My First Wedding!
Updated: Sep 13, 2018
Shortly after uploading my Aberdeen at night video, an old school friend who I grew up with as a child, but hadn't spoken to in years, sent me a message asking if I'd be interested in filming her wedding that was a few months from then at the beautiful Maryculter House Hotel in Aberdeen. Initially, I thought "I could give this a good go" but I knew I would need to invest in a lot more equipment to be able to do it the way I would want to. After some back and forth messages with Katy, explaining that not only had I never even second shot a wedding before (supported a main videographer), and that I had only ever actually been to two weddings in my life, we agreed on somewhat low expectations but obviously my thoughts were, "this is arguably the most important day of their lives, and they've chosen me to film it, I better get this right!"
With that, all of my spare time over the next few months went in to planning and preparation for the wedding. I visited the venue 3 times, to get a look around, speak to management about their sound system and check my connections to it were sufficient, and also do some introductions to staff and be able to plan where I would station my cameras during the ceremony. Visiting the venue was hugely beneficial, as I was able to see it set up for a different wedding, and I could see how it may look for Katy's wedding. I was able to position my camera to check what focal lengths and lenses I'd be best using, and get to know my way around the building for the day itself. What made it potentially even more challenging, was that the Maryculter House Hotel can do an outdoor ceremony if the weather is sufficient. Katy's preference was for an outdoor ceremony (but actually wasn't my preference!!) but we wouldn't know until the day whether it would be indoor or outdoor. This meant I had to have two plans in place. The reason my preference was for an indoor ceremony was because it would prevent the need for me to transport all of my equipment inside to where the speeches would take place. Being on my own, this may have delayed me and meant I miss an important part of the day. The wedding was also a relatively large ceremony (again not making things any easier for me!!) and if it were to be outside, the space was going to be very limited.
Next up in my planning was to do a pre-recording of the vows from the couple. I did this to provide me a source of back up audio in case the recording of the audio on the day went wrong. This wedding was also even more challenging because Katy's fiancé was Barbara - two brides! This meant I couldn't put a lavalier microphone on either bride, so my hope was to put two on the officiant, and boost the audio enough to hear what Katy and Barbara said during the ceremony. After recording the vows, my next step was to contact the officiant and ask if she would be happy with being mic'd up (this was a polite ask - the reality was she would be wearing one whether she liked it or not!! Ha ha!). Karen - the officiant - was happy to oblige!
Eventually we reached the end of the teaching term and the summer holidays had arrived! Usually joy!! But with the wedding two weeks away, it suddenly got real...All I could think was "please hurry up and arrive, get through it and please don't let anything mess up." This wasn't actually for my sake, I genuinely don't know what I would do if something messed up and I needed to explain this to the couple. The first two weeks of the holidays were a complete blur, and then it was the night before the wedding.
Somewhat strangely, I felt really relaxed, confident and sure of how things were going to go. I would put that down to my planning I had put in. However, that didn't stop me getting next to no sleep the night before the wedding! In the morning...COFFEE COFFEE and more COFFEE!! Once awake, off I went to Newtonhill for Katy's preparation. With one bride preparing in Newtonhill, and the other in Westhill, both at the same time, I couldn't be at either location for too long as I wanted to get to the venue at least an hour ahead of both brides to get set up and film some establishing shots. It was raining, so an indoor ceremony was confirmed and while disappointed for the brides, from a selfish point of view this was going to make things easier for me. With it being my first wedding, I was happy with this! Everything up until the ceremony was easy, no stress, and nothing major to worry about. Karen arrived about 15 minutes before either bride, so I got her microphones attached, and was all set! My plan from here was to get each bride arriving, and each bride walking down the aisle. In my meetings with the staff, I had been told Katy would walk down the aisle first, and position herself to the right. So I had my first static camera set up to the left, to be able to get a tight shot on Katy once she had walked down the aisle and stopped. My plan was to peel off having tracked Katy down the aisle, then set my static camera to record once she was stopped and in position. Katy walked down first and stood on the opposite site to what I'd planned for!! I quickly decided I would just use this static camera for Barbara, and once Barbara was down the aisle, got that camera rolling and focussed as quickly as I could. The next challenge was to get up to the back of the room and get my third camera rolling (my "safe" camera angle). After this was done, it was back to the front to have the gimbal camera on Katy, get some shots of the guests, and hope nothing messed up!! Filming the ceremony was without doubt the most terrifying part of the day! Frustratingly, there were a lot of young children at the wedding and quite a lot of them decided to scream and cry very loudly throughout the ceremony!! I was worried that this would have completely ruined the audio from Karen's microphones, and while I didn't deem the audio clean enough to use in the highlights video, it was not completely disastrous and was useable for the full film. At least this was something that was not in my control so while it was frustrating I knew there was nothing I could do about it so I didn't let it affect me. I got 3 good and very useable angles on the first kiss, which was great, but made it difficult to decide which to use as none were perfect, but all were good. A funny part of the ceremony that shows my lack of experience in weddings was me saying to Karen "Will I grab those microphones from you now?" and she replied, "Why? We've still a lot more to go!" There was me thinking it was done when they went over to sign the documentation! With no further hiccups, I followed the happy couple down the aisle and the ceremony was over - and a massive sigh of relief from me!
The photo shoot followed next, and the rain had stopped so we managed to get outside and this was perfect as it meant I could get some scenic shots from outside with the beautiful views over the river dee. This part was really simple for me as I basically just went with what the photographer was directing and got my candid shots accordingly. The next stressful part for me was getting the speeches recorded. For this, I plugged my zoom H4n pro into the sound system at the hotel, and prayed it was going to work! I had been in and tested the system out with the microphone previously, so was confident it would work. If it hadn't, I wouldn't have been in great shape as I didn't have a very good back up option - a zoom H1 sitting near the speaker wouldn't have been great audio. Fortunately the audio recorded brilliantly from the zoom H4n pro, so I didn't need to worry about the backup.
Nearly there, and next up was some much needed food! Having not eaten since about 8:30am I was starving (about 5pm now). As I was a later addition to Katy's wedding package, I wasn't on the original documentation to get a meal, so there was a bit of a delay in getting me any food - and anyone who knows me knows I like my food, so you wouldn't have wanted to speak to me at this point!! After dinner, the last important part for me to get was the cake cutting and first dance. I had been given an approximate time of 8:10pm, so I was set up by about 7:45pm, with two static cameras and my gimbal. I had one camera initially set near the dance floor for one angle, but lots of kids started dancing around it, and wouldn't stop. I could see a disaster coming so eventually removed that camera and decided to only use two angles, one wide from the back of the room and one from my gimbal, with a tighter shot. The cake cut eventually arrived around 8:30pm! This was fine, and then it was straight into the first dance. I knew people would be getting up to join Katy and Barbara at some point, so I focussed on the couple for as long as I could, and when I lost them through other people, I thought "well I've done the best I can here" but then just decided on the spot to randomly film other people who were up dancing. This allowed my to put together a fairly cinematic edit of their first dance, a video I'm really please with which I'll link at the end of this blog.
After the first dance, all that remained for me to get was some footage of people dancing. This was basically now just like being at a party for me as there was nothing essential to get, and I could really relax and enjoy the rest of the night! As I'd never filmed a wedding before, I figured I would just stay right up until the end, get some shots from Loch Lomond and get as much possible options for the edit. I ended up having a great time in the reception, getting into the thick of it on the dance floor where I feel at home! Ha! Barbara's niece and bridesmaid Caitlyn was a great laugh and made me feel really welcome, so when she threw in one of those "loreal" hair flicks and my camera was randomly filming right above her head when she did it (complete luck!) I burst out laughing and started screaming, "YAAAAAS!!! That's definitely going in!!" Caitlyn was too drunk at this point to understand what I was trying to explain had just happened!! When the night finished at 1am, I said my congratulations and goodbyes, and home I went, immediately backing up all of my footage onto the hard drive before getting to bed. 168GB of footage to look through, and here is what I managed to create for Katy and Barbara:
First Dance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0_Kig9ifJc&t=205s
Full Film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TU7aPJKk53c
Next up was a wedding for a friend, former colleague and mother of a current pupil of mine!