Despite months and maybe even years of planning, your wedding day is fleeting. Fast-paced and exhilarating, this day passes like a summer storm. It’s for this fleetingness that hiring a photographer is an absolute must. But if a single picture is worth a thousand words, how many is a captured moment of live-action worth?
“Nuances of speech and movement, captured on film, are the best ways to relive, or even see from a more present perspective, the details that made a special day extraordinary,” says videographer Daryl Thomen.
Meet the Expert
Daryl Thomen is a seasoned videographer and videojournalist with over a decade's worth of experience filming and editing pivotal moments in people’s lives, from bar and bat mitzvahs, family celebrations, and, of course, weddings.
Although photography should be your primary method of detailed documentation, what are lights and cameras without a little … action? Here’s what to expect when hiring a videographer.
How Much Does a Wedding Videographer Cost?
Most videographers are independent contractors, so it often varies. Typically, videographers will offer packages and a la carte pricing for extra services, extra time, or extra editing to allow you to customize your package. It is recommended that you start with a standard package and customize it from there to make sure all your bases are covered. You can often get a better bargain this way.
“There are a lot of variables to consider,” Thomen says. “Every video is personalized and custom-made, so it really depends on what the couple wants, like the length of the video, inclusions of whole speeches versus snippets, add-ons like raw footage, how many cameras they want floating, and even the style of the video, like how it’s shot and edited,” he elaborates.
Peak wedding season may also affect the cost for some vendors, making coverage from June through October a bit pricier and harder to secure. The range can often run between $1,200 and $1,500 nationwide or as much as $12,500 for a luxury shoot that turns you into a television-quality star for a day.
What’s Included in the Cost?
The exact inclusions may be personalized to your needs, but certain services are part and parcel of any professional wedding videography package you may book. “Expect eight to 10 hours of coverage, and know that additional time can cost as much as $200-$500 per half hour, which pays for the videographer’s and assistant’s time (if applicable), time spent editing additional footage, and video cards,” Thomen advises. “But don’t worry if your day is expected to be longer! This amount of time is usually sufficient to cover everything from wedding day preparation to the cake cutting ceremony.”
However, all the key moments in between should be accounted for in your contract. That means working alongside the photographer as the couple gets ready, arriving at the ceremony site in their own vehicle to film it in its entirety, capturing candid moments while syncing up with the DJ during cocktail hour, the couple’s reception entrance, and dances and speeches. Use of your videographer’s gear should also be included, like lavalier microphones, which are discreetly clipped-on mini-mics wired to bodypack transmitters, as well as necessary enhancements like music beds. Licensing fees should not come into play, Thomen warns, as the end video is for personal use.
Outside of those basics, a la carte services can add to those costs. Examples include hiring a videographer that uses an assistant, adding formal interviews, fancy edits like splicing photos or other videos into the footage, or drone use. Some couples may opt to add on an external event like the rehearsal dinner.
Wedding Videographer FAQs
Is a wedding videographer worth it?
A videographer is an investment every couple should make. “It’s motion that makes memories come to life,” says Thomen.
How far in advance should I book my videographer?
If your wedding is in the peak season, you should aim to have your videographer commissioned eight to 12 months ahead of time to save the date. During the low season, you can reserve their services closer in. You also have more wiggle room if you choose a less seasoned professional as they are less likely to be booked up.
Why should I hire a two-person team?
Your coverage will be more comprehensive, and your video will have more dimension in that it’ll be shot from an additional perspective. This is great for angle changes for important moments, such as the ceremony, speeches, or formal dance—moments where the focus is on the couple. And because the assistant’s primary role is to shoot b-roll, that also provides a greater opportunity to catch those great reaction shots from the guests.
What other add-ons should I consider?
Raw footage is definitely advised as a supplement, as this means you have every minute of what was shot right in hand. The files can come delivered on a flash drive, CDs, or hard drive, and the cost for those may vary based on your vendor and the medium available. You can ask for it to be included in your package during negotiation, or add it on a la carte at $200-$500.
“It’s well worth it,” Thomen said. “There may have been a moment where Uncle Tony did something funny but it didn’t make the cut, but this way, you’ll have it. And with today’s technology, you can save money by adding in footage to your video for extended cuts or make custom versions, which are popular as anniversary gifts.”
What are the different styles that wedding videos may be shot in?
The standard option is a sequential, chronological video that plays through the major points of the day in order. “Consider the videographer a fly on the wall for this style,” Thomen said, “or a shadow that just trails you throughout the day.” The end result is music-heavy with pops of recorded speech.
Should I opt for a drone?
For grand venues or outdoor weddings, it can add a certain wow factor to the final video. However, bear in mind that of the footage shot, the end result might only include a few seconds of overhead. It’s a luxury splurge at $200-$500 as an add-on in the New York area, and drones are typically only used for venue fly-by and the walk down the aisle.
It’s worthwhile to ask your videographer if they offer drone services and have shot at your venue before if they have general site footage that they can splice into your video at a lower cost. But don’t get your heart too set on either option; drones may not be permitted at your sites since there are restrictions in cities and certain areas that may even include beaches. Your videographer will need to clear permissions with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before giving you a solid answer on drone usage.
Should I tip my videographer?
Photographers may share a portion of their tip with their recommended/partner videographer. However, this is not typically the case. Videographers are often not tipped, but gratuities are appreciated. A $50-$200 thank-you is a nice gesture, with $50-$100 going to the lead videographer and $50-$75 for the assistant.