Just when you thought your options for wedding photography couldn't get any more expansive, along came drones. Long used by the military for aerial surveillance, drones equipped with cameras are now appearing in the skies above weddings.
The pictures are absolutely amazing. Gone are the days when the only way to get a shot from above involved your photographer performing precarious balancing acts. Now, we can get the same 360 degree view of our weddings filmed with the same amount of precision and clarity as military bombers identifying targets. Pretty freaking amazing!
But, as with all new innovations in the wedding industry, there are some things to be aware of when you decide to hire a photography or videography team that offers drone services, and it's best to do your research before you sign a contract.
1. Licenses and Registration
While anybody can buy and fly a drone now, drone operators working for commercial business (such as a wedding photography business) must be licensed. The FAA recently created a new test specifically for drone operators, and they must be re-tested every two years. Everybody is supposed to register their newly-purchased drone with the FAA before flying it.
2. Drone Insurance
Wedding photographers and videographers who are offering drone services should have added liability coverage for their flying equipment to their insurance policies, just in case something bad happens. The drones are flying over the heads of your wedding guests, so it's important to confirm that your photographers have gotten coverage for their birds. Drone operators planning to film at venues that are not private homes must check, in advance, to find out the insurance requirements of the venue. Many hotels and facilities will require proof of coverage before take-off.
See more: 50 Must-Have Wedding Photos
3. Venue Restrictions
While almost all wedding venues will permit some drone usage, many have strict rules about it. Hotels and other venues that are open to the public, or have a houseful of other guests, are far more restrictive about the use of flying photography on their property. It's not surprising — who wants to become part of somebody else's wedding video when they're relaxing by the pool in a bathing suit? There are many properties who consider it an invasion of their other guests' privacy, and only permit flight directly above your ceremony and reception areas. If it's important to you to have extensive drone coverage at your wedding and reception venues, be sure to check out venue policies before you sign a contract.
Keep in mind, drones are not silent. Depending on the quality of the device, it can be rather loud. Even the quiet ones are still audible, and can be distracting during your wedding ceremony. Guests just can't seem to help staring at them. Coordinate with your photographers and determine, with their recommendations, when you want sky-shots, and when to set it down. It's worth a little bit of distraction for a few special pictures, but you won't want to film the entire ceremony.
Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events and author of How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show Wedding Island, about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques.