Lights, Camera, Video

Want an Oscar-worthy wedding video? Just follow these steps

Before they hit the big screen, all movies go through a certain process: the budgeting, the crew-hiring, the equipment selection, the shooting, the editing. The same holds true for your wedding video. Though it's not a Hollywood blockbuster, your big-day film will undoubtedly make it onto your own personal top-ten list. So make sure it's created with the same attention to detail as a multiplex masterpiece.

Couples are often tempted to enlist a friend or relative with a camcorder to tape their wedding. While an amateur video is better than no video at all, it's usually way below the quality that a professional can deliver. "Just because someone has a kitchen doesn't mean they can bake a wedding cake," Rudy Childs, president of the Professional Videographers Association of Greater Washington, D.C. (PVA), points out. If you'd like a professional-looking video, you're going to have to go with a pro.

Act One: the Search

To find a videographer, start by asking friends and family for recommendations. You can also contact a professional videographers' organization, such as a local PVA (check the list of locales at or the Wedding and Event Videographers Association International (online at And don't forget to search's Local Services section.

After you've identified a few candidates, meet with them in person so you can see examples of their work. Roy Chapman, chair of WEVA International, recommends that you take a look at a full-length wedding video in addition to demo tapes. "Trust your eyes and your ears" when selecting a videographer, Chapman advises. "If you don't like the look or the sound of a video you're being shown, or if you are bored watching it, that's not the fault of the wedding. It's up to the videographer to produce a high-quality video that's entertaining to watch."

Act Two: the Selection

Make sure you ask questions about the videographer's professional background (such as the number of weddings they've shot and any special training they've received). According to Kit Slitor, founder of the PVA, the most important thing to look for when choosing a videographer is experience: "A seasoned professional will be technically and artistically proficient. He will know how to gather the right footage, how to properly frame and focus shots, how to discreetly and properly light a scene and take care of audio considerations."

Since videographic technology is changing quickly, find out if the person is up to speed with the latest equipment and techniques. "The best format to tape with today is digital video," Slitor says. Videos recorded digitally can be transferred to a VHS tape or to a DVD, an increasingly popular option. DVDs make it much easier to edit the video, meaning your pro can, according to Chapman, "manipulate images, rearrange scenes, add tasteful special effects, change colors or backgrounds, and improve picture quality."

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