A match made on DVD
When wedding day stress made it hard to smile for pictures, Rachel Orzoff began singing the Partridge Family theme song "as a joke." She beamed, the photographer snapped away--and the videographer got it all. "This is the silly stuff I get to show my [future] kids," says Orzoff, a Minnesota educator. The scene appears on her wedding DVD. With chapters like "first dance," the two disks include wedding scenes set to, yes, the Partridge Family theme, a montage of childhood pix, and a crisply edited 45-minute film of the big day.
Tell Uncle Bob to leave his camcorder home. Aided by the latest editing and production software and the flexibility of the DVD format, videographers are turning the much-maligned wedding video into a professional-grade film even your friends will want to watch. The quality is "miles beyond what it was just five years ago," says Carley Roney, editor-in-chief of the Knot, a wedding-guide publishing empire. So is the price. In 1988, fledgling videographer Kris Malandruccolo of Chicago ( elegantvideosbykris.com ) charged $350 for a wedding. "It was pretty much point and shoot in VHS and here you are," she says. Today, she shoots digital video, uses two cameras, and spends over 40 hours editing. The Orzoffs paid her $4,000.
Videographers have become less invasive and more artistic than their forefathers. A wireless mike slipped into the groom's breast pocket records the vows. Light-sensitive cameras have replaced those with glaring headlights. And videographers can zoom in on the action without being part of it: Justin Parker ( new-jersey-wedding.com ) filmed from across the street as groom Ross Sussmann entered the church in Newark, N.J. "We didn't even know he was there," says Sussmann, a Harvard medical student. Parker's stylish work "helped us feel like it really is our Hollywood movie." The video even includes black-and-white cinematography.
But nothing is more Hollywood than what the industry calls the "love story." Like a personal VH1 Behind the Music, the love story mixes an interview with the couple, old home videos, photos, and even some choreographed footage. "The Love Story of Kathryn and Chace Beddingfield" of Flint, Texas, includes the tale of their first kiss (at his college graduation party)--and a scene in which Chace spins around while Kathryn suddenly appears in his outspread arms. Some of the staged interludes felt "unnatural," she says. But, "it's priceless because we can never go back to before we were married and talk about the future."
With great technology comes great temptation to overdo it. Yifat Oren, wedding planner for such stars as Kevin Costner and Mariska Hargitay, advises against a load of special effects, "sappy ballad" soundtracks, and graphics and titles (too cutesy and cluttered).
On the horizon are high-definition video cameras, which will lead to a "cataclysmic change," says Roy Chapman, president of the Wedding & Event Videographers Association. Videographers will be able to pull high-quality stills from videos and manipulate them digitally. And the vivid, almost 3-D picture will make your wedding something "cinematic," Chapman says.
In that case, you might want a videographer who does makeup. And voice lessons from the Partridge Family.
This story appears in the February 28, 2005 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.