Why is wedding video so expensive?! Our pricing - explained
If I had a dollar for every time someone said wedding videography was out of their budget, I’d be able to pay for your wedding film! Kidding! But not really. I’d like to explain what goes into the cost of a wedding video. What is really behind our pricing? Why do wedding video companies charge what they do?
In the beginning, Uncle Bob had his video camera. He walked around. He ate a little, well maybe a lot. He chatted with Aunt Bev. We laughed when we saw the video but overall we were happy because it was our wedding.
These days, wedding videography companies make cinematic films of your wedding day. They use professional, movie quality cameras, drones, professional lighting and audio equipment... the list goes on. It’s just a lot better overall. But why is it so expensive?
Back in the day, it was one guy with his camera, and editing consisted of “cutting the bad parts out”. Today, we are looking at 3+ camera angles during the ceremony and minimum of 2 cameras the rest of the day. And a little thing about files. No longer are we "taping" your wedding. We now shoot hundreds of smaller files to SD or CF cards in 4K. These files are very large! Gone are the days of one long, grainy videotape. So now, it takes organization and planning on our behalf. Working hours! In addition to multiple cameras and files, we record the audio to external devices which has to be synched up with the video. Sounds complicated! It’s not really, but it’s time consuming and 100% worth it as far as your video goes.
What else goes into the price, you might ask!? Our expertise. Our continuing education. We are insured. We are business owners. Gone are the days of a guy with a camera. We take pride in our finished product. We love to create beautiful films for our wedding couples. The thought of following you around with a camera on our shoulder makes our stomachs turn. We hire talented shooters to work alongside us and purchase cameras and lenses appropriate for shooting weddings. I personally believe a 70-200 (a long lens for close ups) is a life saver and helps us avoid annoying weddings guests and couples 100% of the time. “I didn’t even know you were there for that” is what we like to hear.
But that can’t be that expensive!? Well, consider this. We work about 2 hours before your wedding in planning, and packing. We (2 of us) work 8 hours for your wedding day. We work about 40 hours on your edits. That’s 58 hours worth of work just on your wedding! This isn't even counting the costs of our expenses... The time we spend on marketing, sales and business development. It isn't counting the cost of our equipment, rentals and repairs.
Still, we love to do what we do, filming weddings, and would never complain about doing the work we love. We just hope you’ll understand why we can’t make you a wedding video for $700! Just do a little math with us for a moment. Lets say we do your wedding video for $1000, to be nice and help you with your budget. First, deduct 30% from that $1000 for taxes. That leaves $700. Then divide that by the 58 hours worth of work (we are being very simplistic but bear with us!). That equals $12/hour. I know McDonalds and Target offer wages competitive to this, and they offer benefits and employee discounts! I personally would prefer Target over McDonalds, but then I'd be spending all my money there! McDonalds gives free meals, but we get fed at weddings too. :) I'll stick to my job creating wedding videos because I love it, but at a fair and reasonable rate. I hope this give you a little insight as to why wedding videography is so expensive! We like to think of it as an investment that is worth making - you will love your wedding video and won't regret the expense when you look back on all your memories with your new spouse. Also - think about the value of being able to see all the money you spent on your wedding over and over again!
What does a typical wedding day look like for the team? That’s a good question! While every single wedding is different, and unique, we have processes in place as your wedding videography team. I’ll try to sum it up as best as I can!
1pm - We arrive at the venue, Ponte Winery. We check in with the bride, the photographers are just arriving to her suite as we are arriving. I ask the lead photographer if they’ve seen the groom and groomsmen yet. They say no, but that they’re about to walk over there. I offer to go with the second photographer while Nan stays and starts to capture what’s going on in the bridal suite. She finds the wedding dress and the shoes and works together with the photographer so that they can photograph and video these items. Then, she starts filming the girls getting ready. I have checked in with the guys, but they are not even close to being ready and ask me to come back in 30-45 minutes. The first look is scheduled at 3:00, so I feel ok about the time line. I return to the bridal suite and start pulling aside bridesmaids to do little mini interviews - stuff we might use in the edit to drive the couples’ story.
1:45 pm - I head back to the grooms room. I ask him to put on his coat and tie. I capture little details of his attire (cuff links, bow tie etc). I ask the guys if they could do a toast, and then pull aside a few guys for their mini interview. It’s super impromptu and as minimally awkward as possible. I joke around so they feel more at ease. They do great!
2:30 pm - Its time to put on the dress! I head back over to the girls (yes it’s a lot of running around!) Nan is doing close up shots and I’ll do wide shots. Once the dress is on we talk about the first look with the photographers!
3pm - We coordinate with the photo team to choose a perfect spot for the first look. Shady and secluded, this spot will be a beautiful place for our bride and groom to see each other for the first time. The moment comes and we all have our spots pre planned so we avoid photobombing each other!
3:30pm - We do some romantic shots with the couple alongside the photographers. Nan is on the steadicam getting walking shots, and artistic shots moving around the couple. I am firing up the drone. Sometimes there isn’t time for the drone during photo sessions but today there is and it makes me super happy because flying the drone is on the top of my list of favorite things to do. I fly over the couple, and follow them with the drone. I also get some venue overview shots.
4pm - We head over to the ceremony site to set up. Sometimes I’ll get a head start while Nan continues to take video during the photo session. Set up is usually fairly quick, but it’s important to be set up in advance! I set up three tripods (two in the front and one in the back). I put long lenses on the front cameras to get nice closeups of the bride and grooms faces. The back camera will have a wide lens so I can get the whole wedding party in the frame. I find the person running sound for the ceremony, and ask to plug into the sound board. Once plugged in, I like to test it out by recording a quick sound check. That way I can catch any issues in advance! Next, I find the officiant and put a personal recording device on him or her. (Backup!) Then, I put a recording device on the groom. (More backup!) All set up, and ready!
5pm - The ceremony! I make sure everything is recording and we capture everything continuously on all three cameras. Occasionally we might have an opportunity for a fourth camera (in a balcony maybe!) but not today. We have solid coverage with all three cameras. Nan and I take turns discreetly walking to camera 3 to make sure everything looks perfect.
5:30pm - Wedding ceremony ends and we split up! I break down the gear and move what needs to be moved to the reception site. There I set up the light stands and lights, and plug into the DJ for speeches. Nan covers family and bridal party photos, and additional couple photos. After I’m set up at the reception site, I head to cocktail hour where I get solid coverage of the guests enjoying and having fun. I like to avoid people eating / chewing which can be a challenge at times. If it’s a long cocktail hour I’ll fly the drone again, sometimes people will wave and interact with the drone. Again, it’s one of my favorite things in life!
6:30pm - Guests are seated, and we get set for grand entries. I typically shoot the wide shots and Nan does close ups.
6:45pm - Grand entrance happens and then goes right into first dance. Nan circles the bride and groom once or twice with the steadicam. It looks so good in the wedding video, it’s definitely worth the effort!
7:00pm - Dinner! Everyone eats including us. We scarf our food though because toasts are coming and we don’t want to miss a thing!
7:45pm - Toasts begin. We cover these with two angles, and capture the audio through our recording device that’s plugged into the DJ. We also stick a backup recording device on the mic.
8:00pm - It's time for the parent dances! We shoot this with both cameras, with a close up shot and a wide shot.
8:10pm - Dances are done, and we quickly transition to cake cutting. Nan grabs the steadicam, I grab the monopod and the light and we capture this moment.
8:20pm - Dancing begins! We film close ups, wide shots and are generally on alert for anything fun or funny that happens.
9pm - Our coverage ends. We start packing up, and say our goodbyes to our lovely couple. We tell them to expect their wedding within 12 weeks, though it’s usually sooner. It’s been a fun night and another successful wedding video in process!
Obviously, hiring a professional videographer is the place to start if you would like to have a wonderful wedding video to watch over and over again throughout the years. However, there are several things you as a couple and do when planning your wedding, that will help make your video even better. Here are a few things:
Obviously, hiring a professional videographer is the place to start if you would like to have a wonderful wedding video to watch over and over again throughout the years. However, there are several things you as a couple can do when planning your wedding, that will help make your video even better. Here are a few things:
1. Avoid colored lighting, and colored up lighting. It is as simple as that! Unless you love your face to look like the color that you choose for your up lighting, avoid colored lighting. I know purple and red are very popular, however it might not look so good on your face. Videographers do use professional lighting to minimize some of this, but there’s only so much they can do.
2. Keep your getting ready area nice and clean. It is as simple as it sounds, a clean room looks much better on camera than a messy room. While most videographers will move around furniture, open blinds, and move around clutter, it helps when everything looks good already. I know you really don’t want the fast food trash and beer bottles in the background!
3. Think about the time of day you’re having your ceremony. If the sun is really bright, or directly overhead, you may be working with some shadows. Sunset ceremonies may be nice, but sometimes it leaves one or more parties looking or squinting into the sun.
4. Brides, try to wear a dress that you will not be fidgeting with. So many times, we see brides adjusting their chest, pulling up their dress and generally messing with their clothing. I get it, a wedding dress is not the most comfortable thing to wear, but it is also not great to see those constant dress adjustments in the wedding film.
5. First looks make the timeline go a lot more smoothly. We understand that you may not always want to break tradition, but it is very handy and it ensures all of the photos are done in a non-rushed manner.
6. It is your wedding video and we want it to be beautiful. We know you do too, that’s why this point is so important. If there is something that you absolutely love and want covered, make sure to tell your Videographer to cover that for your wedding video. You really can’t capture the s’more bar or the photo booth on video six weeks later when it’s time to edit the video. Likewise, If there is something you absolutely do not want included, like your drunk aunt Bev, please tell your videographer. In one case we had a couple dislike white lattice so we avoided at all costs. It just comes down to communication. And chances are, if you like the videos on your Videographer’s website it should be fine. If you are looking at another Videographer’s wedding videos maybe it is time to think about using that Videographer instead.
7. The last and most important point of all, is to have fun and smile! A pouty bride or groom does not make for a fun film to watch. Big smiles and happiness make the wedding video something you really want to watch and keep watching over and over again.
1. It's like a time machine! You can go back to your day over and over!
Your wedding day happens only once (hopefully!) and by hiring a wedding videographer to capture it, you can relive the day over and over again! Memories may fade over the years so having every moment on film is a truly priceless benefit of hiring a wedding videographer. Besides being able to watch your vows, see how in love you were, and watch yourself get teary-eyed when your best friend pours out her heart during her MOH speech... you will be able to see the parts of your wedding day that you may have missed! When you were off taking your wedding photos with your wedding photographer, maybe cocktail hour was getting crazy, or Uncle Bob was doing magic tricks! You will be able to see everything with the help of your wedding videographer.
2. It allows people who weren't able to make it to 'be there'.
As sad as it is to think about, there is a chance some family members or friends might not be able to attend your wedding due to illness, distance, or age. And, if you decide to elope, it’s likely nobody but your officiant will get to witness your special day. Having your videographer create a highlight film for your wedding will allow you to share the best parts of your wedding day with all of those who were unable to come to your wedding. The longer wedding video edit may also be shared with your family members - its as simple as emailing them the download link!
3. You can't hear your vows or toast in a photograph.
Your vows, your toasts, the impromptu things that your bridal part said during the getting ready portion of your wedding - these things cannot be captured in a photograph. Sure - you can record them on your cell phone, and several guests will probably record these moments on their phones as well. But will you really dig up all these random clips on your phone years later to remember these moments? Probably not. Your wedding video will have these moments all professionally edited, and with professional audio. You will be able to hear these emotional moments all over again and remember the sounds of people's voices who may no longer be with us. Having a wedding video is very special - for this alone!
4. You’ll be creating a family heirloom.
My kids love my wedding video. The love to watch and see all their relatives when they were young. As time goes on, these moments will be even more special. It is fun to remember people at a wedding - happy, dancing, crying and celebrating. It is even more special if it is YOUR wedding. I've heard many people talk about wedding videos and say they were so happy that their parents got video, because they love to see how they were at the beginning of their lives together. The start of it all!
Still on the fence about wedding videography? Well, we understand, because its an investment. However, we've never heard a past bride or groom of ours say they regretted hiring a professional videographer to capture their wedding and create a wedding film for them. If anything, they were pleasantly surprised at the outcome and the lack of intrusion on their special day. Have questions still? Call us.
I have questions about your wedding videography pricing! How does it work?
We have packages based on hours of coverage between 6 and 10 hours. However, we can create custom packages for our clients of any amount of time! We are flexible with filming at multiple locations as well. To give an idea, though, our 6 hour, full service package (meaning it comes with a highlight film AND a full edit) starts at $2800. We have highlight packages starting at $1800.
What is the process? What should we expect when working with Classic Filmworks?
We like to learn as much as we can about each couple. We are happy to meet in person, schedule a phone call, or just text back and forth! Once we have a couple on our schedule, we send out a questionnaire so that we can learn as much about their event as possible. We like to know how our couples met, and if they are doing any specific events at their wedding (exchanging gifts, first look, etc). We plan to arrive whenever our couple wants us there, but we suggest arriving about an hour before the dress goes on. We suggest scheduling timeline events within the timeframe so that we can capture everything. However, if our couples want to add time the day of, no problem! We can do that too!
What education and/or training do you have in the wedding videography field?
We have years of experience, as well as photography and videographer education. Nan has an associates degree in photography, Nikki has extensive video production related coursework. Nan has been in the videography industry over 20 years, and before that she specialized in portrait photography. Nikki has been in the industry for 13 years.
How did you get started doing this type of work?
We got started by working with other companies and were inspired to start our own. Nan started her business in 2001, and never looked back. She has always stayed up to date on current gear and trends and its been a fun journey!
What types of couples have you worked with?
We've worked with all types of customers! We love the diversity of our couples, and seeing all the different cultural ceremonies and customs! We love our clientele and enjoy meeting new people.
What advice would you give a couple looking to hire a wedding videographer?
Make sure your professional is just that - a professional. Sometimes people get a camera and think that makes them a videographer. There is so much more to it - audio, lighting, planning, etc. We've encountered many issues while shooting and we always have backup. We have backup to our backup! Non-professionals may not be prepared if something goes wrong. Also, make sure your videographer is clear about who is shooting your wedding. If they are going to send someone else to shoot it, you should know about it first., not the day of.
What questions should we be asking our wedding videographer?
Think about what you'd like to get. Does your professional offer a highlight only, or do you get a feature film too? What does their editing style look like? Are they willing to make edits if you need something changed? Do you like your videographer? Do you connect with this person? Its your wedding so you want to love your vendor team!
Venue: Wedgewood San Clemente
Hair & Makeup: Beauty and the Beach Hair and Makeup
DJ: Forever Tomorrow Events
Cake: It's All About The Cake
Florist: Flower Company of San Clemente (FCSC)
Venue: Wedgewood Fallbrook
Photography: Everlove Photography
DJ: Steve Ferreira
Officiant: SoCal Vows
Nikki Lopez contributes articles about wedding videography that are funny, fun, and useful to couples as well as other videographers. She hopes to educate and inspire.