How to have the perfect wedding (and films and photos!)—Part II

Part 2 of my guide on simple tips to ensure you not only have the best wedding day possible, but that you also get amazing wedding films and photos.

Leeds Garden - How to have the perfect wedding (and films and photos)—Part II

If you've set your heart on certain events being in your film, it's important to share your wedding day timeline with me...

As a general guide, I’d start with the times of the ceremony and then work backwards from that, to work out travel times (always allow extra time for the inevitable tractor, if there are country lanes, or traffic jams and diversions in busy areas). And then work forward from the ceremony time and see what time blocks you have between that and the reception/speeches time. Usually the venue will advise on the initial timings as they'll be organising the food and sometimes also the ceremony.

Don’t be afraid to share your schedule with your suppliers to check they think it works. Once you’ve all agreed on it, I also recommend sharing this with your guests so they know when they need to be where.

In the last post we touched on the fact that unless you have a second shooter, you’ll have to decide what the priority is for filming and photography. In this post I’ll cover each stage of the timeline and what sort of things you may need to consider—it’s usually allowing enough time for getting cameras set up in position!

Not having yet mastered the art of cloning myself, there’s no way I can be in two places at the same time—there are workarounds, but they usually involve compromising.

This is particularly critical if you’re having multiple venues that are a long way from each other. The bigger and more complex the wedding day, the more I recommend you have additional shooters.

Bride and Groom Preparation...

Don't be last for hair and make-up

195A9386 2 - How to have the perfect wedding (and films and photos)—Part II

Don’t have your make-up and hair done last. I think it looks better if you have it done a bit earlier, so it has a chance to soften and not look too ‘pristine’, and you can always have a last-minute touch-up.

I don’t really like to start filming the bridal preparation until the make-up is nearly finished, it just looks better, especially on the short films.

There’s just more time to get more interesting shots of you with your relatives and friends while you look good, before I have to shoot off to get ready for the ceremony.


Dress 3 real - How to have the perfect wedding (and films and photos)—Part II

Putting on the dress and 'first looks'

It’s nice to capture the dress being zipped or laced up, and often brides want to have their father’s first look of them in their dress being filmed. However, if this happens too late, it’ll clash with the time I need to be travelling to the venue, and then capturing some establishing shots of the venue and the guests arriving to tell the story, as well as setting up cameras for filming the ceremony.

The workaround if you’ve only got one shooter is to get your dress on earlier (as soon as you’ve got make-up on) and have your father see you sooner. If you’re not having a first look, then you can ‘stage’ getting the dress on in advance.


The Ceremony...

The arrival of the bride | coming down the stairs | getting out of the car


Ceremony 2 - How to have the perfect wedding (and films and photos)—Part II

If you’re having a feature film or highlights, I should be able to film you arriving and getting out of the car, or coming down the stairs at the venue, as I can then follow you as you go down the aisle and film from the back. Or you can wait a few seconds before entering the room so I and the photographer have time to get into position before you come down the aisle.

If you’ve opted for a film of the full ceremony, I’ll always prioritise the cameras at the front, as they’ll get the best footage, but if space is restricted, I may not be able to do so. Ideally I'd have space around the edges to move around to discreetly check the recordings. This is why it really helps to have a floor plan/diagram of the layout of the ceremony and seating in advance and then I can tell you what’s possible.

The ceremony...


For the wedding, you have the option of facing forward, looking at the celebrant/registrar, or facing each other. It’s totally your preference; I love both, but it really helps if I know this in advance as it will affect where I position the cameras for filming, which I have to do in advance.

if you have a floor plan or diagram of the layout of the ceremony, please let me have this, along with details of any readings, so I can make sure everyone is mic'd up before the ceremony, to record the best audio possible.

The Confetti Throw


Normally this is just after the ceremony, but it’s so much more impressive if it’s staged and it also adds to the anticipation! The photographer and I can then agree on a great place where the background looks attractive as well...

If you're having a line, often the photographer and the videographer will walk backwards in front of you while the guests throw as you pass. The other option is to take photos and film from the end or side, or even from above! If you particularly want your guests to be able to see you both and not the photographer and videographer, you need to flag this up with both of us.

If people just throw this from the aisle, because most people aren't in range, it just looks a bit pathetic, and there's a risk of it being thrown into your face you showing up with squints and grimaces, or worse, with rice or confetti in your eyes . Staging it gives a longer line as well, which gives the photographer and the videographer more time to get as many awesome shots as possible.

The Photos

The group photos

family portrait at wedding at The Spa Hotel Tunbridge Wells - How to have the perfect wedding (and films and photos)—Part II

I definitely recommend sharing the shot list with me as well as your photographer, and also nominating someone in your party to make sure everyone is in the right place at the right time for their posed shots.

For larger weddings it can take 10 minutes or more per group photo, most of which is spent finding people, organising them and taking enough shots to get them all smiling!

For the video, I normally film group shots as they happen and include the photographer, and the interaction between him/her and between the guests.


The couple shots

Bride and Groom at Gunnersbury Park - How to have the perfect wedding (and films and photos)—Part II

I love taking video of couple shots but video is different from photos, as I’ll want a ‘natural’ version of a walk, a smile, a look or a kiss or hug, and you looking at each other, whereas the photographer’s shots will be staged, static and may have you looking at him or her.

Your photographer may specify an amount of time they'll need for ‘couple’ photos, so please factor in extra time for the video when photos are being taken. It doesn't need to be much—maybe 10 to 30 minutes over the whole day. But it's your day, so it's your choice if you want these, but they look great in films.

If you have a shot list in mind for video, then I can give you an estimate of how long it will take to cover these. And I love doing experimental shots, so just let me know if you'd like me to include these for you.


The Reception

Leeds Reception - How to have the perfect wedding (and films and photos)—Part II


The entrance of the bride and groom

Just like the ceremony, if you have a table plan or diagram of the seating arrangements for the reception, it’s really helpful for me to have this, and to know who’s giving speeches and where they’re sitting.

This allows me to plan the best angles in advance. It’s easiest for photos and video if everyone does speeches from the top table, then I can get the most footage. The most difficult thing is if people move around or if they randomly give speeches from around the room. If you think this will happen, but you want all the speeches, tell me so I can put a recorder on the main venue microphone, as well as on all the speakers in advance.

Speeches Spa Hotel Tunbridge Wells Kent videographer - How to have the perfect wedding (and films and photos)—Part II


Speeches before or after THE MEAL?

Personally I recommend doing the speeches after eating, as often people are starving, and they’ll be more relaxed after eating and having a bit of drink. I’d only recommend speeches before if they’re really short!

I don't recommend spacing out the speeches during the meal. It makes planning the courses impossible for the venue, and it’s also really difficult for the photographer and the videographer, as this is the only time we get to have a short break, sit down, back up, and also eat (generally we get fed just after the main course is served to the guests.

The Evening...

The Cake Cut


The cake is often stuck in a corner on a small table and I recommend asking the venue to move this for the actual cutting. I love getting a shot of the cake cut with the guests in the background - it looks so good, and a little planning on where to position it can produce really memorable as well as beautiful clips and photos

Dance 16 - How to have the perfect wedding (and films and photos)—Part II

the First Dance


I look for unusual angles, e. g. from above on a balcony as well as at eye level for the first dance. If you want the whole dance recorded with multiple angles - I'll need set up time, and a plan in advance to avoid guests getting in the way.

If you do want the whole dance recorded, I also suggest you choreograph the dance so it looks as good as possible. There are many teachers who specialise in creating and teaching these, whatever your level.

If you haven't got a choreography in mind, then I generally film this with one or two cameras, depending on space, and may move around with one camera about to get a variety of angles.

On the day itself, it can be useful to have a main contact, either from your wedding party or the venue, who'll keep suppliers and guests up-to-date with real-time changes on the day.


The Bouquet Toss

You don’t have to do a bouquet toss—maybe you’ve decided to give your bouquet to someone, or you want to keep it. If you don't want to use your bouquet you can have a separate smaller bouquet made up especially. There's no strict rule for when to do this - often it’s after the cake cut and the first dance, but if it’s great weather and there’s a nice outside space you can do this earlier.

The only thing I’d say is do this after the couple and group shots! If I get enough warning and there’s time and space I can set up two cameras, otherwise I’ll just shoot it with one. I work with the photographer and the venue on where to do this, but it's nice to have an attractive background so it looks good in the photos.

Dancing.... and other stuff


Normally I stay for part of the dancing but I generally leave after about 30 to 60 minutes as by then I've usually got enough footage. If you’re having fireworks or sparklers or other evening stuff going on, let me know as I can always arrange to stay later.

However, if I need to stay really late I may need to charge for staying somewhere nearby as I'll probably be too tired to drive home the same night!

Falling Over - How to have the perfect wedding (and films and photos)—Part II

14. Last but not least...

It goes without saying that if there are any changes to the dates, timings, the order or the venues, please tell me as soon as you know!

I'd rather you told me too much, than too little, as some changes might mean you have make a decision on what takes priority for the film.

Ready for more? Part III covers what's useful to tell me about you, and your wedding party, so I can really personalise your film.

Go to Part III