Why cutting corners with videography will be your biggest wedding regret

I recently read a Facebook post from a bride-to-be, which really rattled my cage.

“I am looking for an amazing videographer in my area.
But I can’t seem to find one for a reasonable price”

(Bride-to-be, Facebook)

Cue umpteen reasonably OK videographers posting their website, availability and giving reasonable quotes.

Hey guys…. she said she wanted ‘an amazing videographer’ not a reasonable one! Oh, wait…

Don’t get me wrong; this bride was not, in her eyes, asking for anything out of the ordinary, and she’s certainly not alone in wanting a ‘reasonably priced amazing videographer’.

Our research, as a UK and international wedding videographer, shows that £1,000 seems to be a common budget for a videographer in the UK with more and more couples wanting to pay even less.

But here in lies the problem. Why are people expecting to get something for nothing?

If you’re one of those people wanting to pay a budget price for a budget film and happy with that, then just ignore my frustration.

But, if a wedding film IS something really important to you and your wedding, let me explain later what sets apart an ‘amazing’ videographer from a ‘reasonable’ one – apart from the cost of their services, of course.

Before that though, let’s look more closely at the issue here. I learnt from an early age, as I’m pretty sure you did, that ‘money does not grow on trees’…

When I was about 11-years-old, I dreamed of having a pony… but my parents could not afford one, so that was that. When I was 17-years-old, I wanted a new car like many of my school friends… but again, it wasn’t a reasonable expectation.

I hoped that on graduating from university I’d buy a house, but I was too in debt to buy anything, instead having to rent a studio flat for many years. And that was despite being one of the fortunate ones who actually left university with a good job in a career I’d worked hard to be in.

Throughout my 20s and 30s, I wanted many things… a bigger house, a more expensive car, to always wear nice clothes. My priorities changed when I got married and while I still wanted a bigger house (and maybe even a nicer car) I was also aspiring to have my kids at a better school and enjoy wonderful family holidays.

But the thing is. We can’t have what we can’t afford. Unless we want to end up in debt by buying things with plastic – I lived on the ‘never never’ for many years.

And, the other very, VERY important point to make here is that if we do want these things we have to expect to work harder and longer, be the best in whatever we do so we can demand the best salary and prioritise the things we want and value them – this often means saving and waiting.

For those of you who aren’t materialistic in any means, then you can benefit from feeling satisfied with your lot and being content with what you have. I admire every single one of you.

But, in the more realistic materialistic world we now live in, where supply and demand determine the prices we pay, the rest of us will have to accept that if there’s something we want and it’s ‘amazing’ then we’re probably going to have to invest good money for it.

Bargain blunder

I’ve recently learnt this lesson myself having booked a ‘five star, all-inclusive’ two-week family holiday in Egypt which on my own admission was for a ‘bargain’ price. From the moment we were herded onto the tour operator coach, I knew I’d made a serious misjudgement.

On arriving at the hotel, we were asked to wear bracelets to identify which board we’d booked… suddenly I felt more like a number than a valued client. And, while supposedly relaxing by the pool and letting our worries fade away, we were continuously hassled by hotel employees trying to sell us ‘snorkelling, diving, massage, family photo sessions’ and, to top it all off, we spent half the holiday very, very unwell despite being careful about what we ate and drank.

To cut a long story short, I wish I’d practiced what I preach and invested in my holiday and my memories. I booked a ‘package deal’ instead of a bespoke holiday tailored to me and my family’s individual requirements. In hindsight I would much rather have spent one week in a high-quality hotel and resort with a proven track record, than spend two weeks in a place where I just wanted to go home.

The one thing I won’t look back on in years to come, will be the saving I made. I will, however, remember what a let-down our annual holiday was for all our family. Next time WILL be different.

Angela and Richard Allerton Castle

Now let’s turn to weddings. Something you’ll hopefully only do once in your lifetime, so you need to get it right first time around …

It appears that couples expect to pay more for luxury venues, floral designers, high-end planners and Michelin caterers but when it comes to videographers, and photographers too, they some often think they can have ‘amazing’ for a ‘reasonable price’.

But for every wedding a videographer films and for every year we work we become better at what we do. Experience leads to expertise. And expertise can lead to a better product. Offering a better product should lead to higher earnings.

Picture this: you work hard in your career (whatever that may be), you get better with more time and experience and you get promoted. But sorry, there’s no pay rise with that promotion. Nothing in monetary terms to reflect that you’re better than the rest, you will have more responsibilities and could even spend less time with your family as you have to put more time into working. Would you go with it? Just for the promotion. No, I don’t think you would.

So, why should a videographer with experience and expertise, who has invested money in their equipment and training, and spent time and energy on marketing themselves in a competitive market then sell themselves and their services at a low-cut price?

That just doesn’t make logical sense.

Of course, there are videographers who SHOULD probably be charging more for their commissions but either don’t have the confidence to increase their prices or worry that they’ll lose out in a competitive market.

It’s not for me to teach the value of knowing your own worth as a filmmaker but I do see a big difference in overall pricing and delivery in the UK compared to the rest of Europe and the US, where videographers charge a lot more. More than double more.

Let’s get real

Don’t go looking for a high-end product, in this case a beautifully made wedding film, and expect to pay the same as if you commissioned a videographer not long out of film school, a photographer recently moving into videography, or one that hires in shooters and editors and churns out 70-80 films per year like a sausage factory.

The clients that book the ‘amazing’ videographers aren’t throwing money away just because they can. They’re investing in memories of their wedding in the best way they can, and they know that that comes at a price. Not an ‘unreasonable’ price, just one that reflects the value of what they are paying for.

Ewa + Peter // Steps from Story of Your Day

If you’re planning your own wedding – without the benefit of a planner who can explain realistic costings – it’s unlikely that you’ve spent a lot of time looking through wedding films to know how to identify what’s ‘high-end’ and ‘luxury’.

Recommendations aside, here are a few things to think about;

Experience

It goes without saying that the more you do of something the better you’ll get at it. Looking back at my weddings from just a few years ago and I can see how much my work has changed and evolved and improved so much since then.
So, a recommended starting point for working out whether a wedding videographer will be any good is to check what experience they have. Not in corporates, music videos or any other kind of videography, but as a wedding videographer.

That isn’t to a say a videographer working in another field of film won’t be any good but knowledge of working in weddings is crucial because it’s a completely different way of filming. A wedding is a live event. There’s no retakes and ideally there should be very little staged elements of the day.

It should be filmed in an unobtrusive way, capturing moments on film as they unfold naturally. In fact, the only part of the day you can (sort of) guarantee will have a formula is the ceremony and speeches. But these days, even this is a moveable feast.

With more experience, this will give your videographer more….

Expertise

Videographers that are experts in their field do not come cheap but their filming and editing skills ensures you are getting a highly-produced film which will be well worth the investment.

Their expertise means they will be disciplined in filming in live situations, as mentioned above, and all the while remaining professional, calm and unflappable. This means you can trust them to get on with their job effectively while you relax and enjoy your day.

In terms of the edit, that’s where the real skill and expertise lies… the difference between a music montage of highlights to bring back memories from the day and a cinematic film that evokes emotions, literally takes you back ‘into the moment’ and ultimately tells a story, your story.

There are many styles of wedding film … I have a love of audio visual language and the syntax of cinematography which means I edit all my films ‘frame-by-frame’, a painstaking process of selecting each individual shot ensuring it transitions to the next, in a storytelling style.

This passion for the finished films is shared by all high-end videographers… For every day filmed on location five days or so will be spent working on that footage in the edit. So while you may have thought some wedding films cost a lot of money, for those working with that ethos, it’s extremely good value for money.

Production levels and equipment

Filming and editing equipment is updating all the time and new productions techniques come and go like many other wedding fads. Wedding videographers at the top end of the market will invest not only in the latest equipment and technology but also in their own training and development.

Having said that, it’s not all about the gear used. Although it’s expected that at huge weddings with 300-plus guests there will be a need for more equipment it doesn’t have to turn into a ‘film production set’ and that isn’t the way to assess the quality of your filmmaker either.

I recently filmed a high-profile wedding at the Paris Opera House. I had two associate videographers working for me and during the ceremony and first dance we were using a set-up with six cameras. But there were no drones, jibs, cranes or any other paraphernalia. Just three amazing filmmakers with an expert creative eye.

It also goes without saying that if you’re looking for your ceremony and speeches to be recorded professionally then your videographer will have invested in the best audio equipment available and they’ll know how to use it to get the best sound for your film, which will take the production of your film to the next level.

Vicki + Hayden // First Dance from Story of Your Day

Having more than one videographer raises the production values so that we can be more creative and offer a more complete and cinematic look without being any more obtrusive. This is what you’re investing in… the highest of production values from the planning stages to the finished film.

Customer service

Many budget videographers are booked online. The first time they’ll be in contact with the couple is on the wedding day. Videographers who film 50-plus weddings a year just don’t have time to build a relationship with their clients. High end videographers make that time and are more likely to limit the number of commissions each year to ensure each and every one of their clients feels valued.

But it’s more than that. I like to get to know my couples, help them plan their day where necessary, learn all about their story so their film truly reflects them as unique. From the point of enquiry, clients should feel totally comfortable with a videographer as a person as much as a filmmaker. After all, who wants a complete stranger at their wedding filming intimate moments. You’ll feel so much more at ease with a videographer who you feel you already know before the wedding day itself.

This means time and time is an investment that all good videographers should make for their clients.

Cliched Vs Timeless films

Just as trends come and go with filming styles, film fads do too. High-end videographers don’t tend to follow these crazes… I’m thinking ‘Marrioke’ right now! But it’s more than that. Even if you were having a vintage wedding, for instance, you don’t need a vintage style film.

A good wedding videographer will capture the essence of your day and the film they produce should reflect your day in a timeless way, so you can look back in years to come and your film won’t feel dated even if the style of your wedding isn’t on trend anymore.

At Story of Your Day our films are as unique as the couples and their stories and as well as lasting the test of time our cinematic style ensures you’ll love your wedding film.

Boring but important business

All reputable filmmakers will not only be recommended by amazing suppliers and venues but they’ll also take the business element of filming seriously. Their company will be recognised by videographer and wedding supplier organisations and they will have the highest level of insurance cover and public liability.

Not only that but with the new changes in the law, they will be GDPR compliant, taking your data and privacy seriously and following all the correct protocols.

Plus, I’ve never see a high-end videography company take risks with music licensing because they not only understand the importance of this but appreciate the value of another artists work in monetary terms.

If you’re still not convinced, then ask yourself this: in years to come and you’re looking at your wedding film, will you be thinking about the money you might have saved or be thankful that you invested that extra cash in a beautiful, cinematic film evoking memories to treasure a lifetime?

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