Jody Wickersham is an award winning videographer/editor. He has produced nearly 200 wedding films over the last 10 years. He works out of Oklahoma City where he lives with his wife of 19 years and 5 children.
Hello! Thank you for taking advantage of this free resource! I have a LOT of experience shooting and editing wedding films, which means I’ve been to a LOT of weddings and I’ve picked up a thing or two along the way. I’m sharing my experience with you and including some examples so you can see the benefit should you choose to avoid these mistakes. Most likely you’ve been considering some of these ideas but I want to give you the confidence to make it happen.
This is my gift to you.
Best, Jody Wickersham
Mistake #1. Don’t write custom vows. Use the traditional repeat-after-me vows.
Or, you could make your ceremony and wedding film unique and special by writing your own vows and reading them to each other. This also ensures the audio will be usable since you and the sometimes impatient officiant will not be talking over each other while reciting vows.
Mistake #2. Don’t take golden hour photos. Have the mindset, "The photos we took earlier are probably fine even though the lighting and shadows were harsh and we were squinting, and plus now everybody is waiting on us.”
Or, take the mindset that this is your day, and don’t worry about what other people might be thinking or pressuring you to do. You get this one chance. Carve out time in the itinerary and take advantage of the soft beautiful light that only happens near dusk. Your guests will be fine without you for a few minutes (especially if you feed them) and you will have gorgeous intimate photos and video to cherish.
Mistake #3. Don’t do a pre-ceremony first look.
I cannot emphasize strongly enough how great an early interaction can be. You will have a first look whether it is before or during the ceremony, so why not make it a special, intimate moment. It really makes for some wonderful shots. And the added benefit is that your timeline will flow so much better, streamlining the family photo time, and giving you more time for other things such as golden hour photos.
Mistake #4. Don’t build extra time into your day. Schedule for every second and move right from one thing to the next, leaving no room for error.
Or, realize that things will go wrong, this is real life. And even if everything goes perfectly, if you’ve built a relaxed timeline, then you’ve given yourself time to recharge, time to take it all in. Eliminating as much stress as possible. Keep in mind, your demeanor will come across in photos and video. You want your smiles to be genuine. Create a relaxed mood. Your guests, bridal party, and vendors will thank you and your photos and video will reap the rewards.
Mistake #5. Make your reception too long. Schedule a 5 hour reception and by the time for your grand exit, almost everyone is gone.
Or, think about the nature of your guests (their age, if they have kids, etc) and how long they are likely to stick around. I can tell you, besides close family and the bridal party, people start dropping off after the meal. My theory is, leave them wanting more. Don’t wait until the point people start thinking they wish you would just leave. Go out with a bang. Your exiting shot will look fantastic with an energetic crowd.
Mistake #6. Don’t hire me. Ha! Okay, this one is a little self-serving, but it’s a bonus at #6, and it just happens to be absolutely true. I know all of these things because I have shot and edited A LOT of wedding films and I’ve experienced over and over what works well and what doesn't. As a couple, you’ve never planned a wedding before and sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. But, now you know a little more and I hope this helps.
Notes. Write each other a meaningful note and exchange beforehand. Read them in privacy or read them to each other at your first look. Just like writing custom vows, this is an opportunity to make your film unique and special to you as a couple.
Professional Audio. Hire a videographer that records professional audio of the ceremony and your notes if you write and read them. Some videographers don’t do this because it’s a hassle. But, it’s important and you’ll be so glad to have it.
Music & Audio. Choose a videographer with a great taste in music and/or allows you to have an influence. Who is good at incorporating various audio sources: ambient, soundbites and music. And using instrumental music can be a great idea if custom vows or notes were recorded so the soundbites aren’t having to fight over song lyrics.
Eliminate Background Noise. Turn off music and TVs in the Bridal and Groom’s suite while getting ready or at least while the videographer is shooting. Loud noise from music or TV in the background basically eliminates being able to use any ambient audio from friends or family in the film. Let’s say you’ve all got your champagne glasses (or beers) and about to toast and there’s a squeal of excitement that would be great to mix in with the audio. But, alas, the music in the background is overbearing and clashes too much with the film’s music. Or, the big screen TV is great for keeping up with the football game, but it’s super distracting in the background of the shots and you didn’t really plan on advertising Old Spice or college football in your wedding film.
Coverage Balance. Have as much video coverage before the ceremony as after. This balances the wedding film so it’s not all reception footage. You’ll have a natural progression, building toward the ceremony, and then the excitement and celebration of the reception.
Unplugged Ceremony. I can’t tell you how many times someone has leaned out or even stood in the aisle trying to get a pic of someone in the procession, and ruined my shot. Ask your attendees to put away their devices and be fully present with you. You’ve hired professionals to document the event so they can relax and enjoy it, and you’ll share the final photos and video with them later. I had one couple announce that “We’ve hired professionals and their shots are more important and better than yours.” I loved their honesty!