Recently, we had a bride contact us here at MPD Video Productions regarding using our wedding videography services for her wedding in eastern Massachusetts (1 month away from her wedding date!), and this was not a first for us. We learned that the company she had already contracted was out of business, and she was searching for a wedding videographer at the last minute -- again, not a first for us. Not only did this poor bride have to scramble to find a reputable video company that was still available, but she also lost all the money she had already paid to the previous videographer. We were thankfully available on her date, and will film her wedding. During our conversation with the bride, we learned the name of the company that was originally contracted to film her wedding, so we looked them up online. As we suspected, the company appeared to be a "wedding factory" and had lots of bad reviews. So, what is a "wedding factory" and what red flags does it present for you? Here's what we mean:
1.) They film 50+ weddings a year. This is a RED FLAG. Know that, in general, it takes around 80 to 100 hours to properly edit a wedding into a documentary video and a highlights film, and this will hold true of most reputable video production companies (that is, unless the company provides a single videographer with 1 camera, and this will mean a strong likelihood of missing lots of key moments of your day!). We do not recommend a 1 camera wedding shoot, but you can read more about that topic in our earlier blog entitled Memo to Couples about to be Wed … Understanding Wedding Videography 101.
So here's the math to consider: 50 weddings per year x 100 hours per wedding edit = 5,000 hours. If you work every day of the year, 7 days a week, for 10 hours a day, that is only 3,640 hours available. Based on time alone, whomever you are speaking with in a "wedding factory" like this is most likely not filming or editing your wedding themselves. Instead, the company is probably subcontracting out one of the most important days of your life to someone else, perhaps anyone they can find on the date. Believe us, we've seen this practice way too many times in the industry. Buyer beware!
2.) They subcontract either filming, editing, or both. This too may be a RED FLAG. Keep in mind that subcontracting may or may not be a bad thing, depending on how it's done. But, in order to determine whether the subcontractors for your wedding are legit, you need to speak with the people who will actually be filming and editing your wedding. You need to see samples of their specific work, you need to read reviews about those specific people, and you need to have it written into the contract that those people will be handling your wedding day, in order to better understand what you'll be getting on the day of your wedding.
3.) They are located in cities all over the country. This is a BIG RED FLAG. This means that the video company subcontracts throughout the United States. Many of these organizations will hire any "Tom, Dick, or Harriet". They do not necessarily care about you; they care about making money. They are definitely subcontracting their work, and you are taking a big risk by hiring them! Again, as the consumer, make sure to speak with the actual people who are doing the work to know what you are buying. Check out this article about a "wedding factory" who was scamming customers in several states in this exact way: AG targets wedding videographer accused of scam.
4.) They can do the job for $800 to $1200. Pricing this low is a HUGE RED FLAG. That is, unless you don't care what you are receiving for a final product. I can assure you that this kind of video is provided using one videographer, likely one camera, and very little to no editing. This is a huge risk for a day as important as your wedding day! Again, you need to investigate more and ask a lot of questions. Refer to our previous blog for more info on this topic: Memo to Couples about to be Wed … Understanding Wedding Videography 101, and feel free to contact us to find out the right questions to ask.
5.) They provide raw footage. RED FLAG. This certainly cuts down on editing time and editing costs, allowing the company to film more weddings per year. Lately we are seeing more and more video companies that only provide a "highlight reel" of your wedding day (or a "highlight reel" + "raw footage"). The highlight reel may be 5 minutes or 30 minutes, depending on that company's definition of a "highlight reel". However, they do not provide a documentary video of your day. A documentary video is typically a 1 to 2 hour final product, and takes many, many hours to edit and produce. Thus, the easier thing for these companies to offer you is a highlight reel + raw footage. Many of them will try to convince you that this is all that you need, but I can assure you that you will want to see so much more of your day once it flies by! And what can you do with raw footage? Unless you're a video editor, and you have a powerful editing workstation with software capable of ingesting the raw footage, you can't do much with it. But, you can pay someone to edit your raw footage...for hundreds or thousands of dollars! Gotcha! This is how these companies "hook" you -- you get a low price upfront, only to realize later that to get what you really want for a final product, it will cost much, much more!
Bottom line, major RED FLAGS to be aware of when hiring a wedding videography company are:
1.) Filming 50+ weddings per year.
2.) Your videographer(s) and/or video editor(s) is/are subcontracted.
3.) The company films weddings all over the country (this refers back to #2, directly above).
4.) The company can film your wedding for $800 - $1200. You'll get what you pay for, and it won't be much!
5.) You get the raw footage. Make sure you understand what this means, and know what else you are getting as part of the final product (if anything)!
Be aware of these red flags during your wedding videography search, do your research, ask questions, and no matter what you agree to, get it in writing to protect yourself! PLEASE contact MPD Video with any other questions you may have regarding wedding videography services. Call us at 508-266-0054 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.