While hiring a still photographer is usually a given for most weddings, hiring a wedding videographer is sometimes considered more of a luxury. There's no doubt about it, weddings can be expensive and sometimes the cost of a videographer can seem high and well, cousin Billy just got a new camcorder…

But be careful, because along with shooting your wedding, Cousin Billy will probably also be hitting the bar and maybe hitting on that really pretty bridesmaid because Billy will be there to have fun, after all you invited him, you didn't hire him.

So if you really want a video of your wedding (and things like the first dance and the cake cutting and the bouquet toss,) the only way to make sure you get one is to hire a professional wedding videographer.

If you do decide to hire a videographer you should get the most for your money and you should find someone whose style matches your own. Below are the top 5 questions I think it's most import to ask (besides price.) I've put this list together based on what I actually do in preparing to shoot a wedding. It should give you an idea of how we go about shooting a wedding as well as help you to get what you really want out of a videographer.

5 Questions You Can Ask

1: Ask if they use broadcast quality cameras. This can make a big difference in how your video looks. In the trade these are usually referred to as "3-chip cameras." Any serious wedding videographer will have these. Also, find out how many cameras they'll use to "cover" the wedding. I generally use two at the ceremony and one at the reception, though for big weddings I'll use two at the reception as well.

2: Ask if editing is included. I always edit my videos. Handing over a tape that I've shot and dubbed without touching just isn't an option for me. Editing makes a better video for you and allows me to try a little harder during the reception to get really cool shots - because I know if something doesn't work, I don't have to use it. But of course editing is more work and costs more, so if you're getting a deal that seems too good to be true, ask about this one.

3: Ask to see a DVD or tape of their work. I don't put clips on my website but I do encourage potential clients to ask for a DVD demo reel. A lot of people hire someone based on the one-minute clips of video they've posted to their website. A video may look great in a small box on your computer monitor, but what will it look like on your plasma screen at home? This is also a really good way to see what the videographer's style of shooting is. If you find a videographer you like but you've seen an element on someone else's demo reel that you want to include, don't be afraid to request it, most of us are always looking for new ideas.

4: Ask if they use wireless microphones for the ceremony. Again, this is something any professional wedding videographer will have but it can make a HUGE difference. I always put a microphone on the groom and one the officiant, minister or rabbi, if I can. That way I can be sure to get the audio of the entire ceremony crisp and clean on tape. Since I don't put one on the bride, by using two this way I can be sure to get her voice no matter which way she's facing.

5: Ask how they approach guests. I love to get little clips of the guests offering best wishes or advice to the couple that I can include in a final edit. But as your representative, the last thing I want to do is harass your guests. Generally speaking, I'll approach guests once and ask if they'd like to participate. I always try to avoid interrupting conversations if I can. If someone says no, or they don't feel comfortable doing it then I take them at their word and don't pester them.

In my experience, Grandparents usually seem to be the most likely to say, no, so if you really want them on the video, you may want to say something to them before the wedding.

©2005 Ronald J. Thomas