Expert Advice: A Guide to Hiring a Wedding Videographer

Videography is one of the fastest-growing segments in the wedding industry. More couples are placing an importance on preserving the memory of the day, and wedding videography has evolved into cinematic movies that capture the elements that make your wedding so cherished.

One of the biggest regrets of couples after their wedding day is not hiring a wedding videographer or not hiring a professional videographer. While you may have a photographer to document certain aspects of the day, it is not a substitution for videography, as you'll discover below.

So that you can be educated on what to look for in a wedding videographer, why you should hire one, and how much to budget, we interviewed our preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay videographers to share their insight on what you need to know about hiring one.

How is Wedding Videography Different from Photography?

“Videography gives you everything photography can't. One of the biggest, and arguably most important elements of your day, are the words spoken: vows, toasts, and first-look reactions. These pieces of your day can't be captured through photography, and I believe it's crucial for couples to consider how important capturing those words are to them. Consider that your parents or loved ones won't be here forever. Will a film of their voice speaking kind words about your marriage provide value and comfort to you in the future?” -Bonnie Newman, owner of Mars and the Moon Films (formerly Bonnie Newman Creative)

“Video allows seeing all the emotions leading up to the big moment, the sounds, the expressions, and feelings. Photography is great because it freezes a moment in time, but the video we capture the before, middle, and end of that moment so you can relive it again and again. We hear time and time again that when the couple sees the live emotions and hears ambient sounds from their wedding day, it just brings them back. This is why video is so important. Music and hearing raw emotion have so much power when it is put together perfectly!” -Will DeCosta, owner, Iyrus Weddings

“Let me start by saying that photo and video are both incredibly and equally important. They are the only things that you truly get to keep from your wedding day (besides your spouse, of course), but they both serve two different purposes. Video can take you back to exactly what was said, the toast your father gave, the emotion in your partner's voice as they read their vows, and the anxious and excited laughter after a first look. When the years pass, and as your family grows, these moments become a part of your family legacy. This part is hard to talk about, but when you unfortunately and inevitably lose loved ones, these moments matter even more. You can't hear their voice in a photo or look to it for comfort in their movements the way you can in video.” -Shannon Kelly, owner, Shannon Kelly Films

“Video is different from photography because, as a wedding videographer, we look to capture movement and raw emotions as naturally as possible. Videography requires proper lighting, setup, and breakdown that the majority of couples aren’t aware of. On a wedding day, wedding videography is literally a mini commercial production shoot with the couples as the stars.” -Bonnet Charles, owner, Priceless Studio Design

“Two words: motion and sound. A professional wedding cinematographer captures you, your family, and your friends enjoying your wedding day, complete with these two vital distinctions. It allows you to see your guests interacting with one another, responding to moments with laughter or tears. It allows you to hear those special words spoken during the ceremony or the toasts from the reception. Video can take you back to your wedding day in a way that still images can not.” -David Rennie, owner, Trinity Wedding Cinema

“Although videography is just another form of documentation for your wedding day, the impact of it is completely different. Imagine wanting a family member to watch and experience your favorite movie, but all you have are photos from it. A wedding video has a plot and story to tell through the words of both you and your loved ones. You get to hear the emotion in your voices as you read your vows together, the joke your Maid of Honor or Best Man makes in their toast, or even something as small as the cheer that follows your first kiss. It’s a completely different experience and an irreplaceable one. Your wedding video will be exciting right when you receive it, a year into being married when you’re reminiscing of the good times, years down the road when you have children to share wedding stories with, and further years when you want to cherish a loved one who is no longer with you. There’s nothing else that can provide that.” -Jennifer Reed, owner, J&S Media

Lena + Anthony | Ybor City Elopement from Mars and the Moon Films on Vimeo.

When Should I Hire My Wedding Videographer?

“Before 2020 and the pandemic, I might say six months before your wedding would be safe for some, but with the demand and volume of inquiries coming in, you should hire a videographer 12-18 months before your date, especially if you have a date in peak times or popular dates like 11.11.22. Many vendors are already fully booked for 2022 and filling up for 2023 as we speak. With the increased demand, many are also limiting the number of couples they book so that they can better serve each one. It's always ideal to book video at the same time you would be booking photo!” -Shannon Kelly, owner, Shannon Kelly Films

“The sooner, the better. The earlier in the planning process you make this vendor selection, the more likely you are to get ‘the' cinematographer you want. Most wedding cinematographers offer only one team, so once they are booked for a particular date that's it. Some cinematographers, such as ourselves, have caps, meaning we only accept a certain number of weddings. This is so we can maintain the high level of service and quality we expect from ourselves. Also, consider that certain times of year are going to have higher demand. For example, the months of March through June or September through November tend to be the most popular months in Florida, so if you are planning a wedding during this time, it's especially important to book early.” -David Rennie, owner, Trinity Wedding Cinema

“After the impact 2020 had on the wedding industry, the new norm is to book your videographer 8-14 months prior to your wedding day. More weddings are happening now more than ever, and there may be a lot of demand for your favorite videographer.” -Jennifer Reed, owner, J&S Media

We hear this question all the time. It comes down to how important it is for you and your significant other. We tell our couples to list out the most important things for their wedding. If video is high on that list, then I suggest finding someone you like early. We have been booking out 1-2 years out for video.” -Will DeCosta, owner, Iyrus Weddings

“Book between 6-8 months out, at least. Videography is becoming more and more popular, yet the number of experienced and awesome videographers out there isn't growing at the same pace. If you're looking to hire an experienced, awesome videographer, you may not be able to find one if you start looking two or three months before your wedding.” -Bonnie Newman, owner of Mars and the Moon Films (formerly Bonnie Newman Creative)

“A videographer should always be hired during the process of hiring a photographer; however, this isn't the case 95% of the time. Videographers are often an afterthought, and if the budget permits, they will add a videographer. I would encourage all couples to hire at the same time if possible and not wait.” -Bonnet Charles, owner, Priceless Studio Design

What Qualities Should I Look for in a Wedding Videographer?

“The first things that come to mind are the quality of the finished product, the story, and the audio quality. But another quality that gets overlooked is the vibe and connection with your videographer. Just like the photographer, you spend most, if not all of your wedding day with us. You should find someone who shares the same vision as you, someone who wants to tell your story. We believe that having the same vibe with our couples allows them to be themselves in the video and look as natural as possible. This will make you feel comfortable and look natural in your wedding video.” -Will DeCosta, owner, Iyrus Weddings

“When searching for a cinematographer, you want to make sure that the aesthetic of their work, their style, and their personality are a match to those same qualities you are looking for. You want someone with experience who is truly passionate about weddings and a cinematographer that continues to invest in themselves and their craft. You should look for a cinematographer who takes the time to listen to you, your wants, needs, and hopes for your wedding day.” -David Rennie, owner, Trinity Wedding Cinema

“Someone who is patient, has the ability to tell a story that fits with your vibe, and who will get to know what your personality is. Always read reviews, even read comments on their social media. Reviews and how they post on social will give you a good pulse on their personality and work ethic.” -Shannon Kelly, owner, Shannon Kelly Films

“When searching for videographers, I think it’s most important to keep an eye out for how well they tell the story of the wedding day and the overall quality of the video. The ability to tell a story is an imperative trait of a good videographer. Most couples can’t necessarily pinpoint what exactly makes them love their chosen videographer versus others because it’s the combination of many elements that results in a quality video they find appealing. To be more specific, these are some things we’d recommend keeping in mind: the flow of the story, transitions, overall mood/feel, coloring, music selection, video quality, variety of shots, the inclusion of important moments of the day, etc. Outside of their videos, just like any other wedding vendor, they should be very communicative and responsive! They should want to get to know you and your fiancé — your wedding, your style, and your personalities – because as result, your video will represent you that much more. Reviews are also an excellent way to verify that the videographers you’re interested in are well-regarded by their past couples. Reviews often share more about the videographers, their workflow, and what couples specifically enjoyed from their experience.” -Jennifer Reed, owner, J&S Media

“Qualities of a wedding videographer should be their style of work and ethics. See what others say about them, from wedding planners to venues and past clients. Also, look into their reviews; those always help.” -Bonnet Charles, owner, Priceless Studio Design

Shannon Kelly Films

How Many Hours of Wedding Day Coverage do I Need?

The answer to this question will partly be driven by the type of event you are planning. Is it an intimate wedding with 30-40 guests or a lavish affair with over 300? For smaller weddings where everything is taking place at one location, six hours of coverage may be all you need. If you are having a midsize or larger wedding or at multiple locations, then eight-plus hours will likely be needed. Maybe you are having a religious ceremony that is 45+ minutes long, in which case you may need a minimum of 10 hours. Most of our couples book packages consisting of 8-10 hours of coverage.” -David Rennie, owner, Trinity Wedding Cinema

“We are personally big fans of full-day coverage. With all great stories, there’s a beginning, a middle, and an end. This is definitely not universally true — you can have a great wedding video without the getting ready process or without the party or special exit, but many of our couples want it all. Most of the time, this means 8-10 hours of coverage.” -Jennifer Reed, owner, J&S Media

“Eight hours is a good ‘goldilocks' time frame for covering most weddings. It just depends on the wedding itself. If you're getting ready one place, having the ceremony somewhere else, and then having the reception at another location, you may need more because timelines as three location weddings tend to be a little more spread out.” -Bonnie Newman, owner of Mars and the Moon Films (formerly Bonnie Newman Creative)

“Eight hours is the average, but this is going to vary on your timeline and what's important for you to capture. A good rule of thumb is to have the same amount of coverage for video as you do for photos, this way, you don't have to double back to recreate any moments that may have been missed if you have less coverage for one vendor. At the minimum, it's good to start coverage two-and-a-half hours before the ceremony, but if you're doing a first look or have any important traditions taking place prior, you'll likely want to bump that time up. As the day goes on, you'll want the first dance, parent dances, and speeches captured But, I don't think it's crucial to stay until the end of the reception unless that is important to you or you have a fun exit planned! At a minimum, though, you should have at least one solid hour of coverage once your dance floor opens.” -Shannon Kelly, owner, Shannon Kelly Films

“Typically, we suggest at least being there in the same time frames as the photographer. But depending on how elaborate you want the video, we sometimes are there for rehearsal dinners or a few hours before the photographer even arrives.” -Will DeCosta, owner, Iyrus Weddings

How Do I Know if I'm Hiring the Right Videographer for Me?

“First and foremost, you should hire a videographer that is a good fit for you. You might have similar personalities, styles, or values. Do they listen and take the time to get to know you, your relationship, and what's important to you? Do they offer advice and recommendations? After all the work that goes into planning your wedding, you want to look back at your film and have it feel like you. A videographer should take the time to get to know what that means. Each couple is different, and each story is different. No film should be a copy and paste from the last couple; you want to feel seen and heard! Look for a videographer that listens and gets to know you.” -Shannon Kelly, owner, Shannon Kelly Films

“After you’ve vetted a few videographers that you like, schedule a call to get a feel for personality and style. If the videographer doesn't explain how they will capture the day after you have provided information on the venue, if there is a first look/touch, letter reading, etc., then you may want to look elsewhere. You’ll know if you have the right one if the videographer can take your dream wedding inspiration or vision and tell you how they plan to tell your love story.” -Bonnet Charles, owner, Priceless Studio Design

“Look for someone who meshes well with your personality. Ask to grab a coffee or drink with them before you book, stalk their Instagram and find out if they're cool people to you. It's so important to feel comfortable and relaxed around the people who will have cameras on you that day. If you watch their videos, you're in love with most of them, and your personalities mesh well together, you've probably found the one.” -Bonnie Newman, owner of Mars and the Moon Films (formerly Bonnie Newman Creative)

Jennifer Reed, owner of J&S Media adds:

“Finding quality videographers is just the first step in the process, but the most important step is finding the right videographer for you. You should determine what your style really is and see which videographers fit that. What storytelling style do you like? What color-grading style do you like? Let’s say you want a more sentimental video — are any of the videographers on your list particularly good at pulling on your heartstrings? Or if you want a more fun, upbeat video — do any of the videographers on your list have videos that really captivate you?

Another factor is the individual(s) who will be with you on your wedding day! It’s imperative to get a feel for who you are hiring and their personalities to ensure that they’re compatible with your own! Your videographer is with you through most of your wedding day — they can either be just another vendor or a friend who makes your day that much better.

Lastly, you should find a videographer that has offerings that align with what you want. Do you want a short, cinematic video? A longer, documentary-style video? Full videos of your ceremony and/or toasts? These considerations can be even more specific — if you love drone footage, do they offer that? If you want to share your video sooner rather than later, do they offer a reasonable turnaround time? It’s important to discuss these options so that you’re getting the most from your investment!”

Iyrus Weddings

What is the Average Cost of Hiring a Professional Wedding Videographer in Tampa Bay/Sarasota?

“Pricing can be all over the place. Professionals in the area are between $3,500-$9,000. Remember, we are making a mini-movie of one of the most important special days of your life. Music, audio, and video editing take hours and hours to go through to make sure we tell your love story perfectly!” -Will DeCosta, owner, Iyrus Weddings

“Expect to spend an average of $3,000-$6,000. I know that's a bit of a range, but the final cost will be dependent upon how many hours/days of coverage and what is included in your package. Certainly, stick to your budget and prioritize spending based on what is important to you, but don't forget that photo and video are the only things you get to keep after your wedding day, and they will also preserve the memory of it and all the hard work and details that went into it.” -Shannon Kelly, owner, Shannon Kelly Films

“Expect to invest anywhere between $4,000-$9,000 for a QUALITY videographer. Post-pandemic, videography is something more and more couples are placing as a priority rather than an afterthought, and many videographers are finally charging a fair value for how much work and time is involved in their craft. It's also becoming increasingly expensive to live in Tampa Bay, and that trickle-down effect is in full swing for everyone. Our average package investment is $5,200 for 9 hours coverage and includes all kinds of edited films and goodies.” -Bonnie Newman, owner of Mars and the Moon Films (formerly Bonnie Newman Creative)

“The average cost of a quality videographer is between $3,000-$7,000. This varies quite a bit simply because all videographers structure their packages and pricing differently. Some videographers whose lowest package is $6,000 could also include a full ceremony video, full toasts videos, and raw footage in that package. However, some videographers choose to have a base package (just a short film, for example) and let their couples choose their add-ons.” -Jennifer Reed, owner, J&S Media

“Just like the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.' -This could not be truer when it comes to wedding cinematography. Experienced wedding cinematographers will range in price, but most will start at $3,000 and go up from there.” -David Rennie, owner, Trinity Wedding Cinema

What Factors go into the Cost of Professional Videography?

“The amount of hours spent editing after the wedding is usually longer than what a typical photographer spends, so time editing is the biggest cost factor for videography. We also spend a lot of time once the video is edited, uploading to various sites, rendering your video, so it fits on Instagram, submitting it for publication, and adding it to our website and social media. Other factors include equipment costs (staying up to date with tech, repairs, upkeep), hiring second videographers or assistants, cost of purchasing licensed music for your video, paying business taxes, online costs like websites, email, and Quickbooks, paying full price for our own health insurance (being an entrepreneur means I have to pay for all my benefits), and so many more little things that add up. Being a full-time videographer, or any entrepreneur for that matter, is more expensive than it might seem. That's why we always tell people you really do get what you pay for. If you've found a videographer who is charging you $1,000 for 10 hours of coverage and making you a highlight film and full ceremony film, and a full documentary film, something is not right, and they most likely don't know what they're doing. At the end of the day, you're the one stuck with regret that you didn't hire a professional to capture that one day in your life that means so much.” -Bonnie Newman, owner of Mars and the Moon Films (formerly Bonnie Newman Creative)

“Hours on the wedding day, the number of shooters, and the final product all change the cost of videography. For us, we always bring out our best video and audio equipment to make sure we capture the entire day in the best quality we can! What people forget is the editing portion. Editing for us isn’t about throwing clips together. It’s about telling the story and having the music blend perfectly with the video. On average, we take about 30-40 hours of editing to complete a wedding film.” -Will DeCosta, owner, Iyrus Weddings

“A single wedding film takes a lot of gear and hours, hours of time, education, planning, and research. A single-camera body is at least $3,000, plus $1,500 or more for each lens. Add on $1,000 for a gimbal (stabilizer), plus tripods, another $1,000+ for a drone, continuing education to stay on and ahead of trends and industry-standard applications to edit in, a $4,000+ computer, paying second shooters, advertising costs, operating expenses for client management and taxes, and the list goes on. Then there's the cost of time; it's not just the hours of coverage on a wedding day that you are paying for. It is so important to get to know each couple before the wedding, what music do they like, what are their hobbies, what movies do they enjoy, how'd they meet? That time communicating with couples is crucial. Based on their personality and vision, we begin assisting with timeline coordination with planners and photographers and maybe even do some location scouting prior. Prepping gear and traveling to the wedding are a small part, but take time nonetheless. The editing process begins with sorting the footage, keeping every beautiful and sentimental moment, and syncing multiple camera angles, multiple microphones, etc. Once sorted and organized, we can begin listening to speeches, letters, vows, and every moment in between and begin shaping a story that fits the couple. Once we play around with storyboarding and have the story laid out, then the search for the perfect pieces of music begins. Many videographers subscribe to music licensing sites that cost $500-$1,000/year. Finding music can truly take hours. Once the music is in and trimmed up, there's adjusting of audio levels and color correction to be done to the footage to bring it to life even more. This is all just skimming the surface of what goes into the cost.” -Shannon Kelly, owner, Shannon Kelly Films

“Gear is one of the main factors; videographers attend weddings with more gear to be able to capture different angles during the ceremony and reception. Audio is also important, and audio equipment is expensive provided that you are using a product of quality.” -Bonnet Charles, owner, Priceless Studio Design

“We spend hours prior to your wedding ensuring that we’re ready for your day — assisting or going over your timeline with you, getting to know you so that we can tell your story that much better, or even something as small as cleaning and prepping our equipment. When investing in a quality videographer, the wedding day experience is a large part of what you’re investing in — a team that’s personable, experienced, efficient, creative, and cooperative with your other vendors. Great videographers know how to work well alongside your photographer. One of the biggest factors that most couples don’t consider is that the majority of our work happens after the wedding day — culling through footage, listening to your vows and toasts to storyboard for your video, choosing music, and all of the little things that add up like coloring, audio levels, and more. Overall, we’re not just wedding videographers, we’re editors, audio technicians, lighting technicians, drone operators and that doesn’t even count all of the roles we need to fill to maintain our business.” -Jennifer Reed, owner, J&S Media

David Rennie, owner, Trinity Wedding Cinema explains:

The single largest factor is time (labor). Leading up to the wedding day, we spend 8-10 hours prepping. This includes pre-event emails, phone calls, consultations with the client, and prepping gear. Then on the wedding day, we have two cinematographers each working 8-10 hours (not including travel time). After the wedding comes the largest amount of time, post-production. Typically we spend 40-50 hours in post-production with each wedding. So add that all up, and you are looking at roughly 70-80 hours of time per wedding. 

Another large factor is the equipment used. We have multiple cameras, various lenses, stabilizing equipment, drones, audio gear, editing computers, and on and on. The challenging part of the equipment factor is the relatively short useful life of equipment before it becomes obsolete. For example, we typically replace our cameras every 18-24 months. When you are talking about four cameras, each costing $3,000(ish), that's no small amount. 

Then, of course, there is Uncle Sam. Roughly a third of what a small business makes goes to taxes. 

Emily + Cash Wedding Sneak Peek from Priceless Studio Design on Vimeo.

What Should I Expect to Receive from My Videographer?

“Support, communication, advice, and to be seen! You want someone who is going to get to know you and craft your film to your personality. You should receive a film that tells your story and preserves the memory of the day, but also your love story as a whole! Including a full ceremony edit is also important because that is what the day is for after all! From there, you can add on full edits of speeches, dances, raw footage, etc. It's all a matter of what is most important to you!” -Shannon Kelly, owner, Shannon Kelly Films

“Our most popular package includes eight hours of coverage, a highlight film (which is always 6-8 minutes and is included in all of our packages), and the raw footage. We offer all kinds of additional video upgrades as well. Sometimes the raw footage can be a little overwhelming, and couples don't know what to do with it, so we offer what we call a ‘full documentary edit' where we edit that raw footage into a longer, more ‘traditional' wedding film that includes the full-length ceremony, first look, toasts, first dances, and other clips from throughout the day. Chat with your videographer if there are any other video requests you have. Most of us are always open to new ideas and suggestions! For example, some requests I get are for rehearsal dinner coverage, cocktail hour ‘well-wishes' videos, boudoir videos, and engagement videos.” -Bonnie Newman, owner of Mars and the Moon Films (formerly Bonnie Newman Creative)

Quotes have been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

Marry Me Tampa Bay Preferred Wedding Pros

Preferred Marry Me Tampa Bay Wedding Pros are highly respected by our local wedding community and have been personally vetted by our editor.