The unexpected cost of a friend filming your wedding video
It’s with the best of intentions when a beloved friend offers to help you save some bucks by shooting your wedding video. But there are some things to consider before you say "Yes."
Cutting professional video from your wedding budget is one of the most common ways to save money on a wedding.
Having a friend (who would otherwise be a guest) film for you sounds like a compelling idea at first. Especially considering almost everyone has access to good quality video right in their pockets.
But having a friend film your wedding ends up being a very costly mistake that can’t be made right.
A friend is a guest first, cameraperson second.
A friend as stand-in videographer is tricky business since by default they are a guest and as a guest they are going to inherently want to experience your wedding. You want them to enjoy your wedding, too!
But the split attention of simultaneously experiencing the wedding AND working the wedding is a difficult task which opens the door to many errors and missed shots.
As simple as it sounds, it takes a lot of skill to hold a camera steady for a long time. It’s physically exhausting and people who do not do this on a regular basis will not provide a steady video.
Lighting will not be perfect. Video will be dark and grainy. Colors will not be balanced. They will not have access to quality audio.
My friend is awesome with a camera, what could go wrong?
It’s almost impossible to resist being a part of the party when you’re a “working guest”
They’re going to be distracted because that’s the nature of being a guest at a party. Talking to friends. Having a couple of drinks. Getting caught up with your favorite song. It’s almost impossible not to act like a guest when you’re a “working guest” at a wedding.
Hell, we won’t even film our own family’s weddings because we KNOW we want to enjoy celebrating with them. We don’t want to be a working guest. We know we’ll miss something important or just not have a fun time like we want to as a guest.
And as harsh or weird as that sounds, we take that stance because we know what’s at stake if we do mess up.
Something always goes wrong at a wedding—always.
A wedding is unlike any other type of event. They're complicated and require the experience and knowledge of a seasoned professional to be in the right place in the right time and ask the right questions.
Because we've done this hundreds of times, we’re able to be in the right places to capture important moments, ensuring they're picture perfect instead of out of focus because of being rushed. We have assistants. We've all worked with each other before. There's a rhythm to your event that we know inside and out.
Batteries run out at the worst times. Someone runs for a bathroom break without realizing the first dance is happening. The timeline was totally effed and professional vendors like the caterer and photographer aren't going to fill them in on the timeline change. And it's likely they're not going to be prepared.
Your friend likely isn’t going to be able to capture your special firework display or sparkler exit because those need special lighting situations and shots from multiple angles to look breathtaking.
We also know how to light a scene and how to set up mics for audio quality.
That might not seem important now but it will be incredibly important to you when you watch your wedding video and you can't hear your vows or speeches.
You might end up hating them when they miss filming your first dance.
If something goes wrong, they’re not your favorite friend anymore. Now they’re the friend who ruined your wedding video. The one who missed your first kiss, the cake cutting and has the shaky footage of the first dance because she was trying to enjoy the party, too.
I don’t say that lightly.
If you’re at all looking forward to your video and you have a way to budget for it but have a friend do it instead. The amount of regret you’ll face and unintentional resentment sit in your chest for a long, long time. That is a permanent mark on their record that doesn’t come out.
It’s your wedding you don't want your irreplaceable memories to be hampered.
The point of this article isn’t to talk you into buying a wedding video. It’s to get you thinking about what you VALUE most.
If you don’t value video, hey, no problem. But if you really cherish the idea of having a keepsake that you’ll watch all the time that’s high quality—then you’re going to have to really think twice about what a friend is going to be able to give you.
Unless they have a portfolio, you’re not really going to know how it’s going to turn out until AFTER your wedding. After you want to see what happened. After you want to hear your vows again because you don’t actually remember saying them (which happens all the time… adrenaline is a memory-killer)
What you want might not be there. Or it might not be up to your expectations and that’s not a moment you’re going to get back.
One of our most recent brides booked us for this very reason.
To save money, a friend of hers had a friend film their wedding and it was a disaster. Our bride knew her wedding video was too important to her to try to use that as an area to cut costs, so she hired a professional video team. She hasn’t even seen the sneak peek film we release and she’s already in love with the in-camera footage we’ve shown her.
Your friend will still be at the wedding, I’m sure of it. But instead of rolling the dice and praying the images and audio come out alright, hire a professional, let your friend enjoy the party, and you get to rest easy knowing that what’s important to you is covered by professionals.
We're Sean and Cindy of Harborview Studios, a husband & wife videography team who specialize in creating upscale wedding videos with just the right blend of fun and emotion. We're perfect for couples who are head-over-heels in love, delight in laughter, and savor the sweet moments in life.
Usually you can find us shooting weddings on Cape Cod, but we're down to travel for super fun couples who are planning a magical wedding experience outside of New England.