We've gotten quite a few questions lately about the best ways to set up for different ceremonies (after all, no matter how much you plan ahead of time, weddings are still unpredictable) So your best bet is to compensate ahead of time to protect yourself and your client's memories from the things you can't control. Here's our simplest break-down of our set-ups for different common situations. If you're unsure of some of the gear we're referring to, we've linked our favorites into each set-up (in green), so you can just click to check them out.
Challenges- Combating lots of moving subjects, wide range of things happening, long length of time filming
Gear: 4 cameras, 3 audio recorders, two lav mics, three tripods, one free-standing monopod
Set-Up: One camera on a tripod in the back or balcony, one tripod on the wide right, one tripod on the wide left, one recorder/lav mic on priest, one recorder/lav mic on groom, one recorder sitting on the podium.
Game-Plan: This set-up can work with one or two videographers. If you're alone, you'll just need to be prepared to stay on your feet to adjust your cameras each time your subjects sit down or stand up or the individual who is speaking moves to the podium. Use the back camera as your safety angle (the one you can cut to when all else fails). Once the processional is over and you feel confident about where your monopod and left camera are set up, move the tripod into the aisle, closer to the action because chances are the photographer will stand in front of your tripod to get some center aisle shots at some point. Your camera on the right should be a wide angle of the action, framing the entire pulpit and the podium for most of the ceremony. When it's time for vows and the kiss, set the camera to frame tighter on the bride's face so you have a good shot of her speaking. On the left side, your tripod should be framed tight on the couple for most of the ceremony so you have a good shot to cut to of their reactions to everything. Your monopod will be the one piece of gear that is moving the most because you will be using it to follow the action of the priest during his homily and the speakers at the podium. Between all four angles, you should be able to be confident that you'll have at least one that is framed well when you're editing later.
Challenges- Wind messing up your audio, unpredictable weather, tighter spaces, unique aisle or walkway
Gear: 4 cameras, 3 audio recorders,two lav mics, lav mic sponges, two tripods, one free-standing monopod, stabilizing rig (crane, ronan, etc.) RCA, 1/8", 1/4", and XLR (both male and female) adapters, trash bags, hair-tie
Set-Up: One camera on a tripod in the back (by a tree if there is one), one tripod on the wide right, one camera on monopod on the wide left, one camera on the rig, one recorder/lav mic on officiant, one recorder/lav mic on groom, one recorder plugged in to sound board or speaker system if possible. If that's not possible, then you're using the hair-tie (explained below)
Game-Plan: You'll set up the middle tripod as your wide safety shot, and the right camera as a wide shot as well, framing the bride's face when it gets closer to vows. Your monopod will most likely be able to act as your third steady angle for most of the ceremony, but will be great to frame the groom's face for vows. Outdoor ceremonies tend to be on the quicker side, so you'll have less time to re-adjust the angles of your cameras, so it's best to just set them for three stable shots you can cut to when you're editing. The camera on the rig can be used for creative shots and family reactions as well as an awesome shot of the bride walking down the aisle (we like to get a creative shot of the groom's face from over the bride's shoulder when we can). For any wedding, we suggest putting a lav mic on both the groom and the officiant. Almost always, outdoor ceremonies will have some sort of sound-system. If the DJ will let you plug in, go for it (that's why we listed so many different types of cords and adapters. Those are the most common ones you'll need, and you never know what the DJ will have available for you to plug into). If there is no DJ or you are not able to plug in anywhere, that's where the hair-tie trick comes in. Double-loop the hair-tie around the recorder and strap it onto the back of the wedding altar/trellis/arch behind some flowers. You'll get the best sound that way and the wind will be blocked by the flowers you tucked the recorder behind. Trash bags are the perfect thing to cover your gear and your cameras if it starts raining. You can tie the bottom of the bag around the base of your camera and rip a small hole in the bag to fit exactly around your lenses.
Challenges- Limited space for tripods, not much room to walk around
Gear: 4 cameras, 3 audio recorders,two lav mics, one tripod, one mini bendable tripod, one free-standing monopod, stabilizing rig (crane, ronan, etc.), hair-tie, zip-ties
Set-Up: One camera on a tripod in the back (you might have to set up the legs closer together so it won't be in the way), one camera on the mini tripod on the windowsill on the right if there is one. If there is no good windowsill for a wide right angle, mount it up on anything else you can find on the right side. Put another camera on the monopod on the left side, and your fourth camera on the rig. One lav mic on groom, one lav mic on officiant, and the other recorder hidden on the floor behind some flowers or decorations.
Game-Plan: This plan works best with two videographers, only because tighter spaces mean that you will have a tough time moving to check your cameras once the ceremony has begun. As always, the back camera is your wide safety shot. Same goes for the camera on the bendable tripod on the right side. Frame it wide because you probably won't be able to get back over there easily to adjust it any other way. If you are mounting it on something, make sure you use the zip-ties too. You don't want that camera to come tumbling down. Your other two cameras will be the ones you'll have the most control over because ideally you will have one videographer controlling each one. Use both cameras to capture the moments that you know are not being framed by the other two cameras.
General Advice for any Wedding
Contact the other vendors you'll be working with in advance- especially the photographer and DJ. Your day will go so much more smoothly if you come up with a game plan together ahead of time and find out what you'll be working with.
Check to see what your over-heating time limit is on your cameras. Many cameras will only run for 20 minutes straight before shutting off to protect from over heating. I always set a stop-watch on my wrist so I can watch how long our cameras have been running.
Keep extra batteries in your back pocket. You never know when you might need to switch one out.
We love connecting with videographers of all experience levels and we are always excited to share advice and tips. We can't say we know everything-not even CLOSE. But if we can help you avoid some of the lessons we learned the hard way, we absolutely will pay it forward.
Reach out to us any time with your questions!
or ask us about our 1 on 1 coaching sessions for more specific help.
Just starting out and trying to find essential gear that you can afford? Check out out our "Dirt Cheap Must-Have Gear" post HERE