Ryan + Alex’s intimate Sonoma wedding at Trentadue Winery couldn’t be stopped by rain as just minutes before the ceremony was set to begin, the rain let up, the guests took their seats, and two were made one in a gorgeous, lush setting. It was an honor to capture the day alongside the always talented Jihan Cerda , and with a killer team including, Milestone Events Group, AMS Entertainement, Elaine Bell Catering, and Encore Events Rentals the day that began with rain and last-minute changes ended up to be an elegant celebration of two families coming together.
My top 5 most asked questions as a wedding videographer
My reason for writing this is two-fold. First, I've heard, by numerous highly successful people, that if you get asked the same question multiple times, it's probably worth making a resource with that information at the ready. I'm hoping I can help prospective couples get their questions answered before they even ask them. Second, I'd love if any other engaged couples that are on the search for a wedding videographer could have a few good questions to think about while inquiring for their wedding. This is in no particular order and while some are more specific they are just the most common for me.
(For those who don’t know the acronym “TLDR” stands for “Too Long Didn’t Read”, which is basically the cliff notes of each answer.)
All of these answers are as of April 2019, if anything changes I will do my best to update the answers.
1. Who will actually be there filming on my wedding day?
Some people may have heard about different production companies that have associate shooters or assistants that might be the ones physically filming on the day of instead of the person whose name is on the masthead. I have nothing against that personally and I know many bigger operations where that works for them, but for me, my goal has always been that I am personally filming and editing every wedding I am a part of. Although this may limit the number of weddings I can be a part of every year, it’s what works best for me, and it makes it easy for clients to know exactly who will be filming their wedding. Also, I know many photographers love the fact that I’m a solo shooter and are delighted by the flexibility it gives them as artists to capture the day with minimal photo shopping. I find with enough pre-production, planning, and a lot of hustle I am able to capture all of the major events of the day while maintaining a minimal visual impact of the day itself. My one caveat is that I often use a secondary stationary camera during bigger ceremonies, and this is usually out of the way and hopefully hidden from the view of guests and wide shots for the photographers.
2. How do you partner with photographers to make the day go smoothly?
It seems to be a common worry to be concerned about how the photographer and videographer will get along and work together seamlessly. For me, making this a good experience for everyone involved starts way before the wedding day. I usually try to connect with a new photographer through Instagram or via Email just to get a feeling for their vibe and style and eventually discuss specifics of the day. More than anything I want them to know that it’s not like there is a photographer team and videographer team and we are somehow pitted against each other to get the best shots or coverage, but we are actually on the same team with the shared goal of making the day as fun and effortless as possible for the Bride & Groom. Even if we don’t see perfectly eye to eye stylistically or aesthetically, I try to find where our styles and artistic desires overlap and focus on those things during shooting to make sure we use the couple’s time wisely throughout the day. Another great way to defuse any competitive or detached vibes is to offer to help them in any way I can throughout the day. Growing up I always remember my Dad telling us, “Go over to your mom and ask, Is there anything I can do for you?” Now, while it might be a little silly to ask that question outright I do usually look for opportunities to serve them such as helping with a bag, or holding a bouquet so they can get a certain shot. I’m also applying this thinking to the couple and all vendors involved. I’ve noticed that just extending a small olive branch of service to another vendor can go a long way to creating a sense of team among everyone involved. At the end of many weddings, I’ve often heard one of the best compliments I could get, which is a Bride asking, “So how long have you and the photographer been shooting together?” to which I usually sheepishly respond, “Well technically, just today”.
TLDR: Establish that we are on the same team, and do my best to serve them as well as the couple throughout the day
3. What audio do you capture throughout the day and how will it be incorporated Into the film?
With the advent of shorter highlight films, and even some that don’t feature any audio from the day, people often wonder what they will actually hear in the final products. I almost always capture the entirety of the ceremony audio and toasts with a combination of lapel mics and audio recorders. If there is some particular audio byte that fits perfectly into the film or supports the story and vibe of the film I will often utilize it into the short film, but I have even had a handful of films that are purely music driven too. At the end of the day I try to not force audio from the day if it doesn’t seem to fit, and at the very least the entirety of the audio ceremony and and toast audio is usually featured in the footage edit, so you can hear all those moments in their entirety.
TLDR: Ceremony and Toasts, and even though it may or may not be used in the final film, it will most likely be incorporated into the footage edit.
4. How does the music selection process usually go about?
This may be my most asked question, so I almost have a memorized answer for it. I always say you can be as involved or uninvolved as you like. I pride myself as being very skilled at choosing the right music to accompany the film, but if a bride or groom wants to have a say I am more than happy to oblige. Although I can’t use popular music, I am always more than happy to have some songs to reference, or even some descriptive words such as moody and ethereal possibly for Big Sur elopement or bright and airy for a Napa wine country wedding. My big thing is that I receive this input before the wedding day so I can best serve the couple, keeping these notes in mind, if they do want to be involved in that process.
TLDR: It’s usually something that I consider myself quite good at, but I am happy to hear input or ideas prior to the wedding day!
5. How do you incorporate drone footage into the film?
Many people see some drone shots in my wedding films and wonder how I go about capturing them, how I decide whether or not to use the drone, and if it comes at a cost. Firstly, I see the drone as a tool just like a camera, a certain lens, or stabilizer is a tool so I don’t charge anything extra if it is used. That being said, just like not all shoots may call for a certain lens, not all shoots call for a drone. I typically only use the drone as a way to establish the environment of where the wedding or elopement is taking place and very rarely film the actual couple with a drone. So for instance, If I am driving to shoot a Big Sur wedding at 2pm, what I would most likely do is go about 30 minutes or so before my start time and capture some drone coverage in the surrounding area. I try to follow all FAA guidelines and am conscious of only flying far enough away from residential or business areas, so as you can probably guess this usually limits my drone flights to more secluded areas. Furthermore before every flight I use this No-Fly Zone Map linked here to see what areas are legal to fly in, and as you can probably see if you follow that link, that also limits where I can fly in. Overall I ask myself these three questions before deciding whether or not to use the drone for each project:
Does this project lend itself to aerial footage? If so, am I legally allowed by the FAA to safely fly in this area? And then, Is it within a reasonable distance away from any residential or business center?
If I answered Yes to all three then I will move forward with capturing aerial footage.
TLDR: It depends on a number of factors, but when I can I try to capture some establishing shots if it is legally allowed.
Lindsay and Mac’s classic Carmel Valley wedding day at the pristine Bernardus Lodge was planned to perfection by Robin Servina and her killer team including rentals by Standard Party Rentals and tasteful flowers by Fleurs Du Soleil. Alongside one of my favorite photographers Brandon Scott, we were graced with the most perfect valley sunlight to capture the natural beauty and joy between Lindsay + Mac. DJ Trevor Williams ended the night with an all out rager, and by the end of the night I’m pretty sure all of the photo booth hats, props, and wigs ended up on the dance floor.
Brandon + Stephanie eloped at a small private campground in Big Sur among the towering redwoods and the warm sun beams shining through them. Their adventurous spirit as a couple was represented in everything from Brandon’s boots to the John Muir quote outside their tent. One of my favorite moments of the day was when all of their closest friends and family circled around them during their ceremony creating a beautiful image of their circle of support as these two started their new family together. I was honored to work beside destination photographer Cecilia Proskauer who captured the day beautifully and you can check out the gorgeous photos of the day here: Brandon + Stephanie Blog Post.
This picturesque Carmel wedding at the historic Mission Ranch had me grinning ear to ear the whole day. It was a rare day of Carmel sun streaming down on the all the cute little sheep in the pasture right beside two people becoming one. Throughout the day, it was so sweet and heartwarming watching on as Clinton looked out for and cared for Sophie, always taking her feelings into account before acting or speaking. Lastly, with a team including the insanely talented Lilly Red capturing the day to perfection and DJ Trevor Williams keeping the party going, it was a day of classic elegance and a one for books. 🎉👏
Anthony + Christina began their day at the Big Sur Lodge, getting ready and exchanging heartfelt notes to each other in cabins on either side of the campground. Their ceremony took place at the historic Loma Vista Gardens adjacent to their reception location Big Sur Bakery, which in my opinion is one of the best places to grab a bite if you are in the area. The day couldn’t have happened without the tireless and precise planning of Mariah Green and with a team including Yehleen Photography, capturing the gorgeous day and Mark Banks providing perfect ambiance with his musical mastery, it was a day to remember and one that was overflowing with joy and celebration.
I couldn’t have asked for a better day, couple, and team for this picture-perfect fall wedding in Carmel Valley at the always stunning Holman Ranch. All the floral, decor, and everything in-between was masterfully planned and executed by Simone Lennon Events and her team, and it was yet another elegant day filled with classic beauty and so many touching moments. Right as the sun was setting, we trekked up into the vineyards for sunset portraits alongside Jodee Debes who captured the day perfectly and brought so much positive energy to the day. Overall it was just one of those days where everything flowed so effortlessly and Reece and Sarah were just able to be in the moment, enjoying each other and the company of all their guests, and more importantly having a killer party celebrating their love.
This picturesque Lake Tahoe wedding was magical from start to finish. Jill + Kyle got married nestled against the serene shoreline beside the gorgeous West Shore Cafe, and directly after the ceremony we hopped on a slick 1930’s style mahogany boat made by Grand Craft for the newlyweds to ride into the sunset. It was a day of classic beauty, and most importantly of two becoming one, and looking good doing it.
— I believe in you, the person you stand here as today, the person you will grow to become, and the couple we will become together — 🌿
This airy Big Sur Elopement started nestled among the giant redwoods where Brian + Maricela shared heartfelt personal vows with the sun streaming in through the branches, and ended along the epic sprawling Big Sur cliffs as they watched the sun go down over the crashing waves below. One of my favorite moments of the day was not actually at either of these locations, but after our beach excursion as we walked back to our cars in the parking lot, Brian knelt down and gently cleaned Maricela’s sandy feet before she put her shoes back on. His servant heart was so sweet and sincere, and it was a great picture of their relationship.
"I truly believe you were the answer to my many prayers. I love you with everything I have, and I promise to never let you doubt that I do. You believe in me and have shown me a love I don't even deserve. You will always be the very best part of my day. I am yours and you are mine, and of that I am certain."
🌲// 📷: @hellobrandonscott
Xin + Wenxi's day started with a thin layer of mist in the air with picturesque fog rolling over the Big Sur hills. They shared heart-felt personal vows with the gorgeous backdrop of the Carmel Coastline and were total sweethearts interacting with each other throughout the day. The Hyatt Carmel Highlands provided a beautiful backdrop for the day and it was just a pure celebration of a new family forming, and extended family coming together as one.
This Big Sur Elopement at Ventana Inn could be summed up in one word: magical. Caile was dressed in traditional Scottish garb to honor his heritage and family, and bagpipers led the processional into the deep Big Sur forest for Caile and Kelly to say their vows surrounded by the towering redwoods.
Scott and Chandler met when they were both 15, growing up on farms right next to each other in Georgia. Even though they lived next to each other, they were divided by county lines, so they didn't end up going to same school. They knew and admired each other all through high school and college, but the stars never aligned until their senior year of college when they finally went on their first date. Ever since then, they've been inseparable. They decided to elope along the blustery Big Sur Coast, and finish the day with pizza. If that isn't a classic love story I don't know what is. 👩🏼🌾👨🏻🌾🍕
Even fire couldn't keep these two from getting married. Literally. Originally these two were planning on getting married last fall at Cornerstone Sonoma but the fires in the area made that impossible. Luckily the whole team was able to band together to re-make this perfect day happen this past March, and everyone came together and killed it. Even through all this difficulty and shuffling Matt and Steph remained positive, and it was a thing of beauty to see everything come together to create this stunning day. ☀️
@latavolalinen @encoreeventsrentals @ivyhillentertainment @brighteventrentals @angeliqueink @jm_makeup_and_hair_artist
This intimate Big Sur Elopement at Glen Oaks was such a sweet, delicate day among the redwoods celebrating two lives becoming one. David + Lauren's joy was infectious and it was such an honor to capture their love alongside photographer, Giana Rada.
"When I look at you I see home. I was born and designed to love you." 🌲
I will never tire of Post Ranch Inn Elopements in Big Sur. Casey + Angela's day was serene yet joyous and Soaring Starkey officiated the ceremony among the massive redwoods. Evynn Levalley joined us for the day to capture the day and we ended looking over the cliffs of the Big Sur Coastline.
"May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out." ✨
Big Sur elopements will never get old, and there's almost no better place to elope than Post Ranch Inn. Lewis recited an old Scottish love song dated back to the early 1800s for Jessica in front of a bed of flowers in the woods for their intimate ceremony among the giant redwoods. If you know how to read old Irish text, here's an excerpt from what he said: "Let love sparkle In her e'e, Let her love nae man but me: That's the toeher-gude I prize; There the lover's treasure lies." 🌲: @postranchinn 📷: @hellobrandonscott