Guide to Hiring a Video Camera or Camcorder for a Wedding


The flowers have been arranged and the dress has been tailored. The rings are in the safe and dependable hands of the best man and all special dietary requirements have been catered for in the wedding breakfast.

The speeches are written and the photographer is already clicking away capturing a day that has more than likely had months and months of preparations leading up to it (not to mention a substantial amount of money spent on it) and one man (you) is in charge of making sure that the happy couple’s day is documented in a video to be captured for the years to come.

This quick guide has been written to make sure that your beautiful bride does not turn bridezilla when the newlyweds sit down to view your cinematic masterpiece.

After ten years in the wedding video business, I have picked up a few things that may help you when that big day comes around. We will be looking at all aspects of filming a wedding to help you get the very best results possible when shooting not to mention choosing a hire company that you can depend upon.

I have hired video camera equipment now for over three years to cover weddings of all sizes and my advice to you would always be to hire the very latest models that way you will be sure the camera is not to old and reliable so don’t let tired rental equipment or poor customer service from a video camera hire company become another problem to contend with.

Choosing Which Equipment to Hire

One would argue that the most important thing to consider when venturing out into the world of wedding videography is the equipment that you choose to use. HD is beautiful, and 4K is incredible but do you have the means to edit 4K? A crane shot of the bride walking down the aisle would look unbelievable, but does the risk of tripping the bride up when she takes her last walk as a single woman outweigh the wonderful shot you were so keen on achieving? (I would say yes, with no hint of hesitation) keeping up with the latest technology is expensive and that’s where hiring a video camera to film a wedding comes in.

Budget will, of course, determine what gear you will use on the day. My ideal package would be your main camera, a tripod and some form of camera mounted light to be used to the light the first dance (90% of the time the room will be far too dark to capture without opening up the iris and upping the gain which will result in a shallow depth of field and a grainy image that can barely be made out) all these items are contained in our shoot it yourself wedding video packages. Wireless mics are also a great addition. There is nothing worse than a bride or grooms vows being overpowered by the ever-so-cute (but massively annoying in this case) baby in the third row whose screaming / crying / coughing / spluttering. All of these distractions and the grandparent’s falling asleep and resulting snoring hasn’t even been brought into play yet. The mics would be fairly pointless if you couldn’t hear what sort of audio you are getting so a decent set of headphones are very high on my list. A second camera is preferable but not essential. My suggestion would be that the cost of hiring a second camera becomes completely insignificant as the security of knowing that, while you are finding focus or framing a shot, you have another picture being recorded elsewhere (hopefully somewhere near to you so you can control it or pick it up after the other baby in the first row has just pushed it over).

So it is definitely a case of horses for courses. My opinion would be that a nice lightweight camera would be your best option. If you are filming bride preparations in a small room and you just can’t get yourself in a position to get your shot, something like a hired Sony HXR MC2000 would be ideal which is high quality and very inexpensive to hire. The Sony MC2000s little brother the Sony MC50 works as a perfect second camera. I would tend to stick to the same manufacturer if possible as you know that the MC2000 and MC50 or the Canon XA10 or XF100 will be running a pretty similar picture, once you have white balanced the both of them. If you prefer the bulk of a shoulder mounted camera, the HXR MC2000 from Sony will work perfectly with the MC50 or MC30 (or both).

Audio equipment for weddings

The wireless mics I use are the Sennheiser lapel type. That’s not to say that any other wireless microphones are no good. I just find the Sennheisers very easy to use and produce clean and crisp audio, all our wedding packages come with a directional mic on top of the camera to give clear sound capture in the direction the video camera is pointing.

I tend to use my Sennheiser headphones as they fit my weirdly shaped head the best. I also have a sony set which equal the sound quality but do not fit my weirdly shaped head. As long as you can hear your subject, it is really down to personal preference.

Lighting for weddings

As for your light, I have always used the Manfrotto top light. Small and powerful. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier of on camera lighting. Absolutely perfect for the first dance and inevitably, the drunkard who thinks he/she is James Brown or Christina Aguilera respectively. This lights come as standard in our packages.

Tripods for weddings

If you are using two cameras, one of them, if not both, will be on a tripod at any given time. I use both Vinten and Manfrotto tripods. I find the Vinten Pro6 has the smoothest pan but it is rather bulky and moving it around can be cumbersome. The manfrotto still has smooth mechanics, but will be easier to transport around and that could be the difference between getting the shot or missing it forever. We include Manfrotto tripods for you.

Top Tips

So now you know what I would use to film a wedding, all you have to do is choose your gear and shoot away. If you are still in need of some extra hits and tips, I have put together a list of the things that I think are most important.

Determine your formats and eventual outputs as soon as you can. Will you shoot HD? If so, HDV or AVCHD, 1080 or 720p. How many frames per second? Interlaced or progressive? All of these questions need to be answered before shooting to avoid a tedious post-production.

Know your client. If you know what your client is expecting, you will have a greater knowledge of what you need to do to achieve the results.

Know your surroundings. Make an effort to get to the church where the ceremony will take place and to the venue of the reception. Ask questions. Will the choir be ok with me standing here? Who will be doing speeches and where will they be standing?

Know your kit. It seems ridiculous to outline this, but picking up a Sony camera will be different to picking up a Panasonic or a Canon or a JVC. Test everything the night before to make sure you wireless mic is talking to the receiver.

Film absolutely everything. Somebody pooring a glass of champagne or a duck waddling across the grass or a passer by waving to the bride and groom are all as much a part of the day as anything. Of course a shot of a child playing on their Nintendo DS Lite when the bride and groom are sharing their first kiss as man and wife, will probably not go down too well, but you need to distinguish yourself from the norm.

Be discreet. People will act up in front of the camera or get so shy that they feel uncomfortable. Either way, you will be much better off filming people from afar to get a more natural look. You will also get a nice shallow depth of field this way too.

Be ruthless in the edit. The whole point of filming so much is so you can truly pick the best shots. For this I mean technically and compositionally. No matter how beautiful and artistic the shots are, we don’t need 14 different angles of a tiara going on. Likewise, if your amazing shot of the groom hugging his best man is focused on the background as opposed to the subject itself, It has to be binned. It may be difficult, but perfection is your goal after all.

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