The Beginner’s Guide to Wedding Videography

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Wedding videography is a very lucrative way to begin your videography career. Most of your work will be on the weekends, but that can offer benefits. 

This article will explore how to begin your career as a wedding videographer, best practices, and what you can reasonably expect to make a year. 

How to become a wedding videographer

Wedding videographer

First, let’s get one thing out of the way. More than likely you will need your own equipment. We will touch on that a bit later, but know the following methods will require it. 

There are two primary methods of becoming a wedding videographer. You can either start your own business, or you can work for another wedding videography business. 

Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of both. 

Working for another videography company

“Videography company” can be a bit abstract. Some videography companies can do weddings as their main business or side hustle.

There are companies that specialize in wedding videography and photography. However, a lot of video agencies offer it as one of many types of video services. 

You will likely be a freelancer for the company. A freelancer, or independent contractor, is someone who is not a full-time employee of the company and is only hired when help is needed. That’s the basis of most jobs in the film and video industry, so don’t let that scare you. 

A video agency will call in a freelancer they’ve worked within the past, or post a job listing on a website like Craigslist, Upwork, Fiverr, etc. You will get hired for either an hourly rate or a fixed rate agreed between both parties. You will do the job, get paid, and then move on and look for another job. 

Some wedding videography companies will have consistent job listings you can bid on. This is the easiest method for finding work.

Otherwise, you will have to continually look for new jobs on the previously mentioned platforms. This can be a bit exhausting, so working with an established company will take a lot of the burden off your shoulders. 

Unfortunately, weddings are not typically planned in a couple of weeks. You’ll need to be prepared to book jobs months or even years in advance. However, there is job security in that you can have your future laid out months in advance. 

Starting your own company

Videographer at a wedding event.

This route is extremely difficult. I would recommend working for someone else before starting your own wedding videography company. However, it’s also the classic chicken and egg story. You need to shoot weddings to get hired, but you need to get hired to shoot weddings. 

One primary method for accomplishing this is to shoot a few weddings for free. I’ve done this in the past with friends or family that can’t afford to hire a videographer. It puts less pressure on you because you weren’t paid for the job. It’s great practice as well.

This will give you footage for your reel, which most wedding videography companies will require. 

Let’s assume you are comfortable with shooting weddings and ready to start your own business. You can still accomplish this as a freelancer. You will need to come up with a business plan, which should include items like:

  • Equipment
  • Video packages
  • Business expenses
  • Estimated monthly/yearly revenue
  • Etc.

This article isn’t going to go into how to start the business, but these are some basic things to keep in mind. 

For insight tips on how to start a videography business check out 40 Video Company Owners Answer: “What I Wish I’d Known Before Starting My Video Production Business”.

What makes a good wedding video

Videography of the wedding ceremony with the groom
Pre-ceremony shots of the bride and the groom getting ready are important.

Luckily, 99 out of 100 wedding videos you do will likely be the same. There are generally three main parts of a wedding: pre-ceremony, ceremony, and reception. 

A lot of clientele today prefer a highlight video as opposed to seeing every single moment of the night. However, you should be recording every part of the day. Here’s a small list of items you can expect to shoot:

  • Pre-ceremony bride and bridal party getting ready
  • Pre-ceremony groom and groom party getting ready
  • B-roll of ceremony venue – building interiors/exteriors, decorations, guests, etc.
  • The ceremony
  • Post ceremony family photo taking
  • Reception b-roll – similar to ceremony
  • Reception bride and groom entrance
  • Speeches
  • Cake cutting
  • Dancing
  • Etc.

Basically, all of the big moments that happen at a wedding. As I mentioned before, most weddings are the same, so it’s not terribly difficult to remember.

These will be some of the items you will negotiate with your client on what needs to be filmed. We will explore that later when we talk about what to charge. Making a checklist of what to shoot is key. 

It’s always better to get more footage than enough footage. However, that will be something you need to decide for yourself. 

These moments will need to be edited together in an interesting way, so don’t be afraid to get crafty with your shots. It’s a good idea to stick to the basics until you’re comfortable, but that comes with practice. 

What you need for shooting a wedding video

Photography and film making gear

We will talk about equipment, attire, and some best practices on the shoot day. 

Equipment

One big rule of thumb is that the equipment won’t shoot the video for you. I don’t recommend spending a ton of money in the beginning until you start to become profitable.

I started out with one camera that shot on DV tapes back in 2009. I added equipment gradually over time as I was able to afford it. 

However, you can spend what you think is necessary if you have disposable income.

Here’s a list of some of the items you will need:

You will want to keep in mind you will always be on the run. Keeping a lean equipment list is good practice. One or two zoom lenses should suffice.

Have a couple of extra batteries nearby for a quick change. You can also get crafty by finding multiple ways to shoot with your tripod; turning it into a monopod, handheld rig, etc. 

Attire

Bride posing for wedding videographer

First impressions are important. It’s good practice to check with the bride about any sort of dress code. Most wedding videographers will wear a pair of dress pants or slacks with a nice polo.

A suit and tie or dress may not be practical, but you also want to respect your client’s wishes.

A t-shirt and jeans may not leave the impression you want on your new business venture. Remember that future clientele could be at the wedding.

Best practices

  1. You’ll likely do all of the planning with the bride. Be sure to get all of the details in writing before the wedding. This will save you a lot of headaches down the road. 
  2. Create a checklist of everything you need to shoot for the day in the order it needs to be shot. Create a schedule based on that checklist. 
  3. Charge batteries and test equipment the night before. You could do this a day or two early, but it’s recommended you do a check the night before. 
  4. Arrive early. You never know what camera worthy moments are waiting to happen. This will also give you a contingency for extraordinary events you may encounter on the road. However, don’t arrive so early that you are wasting your own time. 30 minutes or so is plenty of time to setup and be ready to shoot.
  5. Take breaks when needed. Production is tough on the body. It’s important to take a few moments when needed. Be sure to plan these around major events.
  6. A lav mic is your best friend if you need to record audio of the ceremony. Lav up the groom 10-15 minutes before the ceremony begins. This should pick up for audio for the bride, groom, and officiator. Here’s a guide on how to hide your lav mics.
  7. There will be down time between events. Use this time wisely to get b-roll shots that will make your video stand out.
  8. Relax and have fun. You should enjoy yourself as well.

What to charge for a wedding

The million-dollar question. The answer to this can be tough because a lot of it depends on your skill level, equipment, etc.

A novice wedding videographer won’t be charging the same rates as a veteran with their own company. What you charge will differ based on if you are running your own company or being hired as a freelancer. 

Creating packages is a good starting point. Most wedding videography companies will have three to five different packages. Most of these will differ on the number of videographers, the number of events to shoot at the wedding, and the length of the final video edit. 

Below are some sample packages from weddings I have shot in the past with my video company:

Standard – $1000

  • Single Videographer
  • Up to 2 Hours of Ceremony Coverage
  • Up to 2 Hours of Reception Coverage
  • 3-5 min. HD Highlight Video
  • 30 Day Turnaround

*Travel Fee May Apply

Deluxe – $1500

  • Two Videographers
  • Up to 2 Hours of Ceremony Coverage
  • Up to 3 Hours of Reception Coverage
  • 6-8 min. HD Highlight Video
  • 30 Day Turnaround

*Travel Fee May Apply

Platinum – $1800

  • Two Videographers
  • Up to 1 Hour of Pre-Ceremony Coverage
  • Up to 2 Hours of Ceremony Coverage
  • Up to 3 Hours of Reception Coverage
  • 6-8 min. HD Highlight Video
  • 30 Day Turnaround

*Travel Fees May Apply

Items Available For Additional Fee

  • Raw Footage
  • Additional Highlight Video Minutes
  • Additional Hours
  • Faster Turnaround

As you can see, most of the packages were based on how long I was required to shoot, the number of videographers, the length of the edit, etc. I also added additional fees for other material that could interest the wedding party. 

These sample packages are just a guide to help you decide what you can charge. You can increase or decrease your prices if you feel it is warranted. I’ve shot weddings for much cheaper when I was earlier in my career. 

What you charge a company as a freelancer will highly depend on the job. I have been hired for several weddings in the $40 to $75 an hour range. 

You will need to decide what makes sense for you. You really need to consider what it costs to run your business, what your general living expenses are, and what are your goals for the future.

If you consistently shoot weddings you can expect to make a decent wage throughout the year. Most videographers can make $40,000 to $75,000 a year depending on the location. One of the benefits of freelancing is you can make as much or a little as you desire.

Conclusion

Wedding videography can seem like a daunting business to break into. However, with enough practice, it can become very lucrative. People are always getting married, so it’s a reliable business to count on.

Use this article as a guide to get you started, but going out into the field is the best way to figure it out. Be patient, learn from your successes and mistakes, and in time you will be on your way to a profitable business.


Alex is a certified Adobe Premiere Pro video editor and independent filmmaker in the US. He is most known for writing, directing, and editing his debut feature film, Cashing Out, which has won multiple awards at film festivals across the US. Currently, Alex is the owner of AWS FILMS and works as a freelance video editor for several large companies and content creators.

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