I shot my first wedding film in October and recently edited the footage into a complete video product which was greatly appreciated by the newly married couple. It was a long day of filming which I mostly enjoyed but there were a few challenging situations which I’d like to talk about, and also provide general advice on filming a wedding.
- Have an assistant. It’s difficult to shoot a wedding on your own. Not impossible though, I did it all by myself. All you need is really good story telling skills while editing the video in post production and perhaps compact and lightweight equipment to use on the wedding day. I would recommend working with a partner who could provide additional coverage for your wedding film. For example, I didn’t get a chance to film the guests arriving at the ceremony venue, or even get shots of the wedding rings and general views of the ceremony hall itself because I was busy filming the bride and bridesmaids who were late getting ready, and I really wanted to get a shot of the bride putting the wedding dress on as well as the bridesmaids receiving gifts from the bride. Furthermore, an assistant could have filmed from a different angle which would have given me more creative choices when editing the video, for example, regarding the bride walking down the aisle accompanied by her dad.
- Record quality sound of the speeches. Try to record the highest quality sound possible by positioning your camera and mic close to the couple yet staying on the side of the audience. Using radio microphones would be ideal for the ceremony and readings but this isn’t always possible. Unluckily, I ended up in one of the corners of the hall, opposite to where the couple stood and behind two people who gave readings. The sound I got from a shotgun microphone mounted on the GH4 was alright. It was quiet but not too bad presumably because of the acoustics in the hall.
- Cooperate with the wedding photographer. Every wedding has a photographer, and wedding photography is often more popular than wedding films I believe. Therefore, it’s the wedding photographer that usually directs the couple’s poses and actions during picture-taking which you can use to your advantage. I also suggest you discuss ideas with the wedding photographer, know each others intentions and stay out of each others way whenever possible.
- Avoid showing the wedding photographer in your film. If you intend on telling a magical story about all the amazing moments that occurred during the special wedding day of two people in love, then I would suggest excluding the wedding photographer and your assistants from any shots that you decide to use in your wedding film. External figures may distract viewers of the wedding film from the emotion it’s trying to convey.
- Stay around the bride. If you have now idea what’s about to happen in any given moment during the day, stay around the bride. She’s the star of the day and anything that happens away from her is generally not that important.
- Carry light-weight and compact equipment. As an advocate of minimalist video production, I advise you to use as little equipment as possible that is light and compact and that you can easily carry around. I also recommend shooting hand-held or with a basic easy-to-set-up camera stabilizer instead of a tripod in order to stay mobile and never miss capturing brief emotive moments.
- Don’t film people eat. After the wedding ceremony, everyone will go have a meal of several courses. I don’t think there is any valuable information in shots of people eating so would recommend you go have your break especially if the speeches are over.
- Don’t show drunken behaviour. When the bride and the groom have their first dance, the party will begin. Some people on the dance floor may be drunk already, others a little merry. To preserve the message of the film, I advise you to avoid filming any ridiculous drunk behaviour, such as people finding it hard to stay up on their feet or dance with an intoxicated facial expression. Instead, include everyone’s best dance moves, possibly in slow motion.
- Identify best parts of speeches. While editing the wedding film in post, listen to the speeches a few times and select the best parts to use as voice-over. The best parts are usually a few sentences that conclude a speaker’s point, and can make sense on their own. The bride is very likely to remember the speeches and expect you to feature her favourite sections.
Weddings ceremonies vary in different cultures and religions. I basically spend the day following the bride and capturing the nearby occurring moments. I brought a suitcase with me containing Panasonic GH4 with Samyang 12mm F/2.0 lens and Lumix 42.5mm F/1.7 lens, basic glide camera stabiliser, and a tripod (which I didn’t use a single time). I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Here’s a link to my cinematic wedding film – https://vimeo.com/149617469