Hitched 2.0: 10 Questions To Ask Videographers

I’m obsessed with wedding videos. I absolutely love watching those three-minute “trailers” that highlight the excitement, speeches, and kickass (or awkward) dance moves that occur throughout the day, all set to some sort of intense and emotional soundtrack. But when I started my hunt for our wedding videographer, I quickly realized there’s a lot more to it than that. As my fiancé and I moved through various awkward meetings with potential videographers, we refined the list of important questions to ask—which I now share with you…

1. Do you provide the digital file of the video?

It seems that most videographers these days post the videos they create on a site like Vimeo. While that’s definitely convenient and easily accessible, it would be nice to also have the actual digital file to do with what you please—and to have in case something ever happens with the video hosting site or page. Find out if your videographer will provide you with the file of your video, either via a file-sharing service like Dropbox, or on a flash drive.  

2. Does your price include only a ‘trailer’ or also an edit?

Videographers offer so many different packages and options, and it’s beyond overwhelming. Before you start contacting people, get an idea of what you’re looking for—do you want just a highlight video? Do you want a full cut of the ceremony? Once you know what the end goal is, you can head into your meetings prepared and ready to negotiate. For example, if the videographer you love offers a package that includes a full cut of the ceremony, an edit of the reception and a trailer, but you’re only interested in one of those things, you can likely re-work the package—and the price—to your liking.

3. What’s your backup plan if you can’t make it?

Similarly to the photographer, your videographer likely isn’t working with some big company that has multiple people on hand for your wedding alone. So make sure you are aware of the backup plan if, by some crazy chance, your videographer is unable to make it to your big day. Does he or she have an assistant or friend in the industry who regularly subs in? How will you be notified if something happens? Sure, it’s unlikely that this backup plan will be necessary, but better to relieve yourself of the potential stress early on just in case.

4. How many cameras/videographers do you use?

Does your videographer work alone, moving about your wedding to capture special moments as he or she sees fit? Or does he bring a second (or third!) shooter to cover more ground? Talk through the set-up and make sure you’re happy with it. While having multiple videographers on site will allow them to cover more ground (think: a shot of you walking down the aisle and a shot of your fiancé’s reaction as you do so), one videographer is typically cheaper. One potential compromise that we’ve run into: One videographer who brings a second camera to set up on a tripod.

5. Where do you get your music for the video? What’s the process of selecting it?

If your videographer will be posting the video online, chances are she’ll have to pay licensing fees for the music. Find out how your videographer gets the music for the videos, if there are any restrictions (They may be able to use ‘popular’ music—think Beyonce—for the digital file they send you for personal use, but have to use something else for the videos that will be hosted online), and if you get a say in what songs are picked.

6. Do we get to see a rough cut before the video is finalized?

Though I don’t have any actual experience with it, I imagine editing hours and hours of wedding footage down to a 5-minute highlight video is a tedious process. That said, your videographer might not be too keen on showing you a cut and then re-doing it based on all your specific suggestions. Or maybe he is cool with doing it, but for a fee. If providing feedback before the video is finalized is important to you, be sure to make that clear from the start.

7. How long does it take for you to edit the video?

I’ve heard everything from four weeks to six months. The timing all depends on how busy your videographer is, how many videos you’re getting, if you’re working in rounds of review, and about a million other factors. Whether you need the video by a certain time (renting out a theatre for a public viewing, perhaps?) or just want to mentally prepare yourself for the torture of waiting, it’s probably a good idea to find out what kind of time frame you’re looking at.

8. What if we don’t want you to share it publicly?

Videographers rely on displaying their work publicly to generate interest and get jobs. That said, if you’re not keen on having anyone and everyone see your personal wedding video, it’s possible he or she can keep yours private—but probably only if you ask.

9. Do you cover transportation costs?

My fiancé and I ran into this question when reviewing a contract for one videographer we almost hired. Transportation costs never crossed my mind—nor were they mentioned in any previous pricing discussion—until I saw a clause on the contract that noted we’d be responsible for covering cab fares and/or parking fees throughout the day for the videographer and his team. Avoid being surprised by additional or hidden fees and ask about this one up front.

10. Do you ‘direct’ at all?

I personally want my videographer to be a sort of “fly on the wall.” The best wedding videos I’ve seen are the ones that capture the most candid and natural moments as the day goes on. So, I made sure to ask my videographer what his style was, and if he stands back, or jumps in to help “create” moments for the film. Discuss your potential videographer’s approach, style and philosophy right from the start, and make sure you’re on the same page as far as what you consider a successful end result.