We at SDE Weddings, Toronto’s premier wedding videography and cinematography group have filmed a multitude of wedding events and have lived through countless wedding day memories as diverse as the populace of Toronto itself. Though our clientele may be perfect for each other, not everything may be as perfect on the day of the wedding, and undoubtedly we’ve ran into various hiccups and logistical quandaries along the way. Our extensive experience has helped us pick up a few tips and tricks to help you steer clear of the most glaring mistakes and also some that can help augment and improve the emotive ambiance of your special day. Here are some our most important tips for prospective couples preparing for the long walk down the aisle. Last Updated: November 13th, 2016
General Wedding Tips
1) A storytelling tip for bride and groom: perform your preparations near the windows.
We are fans of natural lighting, and undoubtedly most people are. From the experience of our videographers and cinematographers, natural lighting really makes your day’s brightest moments even brighter for the camera. Natural light is just what it is, more “natural”. It helps bring out the fullest colours and textures on film and photos. With your wedding day prep of meticulous make-up sessions and worrisome wardrobe choices, we want you and your spouse looking your best for all your special moments, and not just for the day, but for your specially made marriage memento that we will prepare for you.
2) Plan the various wedding day meal services beforehand.
If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, why would you skip it on the most important day of your life? From our videographers and cinematographers’ experience, many couples they’ve worked with seldom ever plan out the details for their breakfast services. This leaves the couple and their guests without much to fill up on until the reception services begin, which tends to be well into the day. A big mistake like that is easily avoidable by simply preventing being lethargic and out of energy during the day’s proceedings. Sometimes spelling disaster in and of itself, feeling spent and tired on your wedding day would be enough to ruin what would could’ve been something magical – and if the experience itself isn’t enough, the cameras can certainly tell the tired story in detail. Not something anyone would want on their wedding! We recommend having coffee or teas available during the morning as a convenient caffeine jolt to keep you and your entourage awake and alert. Many couples that our videographers and cinematographers have worked with have been too anxious to get a good night’s sleep during the night before their big day, so a nice caffeine kick usually does wonders. However, don’t overdo the dosage as too much energy during the ceremonial services could also lead to a none-too-pleasing outcome.
3) Having yourselves a wedding-day coordinator is highly recommended.
Preparation and planning for an event as monumental as a wedding day might seem a mountainous climb in itself, though some couples choose rather courageously to brave through the trek alone; going without a wedding planner. Some succeed, of course, but we feel that they’re taking on an unnecessary burden on their wedding day. From our videographers and cinematographers’ experience in working with many couples over the years, we’ve found that hiring a wedding planner would do wonders in keeping everything both convenient and comfortable for the couple on a day where such luxuries should be a given.
A more stringent suggestion of ours is to have not simply a wedding planner, but a wedding-day coordinator. A specified person that works closely with you and your loved ones and can be an effective conduit for your wedding day details; acting as the go-to person to whom all the vendors, videographers and cinematographers answer to. A wedding-day coordinator can help with numerous things that a simple wedding planner is often not obliged to offer, such as helping to queue the songlist for the DJ, picking and planning out the wedding day décor, and most importantly, making sure everything is running on schedule – thus maximizing the enjoyable memories for you and your loved ones. From the many wedding days covered by our videographers and cinematographers, the ones with a convenient wedding-day coordinator around have always gone swimmingly, the shots looking perfectly, and the schedule running along swiftly – giving our cameras ample time to cover more memories to share with your loved ones!
4) Delegate your responsibilities.
No, this is not the oval office, but with how important your wedding day is for you and your loved ones, in your eyes, it might as well be. Take heed of this advice from our videographers and cinematographers and try your best to preside over your bridal party. Assign duties for each person, mobilize your maids of honor, give functions for your family members, etc. A good example is having your bridal party help in arranging seating accommodations for all the guests as they arrive. This is especially important if you’ll have a guest count numbering well above the high hundreds. A well organized and mobilized wedding party makes the day move all the more smoother, giving ample time for you and your loved ones to focus on the details that matter once the logistics are taken care of. And with that, plenty more perfect shots for our videographers and cinematographers to take in throughout the day.
5) Have one trusted family member handle payment responsibilities for vendors at the wedding.
Rather a subpoint of the point addressed above, but we felt that it was significant enough an issue to highlight by itself – a useful piece of advice that would make your wedding day run even smoother. Remember that beyond your family, friends and the entire guest list to whom the wedding day takes prime importance for, there are many people behind the scenes making the entire operation run as perfectly as it could all for the sake of creating something magical out of your special day. From the clergy people in charge of ceremonies, to photographers, DJ services, limousine drivers, floral services, hair and makeup artists and the like, and many more. The entire cast and crew of your wedding day working diligently behind the scenes to ensure that you and your loved ones get the most out of this magical moment. From the experience of our videographers and cinematographers, from talking to the many vendors we’ve worked with, most would agree that payment arrangements at the end of the night would be more optimal than scheduling a meeting after the wedding. This is since most couples we’ve worked with have their honeymoons immediately after their wedding day, and so they end up putting off the payments of the vendors for a later date. So as a humble request from the vendors we’ve worked with, we highly recommend that a wedding planner, co-ordinator or designated family member is dispatched to oversee vendor payments so that after-wedding stress levels are minimized for all parties, and that you and your spouse can enjoy your honeymoon without worrying about any extra details.
6) Hire a professional MC and DJ.
Contrary to what you’ve might have heard from the Beastie Boys, you don’t need 3 MC’s and 1 DJ to get down with no delay. Really, just one of each is good enough. From wedding party experience taken from our videographers and cinematographers, An MC is good to have on hand to get everyone excited, pumped up, and flooding onto the dance floor, making for exciting and memorable scenes for the cameras. As for the DJ, that’s really self-explanatory. However, please remember that the DJ should play appropriate music for different age groups, as the old folks might not be quite receptive to the latest Drake hit (though it’d be great if they were!), or your bratty little nephews might not have matured enough for the soothing sounds of Sinatra. If there are different strokes for different folks, then leave it to the DJ to strike the chord with everyone.
7) Start the open bar services after all speeches are made, or close the open bar during speeches.
In either case, a word of advice from our videographers and cinematographers, is to not have both an open bar and wedding speeches running together at the same time. Word to the wise, a rowdy and imbibed crowd probably won’t digest a speaker’s words as well as all the alcohol they’ve taken in. And in the inopportune scenario that you might know a friend or two that just can’t take in their alcohol very well (and let’s face it, who doesn’t know at least a handful of these folks), then you’ll have to deal with the very real possibility of inappropriate banter and/or heckling during the wedding speeches. Two things that should obviously not mix at all, no matter how well the bartender mixes your favourite cocktails.
8) Have a wedding rehearsal.
If all the world’s a theatre awaiting your curtain call, then your wedding day must be the grandest performance of your life. And thus, a wedding rehearsal to review the roles you’ve set aside for everyone in the bridal party is an absolute essential element to have in your itinerary if you would so will a magnificent performance on your wedding day. You too should also note that our videographers and cinematographers here at SDE Weddings make it a diligent duty of theirs to always attend and participate in any wedding rehearsals you might be planning if there is a notice given in advance of the rehearsal schedule. A wedding rehearsal is also helpful in many ways for our videographers and cinematographers, as it helps them observe the ceremony practices beforehand, giving us an optimal vantage point to plan out the wedding routine days ahead – affording us the chance to film everything on your wedding day in the best conditions possible, making sure your footage turns out as perfectly as the memories captured themselves turned out for you.
9) Hold a final meeting before the wedding with all the important vendors.
Our videographers and cinematographers, alongside our main staff, typically hold a final meeting with you and your fiancé before the wedding day proper. This meeting happens usually three to four weeks beforehand. We use this meeting to review all the details of your wedding day schedule, what you might expect from the wedding day, and all the many and varied details of the special day that are of particular importance to you and your loved ones. Several of our previous clients have ended up becoming too tied-up with wedding planning details and chose to opt-out of this important meeting altogether. However, we still highly recommend that you give some time out of your schedule to meet with – not just us, but all of your important vendors. From photographers and DJ services to florists and makeup artists and the like, just to make sure everyone’s primed and ready for the big day. For our case, this meeting is not just a simple double-check of the details, but also an opportunity for you to get comfortable and acquaint yourselves with our ever-talented videography and cinematography team.
10) Optimize the breadth and depth of the reception speech ceremony.
Here are some helpful tips from our videographers and cinematographers from their experience in filming speeches through the many weddings we’ve covered over the years. A time limit for each speech is essential. As they say, brevity is the soul of wit, so make every minute and every word count. Also, make sure that your speakers are aware of what kind of audience they’re addressing and hence what constitutes proper subject matter which could be addressed. If your guest list includes distant relatives and/or children, perhaps off-colour jokes might leave less than desirable impressions. Indeed, a rule of thumb is to try and minimize off-colour speech material in general. Make sure to remind anyone writing a speech to exercise proper judgment in what words would be well-received by your audience. As a note on logistics, please ensure that your speakers stand underneath the spotlight or at the podium while delivering their speeches, as it was in the case during previous weddings that several speakers moved around a bit too much for our videographers to get a steady shot of them. All of this should be best noted by anyone writing a speech for your wedding day, and we wish any well-wishers the best wishes on their best-wishes.
11) Have a slow entrance and exit at the ceremony.
You’ve just gotten married, you’ve taken the first step in a life and future with your most beloved, the hard part of building trust and love is over, now go slow and take it easy. There’s no need to rush, especially not on your wedding day, when you’ve got your entire married life ahead of you. Enjoy these precious moments, as the slow stride to and from the ceremony – moments lasting mere minutes – will be etched in your mind forever. As a top from our videographers and cinematographers, a slower paced walk gives an added touch of elegance to your procession, giving a rightful appearance of grace and class that we’d all love to have on a wedding day. This also helps photographers, as a more careful stride down the aisle gives plenty of time and thus better opportunities to get the best possible wedding day shots. Most importantly, a slow yet pronounced pace adds a dimension of depth to the storytelling experience on film, and helps to emphasize the enormity of what’s immediately ahead in every step.
12) Place the vendor table close to the bride & groom.
To outline an anecdote from our videographers and cinematographers, one particular wedding we had been involved with had to accommodate well over five hundred guests, and our film crew’s seating arrangements – alongside the photographers’ – were placed at the far end of the banquet hall, all the way in the opposite end from the bride and groom. This turned out to be a massive logistical problem for us, as this entailed a five minute walk back and forth from our table to theirs whenever we needed to grab new equipment to film with for the different shots our videographers take. Outlining another similar incident, this one had our designated table on an entirely different floor from the reception hall of the hotel. Such examples end up making our work extra strenuous and places an added burden and unnecessary difficulty for our videographers, which ends up directly impacting their performance and the quality of their shots. We advise you to please avoid making a similar mistake, as to capture you at your best, we too must also be at our best.
13) Accommodate the vendors.
A subpoint of the one above that needs extra attention. Not just for the sake of our videographers and cinematographers, but for vendors in general. Please don’t neglect arranging a designated vendor table. The above logistical difficulties weren’t the worst we’ve had to deal with, surprisingly, as some weddings we’ve worked on hadn’t arranged any vendor tables at all – unsurprisingly making not just our jobs difficult, but also added extra stress to the photographers and any on-site vendors involved during both the ceremony and celebration. Simply some minimal accommodation (a table, meals on occasion, seating arrangements and designated breaks) for our videographers and cinematographers would do a world of good for us, and would help greatly in giving your wedding day shots the care and precision needed to ensure perfect footage to match a perfect day. As our videographers and cinematographers are typically up and prepared by six or seven in the morning to prepare the filming process, a long day of work should have all its efforts placed on capturing you and your loved ones in the best possible light, with little to no extraneous details to take away from your film’s quality.
14) Create a list of shots for your family photos.
At the end of your wedding ceremony, everyone is undoubtedly excited to take as many snapshots as they could with the newlyweds. Simple laws of supply (you) and demand (your guests) makes such a scenario as close to catastrophic as one gets at an event, as our videographers and cinematographers have come to find. Thus, in order to avoid any post-wedding faux-pas, we recommend that you and your spouse prepare a list of important people with which to take the essential wedding day pictures with; closest family members and friends, etc, so that no single person is missing from your shots – as imagine having a beautiful wedding day film with certain significant faces sadly absent from the scene! Our videographers and cinematographers recommend having either some family member, friend or wedding coordinator to manage and oversee this list and ensure that everyone in the catalog has their pictures and video shots taken with you on your special day, giving you and them an unforgettable memento of a truly magical moment.
15) Be a conscious consumer: shop around for vendors.
To restate our most favoured metaphor for our work; the many and varied vendors play a significant part as cast and crew in the premier performance that is your wedding day. From the videographers and cinematographers to wedding planners and coordinators, to photographers, florists, makeup artists, musicians and more. To make your storybook wedding day a reality, you will need an immense input from as many resourceful and intrepid entrepreneurs as you can get. Fortunately for you, for quite literally everything you need to set up a perfect wedding day, there’s a vendor or company out there willing to lend a helping hand.
16) Hire a security guard for your wedding.
Safety and security should be among your most important priorities for your wedding day. Having designated security personnel present at your ceremony and celebration will ensure that you and your loved ones can enjoy your treasured moments with absolute peace of mind. As with any large logistical undertaking, having security staff is essential to prevent any misdeeds from dampening the otherwise joyous mood of your wedding day. We make sure to highlight this point as it had happened before with our videographers and cinematographers that there were events we’ve covered that had thefts occur during the filming process. As such, we recommend that you take absolute precaution and ensure that any such risks are minimized with proper security personnel on hand.
17) Use a #hashtag for your wedding.
Be a trendsetter, literally. On twitter, instagram, facebook, pinterest, tumblr, whatever social media platform you’ve got a presence on. A clever idea our videographers and cinematographers have encountered from several couples we’ve filmed for on their wedding day involved having a special hashtag to commemorate the occasion. Apart from being trendy, this serves the essential purpose of aggregating all social media postings of your event in one convenient hashtag. With a central source on twitter, you and your guests can quickly share pictures and video throughout the day – from candid snapshots to beautiful family portraits, and everything in between! And who knows, maybe you’ll invite even more guests from cyberspace to join in on your wedding day festivities!
18) Use a spotlight for the reception speakers.
Put a shimmering shine on your spotlight guests! For the most important guests on your wedding day guestlist, relatives and friends from out of town, etc, please make sure to ask the main speaker for your reception to have these special persons stand in the spotlight for full visibility to our cameras, giving us the best possible view to capture them in film or photos. Our videographers and cinematographers want to ensure that your wedding film features any and all important faces alongside your own throughout the scenes we take. Making a truly vibrant wedding day celebration fully alive, make sure to afford every supporting character in the master-play that is your wedding day as much of the spotlight as they need to truly shine with you.
19) The groom should consider getting magnetic clip-on boutonnieres.
Because whatever the internet might have told you, “animal magnetism” can only get you so far. Having your clip-on boutonnieres be magnetic is another helpful tip from our videographers and cinematographers, as experience from filming has led them to figure that having magnetic clip-ons can work as a safeguard against the inopportune event that the groom might lose their boutonnieres. Or during the hectic shuffle of the ceremony, boutonnieres that aren’t fastened well enough might fall off and, well, you can imagine how much that’ll add to the already stressful scenario.
20) The bride should ideally be prepared by the time our videographers and other vendors arrive in the morning.
A crucial tip from our videographers and cinematographers is that they should expect the vendors and be “pre-prepared” for the day, if that makes sense. Basically, while our videographers and cinematographers will indeed play their part in filming the make-up session, the dress fitting and so on, there should ideally be no unnecessary down-time between our film crew’s arrival and the start of filming. So stuff like breakfast, freshening up, and anything in between should all be covered upon the arrival of the vendors. (The bride’s hair & makeup is usually about 2 hours long.)
Typically, the bride needs about 2 hours with our videographers/cinematographers and the photographers in the morning. The groom needs about 45 minutes to 1 hour with our videographers and your photographers.
21) Consider stream-lining your wedding procession.
A somewhat radical suggestion from our videographers and cinematographers, this should be considered by couples who would prefer to budget their time wisely and have a preference for extra time for filming scenes outside the ceremony. Our film crew has encountered couples who had chosen to perform only the slow walk down the aisle and skip a similar slow walk back down. Rather, once they’ve tied the knot, they went immediately to celebration-mode; doing family pictures, making their way to special photo-shoot locations or directly to the reception hall. This gives at least a bit more time to engage the audience, family and friends alike.
22) A concise breakdown of suggested wedding day schedule outlines:
We suggest that you should plan about an hour and a half to two hours for photoshoot sessions, an hour for the bridal party and family photos, and an hour for filming and photos solely with videographers and photographers.