Over the past several years, we’ve seen a lot of wedding cinematography studios popping up in Chicago…and all around the country. The low cost of entry into video production has allowed many hobbyists and college students to quickly put together a website and throw up a few videos online, but are they really the ones whom you want to document one of the most important days of your life?
When we receive calls from brides, one of the most common first questions is, “How much?” Although that might be an important question to ask, there are a few other questions that are as important…or even more important than cost. We also realize that it may be unnerving to shop for a wedding videographer; especially when you may not know much about technology. Fear not! We’ve put together a list of the top ten most important questions you should ask your wedding videographer or cinematographer:
1.) Are YOU going to be my videographer?
Couples assume the person they’re meeting with or talking to on the phone will be the one filming their day. This may seem like a basic question, but don’t assume anything. Always ask who it is. We’re aware of several companies who “farm” out wedding jobs. Basically, they’re a booking service. The brides call the studio and they pair the bride up with a videographer. They’ll even let you meet the videographer beforehand. However, the videographer you meet 8 months before your wedding may very well not end up being the videographer on your day. That’s why it’s important to ask your videographer how long they’ve been working for the company. Which brings us to our next question…
2.) How long have you been in business? How many weddings have you filmed?
As with anything in life, the more experience you have, chances are the better you are at it. Filming weddings is the exact same way. The more experience a company has with filming weddings, the more they can anticipate for the unexpected…and get better shots.
3.) Is your business insured?
Let’s face it, accidents do happen. Accidents happen even more with those who have less experience. They get careless, cut corners, and things happen. Unforeseeable circumstances shouldn’t have to worry you on your wedding day. Make sure you have peace of mind that your wedding videographer/cinematographer (and all the vendors you hire for your wedding day) are insured. If a wedding videographer doesn’t have insurance, chances are they are new to the industry or simply aren’t taking their business seriously. Some venues may even require your vendors to have a certain amount of coverage or provide certificates of insurance (COI), naming the venue as an insured on their policy. Professional video production companies will be able to quickly provide this for you. Requesting a COI creates additional work for the insurance companies, which may trigger a cost to the videographer. Some studios may charge a fee for processing your COI request.
4.) May I watch a full wedding film?
Wedding photographers are notorious for this. They’ll post one photo from each wedding they capture, throw that up on their website and call it a day. Brides will go to their website, look through the photos and hire them based on that. The thing is…the bride will have no idea how the photographer captures the whole day. Seeing a full album will really give you the perspective you need to see how your day will be captured. The same goes for video. Many videographers will have trailers or highlight videos on their websites, but that doesn’t give you a good idea of how the entire day will be captured and delivered. Ask to see a full film that they’ve completed recently. Watch the film and see if you like the style. Watching a full film will give you a pretty good idea of whether you’ll want to proceed with booking a certain videographer.
5.) Have you worked with other companies I’ve already hired?
Ask other vendors you’ve already hired if they’ve worked with XYZ videographer. Referrals are our best source of leads. Working well with others in the field and having a good reputation in the industry are important. Likewise, be sure the videographer and photographer you’ve hired can work together well. There’s a long-standing rivalry between many photographers and videographers. We can’t tell you how many photographers we’ve worked with who think the wedding is nothing about the couple and is everything about them. Cut out the drama before your wedding day by asking the right questions. For a list of photographers we’ve worked with and can recommend, check out our wedding photographers list in our Chicago Wedding Vendor Bridal Guide.
6.) Do you have a backup camera?
People who take their business seriously will frequently maintain their equipment properly. How do you know if someone maintains their equipment? There many not be a sure-fire way to tell…especially during an initial sales meeting. However, if something does happen, you’ll want to know that your videographer has backup gear available.
7.) Do you deliver RAW or EDITED footage?
Many low-cost wedding videography studios out there give away raw footage with most of their packages. It almost seems like something they throw in to “seal the deal”. They’re really doing themselves and the rest of our industry a disservice. If they’re delivering raw footage, what’s not included in the main wedding film that we’re missing? You don’t want to be stuck with a stack of tapes (or hard drive full of footage) that you have to edit somewhere else. Be sure you’re receiving a final edited film, which goes well with our next question…
8.) How long will it take to receive my finished video?
The delivery time for studios varies. Keep in mind that we’re not running a fast food operation. Creating a well-edited film does take time. It takes us about 40 hours of total editing man hours per wedding we film. Your wedding probably isn’t the only wedding your videographer is filming that year…on top of answering emails, phone calls, and running their business. Make sure there are clear expectations of when you should expect your wedding film by including that in your wedding videography contract.
9.) What do you do to ensure our wedding film is uniquely us?
We do know of videography studios that create cookie cutter videos. They all look the same, have the same songs, and the same duration. Some people may like that, which probably brings costs down. Others may want a film that is tailored to their personalities. We take quite a bit of time getting to know our couples. We ask how they met, how he proposed, and what your wedding will be like…and why. You’ve spent a lot of time planning for your wedding. Be sure you hire a videographer who shares the same passion about your day.
10.) Can I sign a contract?
This may also seem like a simple question, but you’d be amazed at how many people do business with just a handshake. Be sure everything you’ve agreed upon with your videographer is in writing. Well-written contracts should protect both parties.
How do you think we did? Have a question that should have been included in the above list? Leave a comment below: