It's your special day, you want your memories of that day to be perfect, like the day itself. You spend countless hours looking & researching, talking to friends - after all, it's a major project and very few of us have experience in planning lots of weddings. How do you choose?
Ask to see examples of real weddings
Not the beautifully edited highlights or compilation videos but the real footage as seen by the clients. Ask to see examples of ceremonies & receptions or bride & groom preparations, that's where the real action is, that's what you'll be getting and what you should be looking at to see the quality of their work.
You should ask to see multiple examples, not just the best one that they want to show you! Look at the style of the camera work & editing - that's what you'll be getting so you should make sure that's the style you want. Is it fast and furious or gentle and soothing? Is there a lot of slow motion footage or 'wobbly cam'?
Ask if they can use the music of your choice
Some videographers will refuse to use commercial music and they make the choice for you. Others have an APRA/AMCOS licence which allows them to use commercial music - after all, it's your day, it should be your choice.
What exactly are you getting for your money?
Most videographers will show you some beautiful 3 minute highlights or 'wedding films' and that may be what you want - but is that all you get? If your videographer is there for 8 or 10 hours filming you should at least get 90 minutes of footage including the ceremony & reception in addition to your wedding day highlights. Be careful they don't try to upsell you later, saying they're about to delete your footage but they can supply the complete ceremony for an extra fee.
Look at their Facebook page for reviews
Check that the reviews look legitimate - same for Google; are they positive reviews and are they real? (it's an unfortunate fact that some people pay for likes & reviews instead of letting them build naturally.) How many likes or followers do they have? While a page can have too few likes, they can also have too many - yes, people actually pay for likes as well - just to make themselves look good. There's no reason you can't contact some of their reviewers directly to find out what they really think - just to confirm and give you confidence that you're making the right choice.
Look at their pricing and inclusions
Are there any hidden costs such as travel etc. Do they have 'options' that you're obliged to pay later to actually get your whole wedding video? Are they offering a huge discount? If so, ask yourself why? (See our FAQ about discounts here) Why would a business offer their product at 30% or 50% off, or at less than half what others are charging? You just might have stumbled upon a real bargain but can you risk it for your wedding day? Although it is important, price should not be the primary factor in your decision. Going for a cheap rate and getting a cheap product is never worth it. Certainly when they start out, with only a camera and a couple of lenses, some people can afford to undercharge but any experienced professional will arrive at your wedding with at least $10k worth of equipment.
Who turns up on the day?
Unfortunately some people will double-book the day or take any & every booking they can get and then farm the work out to sub-contractors. A month before your wedding they will be frantically advertising on private forums to find someone, anyone who can turn up on the day. Ask who turns up on the day. Do they use sub-contractors? Are you getting who your paid for?
Look for experience
You may have a friend who knows someone who has filmed 3 weddings and they look fantastic. And, on a perfect day, they might do a great job. But it's knowing what to do when things go wrong that makes a professional, and that only comes with time and first-hand experience. Don't risk your most important day on a "weekend warrior" ! Look for a production company that's full time. When you look on their Facebook page & their website, check to see how many examples of different weddings you can see - if there's only 5 or 10 then it's likely that they're only just starting out.
Are they legit?
Pretty much anyone can start a Facebook page and throw up lots of wedding related posts. You should check to see that they have a website & a proper business email (not Gmail or Hotmail). Do they have an A.B.N. (EVERY business should have an ABN and it should be prominently displayed on their website & Facebook page) Is their business name registered? It's really easy to do a free search on a business name/ABN and it's something you should do for every vendor. Do they have Public Liability Insurance? More & more venues are asking to see a certificate of currency so why can't you? Checks like these aren't a guarantee but they certainly point to a level of professionalism that you want in your wedding suppliers.
What are the payment terms?
Any professional will have adjustable payment terms, so after an initial deposit or booking fee, ask about flexible terms that suit you. If you're asked for large payments like 50% upfront then beware- just like extreme discounting, large deposits suggest your vendor has money problems. A recent example that ended up on A Current Affair was a dodgy company offering 50% off for full payment on booking - turns out they weren't paying the sub-contractors who turned up to film the wedding, they weren't turning up themselves and they weren't delivering the weddings they had filmed. Their house was recently sold, they've moved away and some of the brides still haven't got their wedding video.
Are they local?
Do you really want a company from interstate to film your wedding? If you absolutely LOVE their work and the price is right, maybe - just be sure it's them that turns up on the day. Lot's of companies will take any booking they can get and then try to find a local guy that will sub-contract to do the job - is that want you want?
It really helps if your videographer is familiar with the area, knows the venues and other professionals you have booked for the day - they need to work together as a team to provide you with the best memories of your day.