HOW TO PLAN YOUR WEDDING

With video in mind

To us at Zen Film Works, a wedding video is all about the clients. It's not about gear, our style, what we want or how we think a wedding day should be told. It's all about YOU. YOUR personalities, YOUR taste in films, YOUR vision on what the day is about and how it looks. You are paying us to be able to make what you have created with your wedding planner beautiful in video and use what we know to be able to execute YOUR vision and tell YOUR story. 
That being said, we are always available for our clients to be able to give our knowledge of hundreds of weddings filmed, to help our clients get the best out of us and make their wedding video flawless and as in tune with the emotion and personality of this unique and amazing day.
So …. Let’s dive in and hopefully I can help you bring your best efforts to making your wedding video everything you dreamed. 

IT'S ALL ABOUT

YOU

Skip to These Chapters:

Let's Hear Your Voice

Morning Wedding Preparations

Wedding Ceremony

Wedding Portrait Session

Wedding Reception

Wedding Speeches

Wedding First Dance

LET'S HEAR YOUR VOICE

Have you noticed, that some of the most amazing moments in films are when the words the character says just melt you and start the tears rolling down your cheek?
Well, you too have the power to generate that kind of emotion. Some couples don’t like the sound of their voice, and that’s fine as everyone is different.
However if this is not a hurdle to overcome, then there is a lot of power in dialogue and here are some tips to get some amazing words to blend into your wedding video and boost the emotion in your video. 

1- LOVE LETTERS

An amazing way to add some intimate and touching dialogue into your video, is to write a letter to each other. These letters can be about how much you love your partner, how you are feeling about your wedding day and sending love to each other. These letters are then spoken to our camera by the author and captured forever. After recording this, the letters are exchanged and we can then get the reaction of your partner reading the letter themselves. This blend of spoken word and the reaction is powerful stuff and a very beautiful way to narrate your wedding video.

THIS WEDDING VIDEO SHOWS HOW WE BUILD A FILM AROUND A GROOMS LETTER TO HIS BRIDE

2- WRITE YOUR OWN VOWS

Writing your own vows offers an intimacy and personal touch to your wedding ceremony that nothing else can. These are YOUR words to your partner and your personal promise, into which , YOUR own story is weaved. This also gives us a great opportunity to build a video around your vows which is the essence of your story and wedding day. Take your time writing your vows, make it personal, add some of your relationship story and enjoy them. And guys, don’t be afraid to cry, it only makes the video better !!!!

This film shows how powerful a personal and intimate vow can be. And how we could build our video around this intimacy.

3 - GREAT SPEECHES

If you are the kind of person that is great at public speaking, then maybe the wedding speeches is your time to shine. Anyone can lead on this kind of dialogue. It can be a friend that is great with words, a groom, bride, father or mother of the bride, there are no rules. 
We are usually looking for speech dialogue that supports your love story, makes you laugh or cry or both. Speeches can be a great way of showing an outsiders perspective of the couples relationship.

Make sure in your speech you talk about your story, why you fell in love with your partner, maybe about the first time you met or kissed or said “I love you”. Talk to your partner, forget anyone else is in the room and the emotion will flow.

The grooms speeches in this film was beautiful and emotive and inspired us to make it a feature in the film.

MORNING WEDDING PREPARATIONS

The morning preparations of your wedding day can be really special and a great opportunity to share intimate moments with your close family and best friends. It is a time of nerves, laughter, tender moments with parents and friends, and an important time for us to capture raw and emotional times. 
So here are some tips to help us capture this time as best as possible.

Try to keep the getting ready space clean and tidy so as not to have any clutter in the background. We and the photographer will love you for that. We always recommend, if possible, to choose a beautiful space with a lot of natural light, this way we can then have options when it comes to getting those classic and beautiful getting ready shots. 

1 - Keep It Organised

For your own sanity and to make it a cleaner shot, its always best to limit the number of people in your getting ready area. Try to stick to the core people that you want around you. This will keep the space fun, calm and we will have more opportunities to get amazing shots of you getting ready and drinking champagne with your besties without too many people in the way.

2 - Keep It Chill

Another small thing to remember during this time, is that, once you are in your dress or suit and we have captured these amazing moments, we still need to pack up, get to your ceremony location, set up, capture b-roll shots of the location and be ready to capture the brides arrival, so make sure to talk to your wedding planer and videographer to allocate enough time for all this to happen. 
A bride ALWAYS goes over her time, and if you don’t want your wedding planner knocking on the door and pushing you out with a broom to the ceremony, allow that extra 30 mins into your plan for the small things that will inevitably take up more time than you think. 

3 - Timing Is Everything

In this Italy wedding video, the morning sequence is beautiful.

The Wedding Ceremony

As I said earlier the ceremony is the most intimate and emotionally charged part of your wedding day. This means that it is the best chance during your day, for us to capture the most raw, honest and amazing moments between the couple and also family. So here are a few tips to keep in mind when planing your ceremony. 

It is always a great idea to make sure your location is not near a noisy area or fountain as this will affect audio capture of your beautiful words. If your ceremony is outside try to position the space out of wind and make sure you as the couple are not in dappled or direct sunlight. Direct sun will make you sweat, squint and turn pink, which you will not want to see in your video or photography. 
A beautiful background always helps, so if you can, try to think about what will be behind you as it will be framing your ceremony

1 - Wedding Ceremony Location

Lighting is key to good cinema so it makes sense to try to plan your ceremony to be beautifully lit to make you look as best as possible. For you ceremony space, try to not add pink, blue or red lights as it is bad for skin tones. Keep the light colour neutral and not too dark. 
Try to NOT have the main light source of the room or the sun, behind you. This can be great for portraits, but for a ceremony its best to keep the lighting balanced. During pre-production calls with our clients, we talk about this and make a lighting plan to get the most out of the space and make you look as beautiful as possible

2 - Wedding Ceremony Light

Audio of course is key for your ceremony and we want to capture your ceremony as clearly as possible. So in order for us to do this, we place a Lavaliere microphone on the groom and celebrant. We also like to plug into the audio system of the venue if this is possible. Try to get a wireless mic from the venue or celebrant and NOT a wired mic on a stand as it will ruin the aesthetic of the space and be in EVERY picture.

3 - Audio

Your Wedding Portrait Session

The wedding portrait session of your day is, for us, a super creative time. This is where we can take you away for a breather and allow you to spend some quality time with your bride or groom. We have some tips that will make this portrait session as effective, efficient and fun as possible. 

If you are getting married in a city and plan to get around the city for portraits, ask your planner to book you a van for the time of your portraits. This gives you space for you and your love, the photographer and us, the video makers. You also have space to change if you are doing a dress change. This saves so much time as you will have a car waiting for you, always ready to take you to the next location. Taking 2 cars can cause issues in communication, loosing each other and more headaches you don’t need. If you have a classic car, take it to the 1st location, shoot the car and yourselves, then finish with the car and jump in the Van with us :)

1- Book a Van

During your portrait session, you have 2 different creatives trying to capture you in different methods and mediums. Therefore it is essential for you to allow time for both us, the videographer and the photographer to be able to do their job as best as possible. My wife is a wedding photographer @Clairemorrisphotography and from working with her and many other photographers we have learnt that it pays to allow enough time for us to do what we do best, so we both split the time at each location 50/50 . Therefore it takes double the time it would take with only 1 creative. We recommend roughly 30 minutes per location to be shot properly. This way you will have perfect images and an amazing wedding portrait video.

2 - Allow Time

If you can, it is always a good idea to bring your hair and makeup artist with us during the portrait session. This will mean that you will look your best in every shot as they see things we don’t and can make quick touchups to your hair and makeup as we shoot, to keep you looking crisp.

3 - Bring Your Beauty Team

In this Paris wedding video, the couple wanted ther wedding video to be focussed around the portraits.

The Wedding Reception

So the sun is starting to set and the party vibe is increasing. It’s Reception time. This is generally where you spent most of your money. Flowers, tables-scapes, lighting crew, musicians and food. It’s our job to capture this amazing spectacle as beautifully as possible. So here are some tips to make your wedding reception space as film friendly as possible.

Where your reception takes place is the first thing. Make sure it is weather safe and you will not be disturbed by wind or rain. Even if you stay dry, a flapping marquee in the wind will be distracting and cause audio issues when recording speeches. And of course choose the most beautiful and story fitting space that reflects who you are.

1 - Location

The design and shape of your wedding tables will dictate how we are able to shoot your speeches, other events and also the energy of the space. There is the classic series of circular tables, the long family style table and the horseshoe arrangement of tables, just to name a few. Your wedding planer will suggest a range of options for you and its great to chat with the wedding videographer for their input so as angles of sight can be discussed. The most effective to film is the horseshoe as we can set up in the middle and capture an array of faces and a clear shot of the wedding couple. This being said, we can always shoot any shape but it is important to consider where the couple will be seated and if all of their guests can see them.  

2 - Layout

Lighting is key to show off all your and your wedding designers hard work. Lighting can set the scene of your reception space, so it's important to make sure you think about how you want your guests to feel in this space. Coloured lighting can be a nice touch to create the mood, however for the film and photography its important for the lighting to have an option to have neutral light ( white to off white) to be able to show the colours of your flowers and table-scape in their correct hue. The way to achieve this is to talk with your videographer and lighting crew to be able to get a great balance of both mood and how best to have this space captured by your wedding videographer and wedding photographer.

3 - Lighting

This Paris wedding video shows a beautifully lit reception space that was film friendly.
Design by Alejandra Poupel

The Wedding Speeches

The wedding speeches are always a fun and emotional part of the wedding reception. But … There can be pitfalls though and here are some ways to make this part of your wedding day more film friendly and entertaining for your guests. 

Your guests LOVE YOU but an hour long speech can send some people to sleep. The best way to keep all guests listening and happy is to limit your speech to 10- 15 min max. This way your speech will be filled with important beautiful words and not all the filler and private jokes that most of your guests won’t understand. This rule includes parents who love to give a month by month timeline of there beautiful child’s life :)

1 - Keep it Short and Sweet

We love to cover the speaker with cameras on tripods to keep all our shots steady and crisp. The best way to do this is to have a microphone on a stand or if you don’t have a stand, make a mark on the ground that the speaker must stand on during their speech. This way we are able to have the speaker in the beautiful lighting we set up, the right background and in sharp focus. A roaming speaker can be problematic and move in and out of focus if you have a small wedding videographer crew shooting your wedding. We always speak to our couples on the day and work out the best location for the microphone stand so as they are not blocked by table centrepieces, guests or building supports. We also set up redundancy microphones around the speaker location incase the DJ’s sound system malfunctions, therefore if they stay in their place, then we have great back up audio feeds to deliver your speeches perfectly.

2 - Speaker Location

To capture your speeches sound beautifully, we always set up multiple microphones incase of malfunction or DJ error so it’s important that the speaker remains in their place and does not stray from the mic stand. It’s also great to let the DJ or sound company know that we will be plugging our audio recording equipment into their system so a chat before the day is great to know what equipment we need to be able to do this.

3 - Audio Audio Audio

Let's Dance

So your wedding day has run its beautiful course and it’s time to party. Your first dance can be a fabulous event of the day. Some couples choreograph their own which can be incredible. Our advice is go for it and make it all about you and have FUN !!!  Here are just a couple of tips to make your first dance and party celebrations look amazing.

Ways that can make this dance the most film friendly as possible is to think about lighting. TALK to us and your lighting company and talk about how we can make the lighting dramatic, beautiful and dance focussed. A single white spotlight is sometimes all you need to make this dance you have practised for months, look just epic.

1 - Wedding Party Lighting

In this Paris wedding video, we used a single spotlight to light the first dance and it looked beautiful.

We love to come and watch you rehearse your dance so we know when all the amazing parts of the dance are and where we need to be to capture it. This way we know how much space we need and can be ready to frame you in the best way possible. 

2 - Wedding Dance Rehearsals

In this film, our couple rehearsed their first dance with us and it was a focus of our film. 

Final Thoughts...

So there you have it. Thank you for reading this far I hope this has helped you with some insights that will make your wedding film AMAZING. All of this kind of info we go over with our couples before the wedding day and it would be a pleasure to talk to you too. 
If you would like to contact us, please reach out and we can answer any questions you may have. 
I wish you the best of luck with your wedding plans and CONGRATULATIONS on your wedding day !!
To contact us
Click this link HERE
With love, 
Chris x 

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i am a self-taught film maker