and tested by our team.

This is just a small list:

Please note that by clicking on the Amazon link, you are clicking on my Amazon affiliate links. I do receive a small commission which does not cost you a penny more.

Framing, Composition & Style

Now that you've got the equipment, it's time to talk about style. Your framing and composition will be a style of it's own. If you would like to learn composition, a great place to start is from my highschool days, is Cyber College. Let me warn you, the website looks a bit 90's but all of the information is still quite valid. I can recall all of the courses and quizzes we were instructed to study during class. Personally, I found studying on the website and taking the quizzes to be a breeze. It was an easy and effective way to educate myself about the topics of film. Another wonderful resource for Wedding Filmmaking are the YouTube channels: Wedding Film School, White in Revery, Matt Johnson, Ray Roman. The work of all of their work is unique and attracts a certain audience. Your style will take some time to acquire, like fermented sauerkraut. It doesn't get tasty until the fourth week. You can't expect the sauerkraut to taste great the first week. Actually, in the first week the sauerkraut tastes awful and smells it too!

Post-Production & Editing

Software is another importance choice, once you start on your path, you most likely won't embark on a journey with another software. Here are a few programs to choose from:

The most popular and most ergonomic software to this date is Adobe Premiere CC which is what our studio uses. Being a non-linear editor that has been around since 2003 it has most of the bugs ironed out. It has a fantastic warp stabilization (in CC 2018), Lumetri Color, and many assets that are standard that make it a very valuable and worthy platform.

Contracts, Payments, Paperwork & Taxes

Now comes the fun part, the paperwork and bookkeeping. Because you're self employed and serious about starting a business, you should most definitely have a drafted contract written by an experienced intellectual property lawyer (IP). An approximate cost for this will vary between $200-$1,500, you can use an experienced freelancer on Freelancer.ca if you're on a tight budget but make sure you get a contract made. Writing a contract using clauses from Google is not recommended. Once you have a contract, you're ready to book people in for dates. The industry standard is 33.3% of package/service price due upon signing of the contract in order to secure your client's date. I would recommend taking good care of contracts, invoices and payments to keep everything organized using a filing cabinet (even a small one from Ikea). The payment methods we accept are via e-transfer, bank draft, or money order. I have heard horror stories about accepting payments via Credit Card and for this reason, we do not accept Credit Cards. E-transfer is the most popular method of payment and is easy, convenient, and free for many via online banking.

Ah yes, cue the Taxman. The taxman is to come after the new year. So guess what? As much as it feels nice and provides a sense of security collecting payments from your clients, be sure to reserve 15%-20% for your taxes. And if you're a business that grosses more than $30,000 in revenue per year, you are required by the law to charge and remit HST to the government. If you gross less than $30,000 per year, you may still voluntarily sign up for an HST account which makes sense in my eyes as you pay HST on your equipment anyways, which you are able to deduct off the HST that you collect from your clients. That's the same as the 13% HST that is charged on all commodities in Ontario. When you collect this extra tax, be sure to set it aside so that you have it saved for tax time. When it comes to purchasing equipment, or any business-related expense, save your receipts as they are deductible off of your taxes, including the HST you paid on all of your equipment. All of your business-related receipts are deductible as long as you follow the criteria. Our favourite free invoicing/receipt software is WaveApps, with an alternative being NutCache. They are both great and have all the flexibility you need to get the business going.

The Actual Filming Part

So, now that you know how to acquire a few bookings, you've got the equipment listed above or similar equipment and how have the paperwork all signed and filed. How do you go about filming the actual wedding? After referencing the Wedding Film School, White in Revery, Matt Johnson, and Ray Roman you understand the style that you're after but how do you go about filming the actual wedding. Firstly, the wedding couple that have asked you to film their wedding most likely provided you with an itinerary- a plan of their entire day. If you're filming the wedding alone, start out at the bride location and begin by filming the elements that stand out the most to you. Were there balloons at the front of the drive way? Are there flowers in the garden bed? Maybe there's a nice view of the home from behind the bushes/trees? All of these things help to bring the viewer closer to the feeling of what it is like for you to be an attendee of the wedding. You want to produce a film that resembles what it's like to attend the wedding as a bridesmaid or groomsman so that the couple have a recollection of their day years down the road. Make sure you scout out all the things that would make their wedding film more personal, photos of the couple in a picture frame, and anything else that you can add to give sentimental value to the film (these shots are called b-roll). Here is a typical shot list of the essentials that you should try to film:

Bride's Preparation:

  • Establishing of Bride's location (details, flowers, home, picture frames, environment)

  • Laughs of Bridesmaids, smiles, what everyone is doing

  • Couple shots of makeup/hair being done and the artist that is doing the work, details of brides hands, lipgloss being applied, etc.

  • If the Bride is reading a letter written by the Groom, capture that letter and the audio using an external recorder

  • Make sure to get shots of the dress being zipped up/laced after the Bride puts the dress on in private, shot of who is helping the Bride, reaction of Bridemaids looking at Bride with excitement

  • First look with Bride's father

Groom's Preparation:

  • Establishing of Groom's location (details, flowers, home, picture frames, environment)

  • What the Guys are doing

  • Groomsmen getting ready

  • Shot of the top three buttons being done

  • Cuff links being done

  • Suspenders, vest, tie/bow tie, jacket, pocket squares, boutineer, etc. Try to get creative with all of your shots or when you get to composing it will look stagnant.

  • Letter reading by the Groom of letter written by Bride

  • Gift exchange with the Groomsmen,

Ceremony:

  • Establishing of the Ceremony location

  • Set up recording of audio through venue microphone (if applic.) place a portable wired, not wireless microphone on the groom that is recording and place it on hold so that nothing interferes with its recording. Wireless microphones suck for interference, which is why wired is the only way to go.

  • Shot of the Bride walking down the aisle, Grooms reaction, exchange with Father

  • Officiants words spoken, Vows, Rings being put on, The Kiss, and walking down the aisle as Husband and Wife, the Recessional, etc.

Photography Session:

  • This is entirely up to you to decide what poses and things you like to have your couples do during the photography session. As a beginner, you can follow the photographer's lead and let them do the staging for you and capture their already staged shots or add your own movement into them. Take a look at what some of the resources listed above do during their photography session. It really helps when you have couples that are invested in their film and want to do things with you, the videographer.

Reception:

  • Cocktail hour (if schedule permits it)

  • The entrances

  • The speeches

  • The first dance, the mother son dance, father daughter dance

  • Bouquet toss, cake cutting, and any games

  • Handheld dance shots

That's about it! You've filmed a wedding and you've got the footage on your trusty SD cards. Now it's time to edit the film, that's an entirely different ball game.

Editing

This part is completely up to you and will depend on what style of wedding film you are after and what the couple has told you they envision for their day. If you have seen a highlight film that you or the couple really enjoyed, start to dissect it and rip apart how it was created. Start with the audio and how the audio segments (letter reading, vows, speeches) were used and try to search through your footage and audio to see if you have something that will match the song that you are using. Please make sure to license the music you are using, some of the sites we use are MusicBed, TripleScoopMusic, Artlist, SoundStripe. In order to colour grade your footage, you will need to look up some tutorials on YouTube as I won't go in-depth into how to colour grade.

Delivering

Delivering the Highlight Film and/or Ceremony & Speech Edit (aka. Documentary Edit) will be rather easy if you are delivering via a USB drive. We deliver our films on a 16GB wooden USB drive that is laser etched in the U.S. by a craftsman. If you are a beginner, a USB drive from BestBuy or similar tech store should be fine.

That's about it guys! That's just a small insight into the entire wedding film process, it's just a partial look into the business and how to start a wedding film business on your own if you are interested. I hope this helped you out, and all the best until next time!

- Michael

Michael Kalman