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A guide to a Smooth Wedding or Elopement Day from a Seasoned Wedding Videographer

July 28, 2023

Your wedding day is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and what better way to preserve those precious memories than with a personalized wedding video that beautifully narrates your love story? I take pride in not just capturing the moments but also being there as an experienced wedding vendor and a friend to make your day truly special. I am passionate about crafting personalized wedding videos that reflect the uniqueness of each couple I work with. From the excitement of getting ready to the heartfelt vows and the joyful celebration, I am there to document every moment with care and precision.

Beyond being a vendor, I value the bond that forms with the couples I work with. It’s an honor to be a part of your love story, and I strive to create a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere so that your true emotions shine through in the video. Utah’s awe-inspiring outdoor settings provide the perfect backdrop for both intimate elopements and grand celebrations at venues. Whether it’s exchanging vows with the breathtaking red rocks as your witness or saying “I do” amidst the lush greenery of a picturesque garden, Utah offers a diverse range of stunning locations.

Now, for the majority of my couples this is probably the first time you are planning a wedding or attending the wedding as the main attraction or ‘bride or groom.’ Meaning you are kind just going in this blindly! Here is a guide from a seasoned wedding vendor for planning a smooth day. I have been to so many weddings over the years and here is my guide for both a luxury wedding day or intimate elopement. (Scroll down to read my advice about an elopement day!)

A Guide to a Smooth Wedding Day

  1. Communication is everything. This includes your family, wedding party, vendors and venue. Having a schedule set in place for everyone to follow will help tremendously. The last thing you want on your wedding day is to get asked by 100 people (who should know what’s going on) what they need to be doing and where they need to be at what time. I recommend putting a PDF file together using google drive with the timeline of the day and the time for different family members to arrive with addresses. If bridesmaids or groomsmen have certain tasks, put this in the timeline! (I once went to a wedding where the bridesmaids didn’t pick up a bunch of decor after their intimate ceremony, leaving this task for the couple. They were over an hour late to the reception and missed dinner.) If you have a wedding planner, they will probably do this for you. Your vendors should know what is going on, but communicating with them is just as important. Having a timeline for them to go off of is greatly appreciated as well. For all your other guests attending – I recommend having a detailed wedding website with a Q&A. This Q&A should include what to wear, when to arrive, where to stay if traveling, when to RSVP by, and anything else you think guests need to know about your wedding day. Assume everyone knows nothing — because they will act like it. And when someone texts you a week before your wedding asking silly questions – just send them a link to your wedding website which will have the answer. Another awesome trick is to have a QR code included with your wedding invitations that will lead to the wedding website.
  2. Getting ready on your wedding day. This will always take longer than you think. If your hair and makeup artist say they need 2 hours, assume it will take 2.5-3 hours. Every single wedding that has ran behind in my personal experience has been because of 1. weather, 2. HMUA takes longer than expected. (Which they just want you to be beautiful! However, plan for the extra time. It is better to not rush.) Us photo + video peeps usually arrive at this time. We want to get the end of getting ready, get a few details, and anything between hair & makeup to zipping up in your dress. You also want to build enough time to actually get dressed which will take about 10-15 minutes. If you want pictures or footage with bridesmaids in robes with shots or champagne, plan for it. If you want a first look with your dad, your bridesmaids, your dog, or whoever – plan for it! Your photographer, wedding planner, or videographer can help you with a timeline if you are feeling lost! Hire awesome vendors and put them to use!
  3. First looks. Not everyone wants a first look before walking down the aisle – which is totally fine! It is your day and you should do it exactly how you envision it. However, if you do want a first look I personally do recommend it. It gives you a moments before the craziness to have an intimate moment with your spouse-to-be. Some couple’s even choose to share private vows during this time. Plan for about 20-30 minutes for this depending on if you want to include anything else besides just the actual first look! It can also give you some flexibly in your timeline and allow you to do some family photos or bridal party photos before the ceremony.
  4. Family + wedding party photos. Your family photo list should be compiled and sent to your photographer. Just know that every combination adds about 1-2 minute of time, especially if they are bigger groups. If you want to spend an hour doing family photos – that is up to you. However I don’t think that is the best way to spend your time on your greatest day. Having 1-2 large groups followed by smaller intimate quick groups is best. We understand that getting these groups shots is important however, we recommend trying to keep it within 20-ish minutes. Your photographer and videographer will know what to do with bridal party shots. But if there is something you really want, definitely communicate it! The best way to get what you want is to ask for it! 🙂
  5. The ceremony! This is your time to shine! If there is anything unique about you two as a couple, I recommend having it included in your ceremony. It can be quick or longer – but I do recommend communicating it with your officiant on how long you want there ceremony to be. I have been to ceremonies that dragged on while the couples uncle talked about himself for 20 minutes, and I have been to ceremonies that were 1 minute long and barely had enough time for the photo/video peeps to get enough shots. I recommend a happy medium of 10-20 minutes long. BUT this is ultimately for you to decide. As far as your officiant goes, I encourage my couples to have someone special to them officiate the ceremony. Basically anyone can get ordained on the internet and conduct a ceremony. If you don’t want that, you can certainly hire awesome wedding officiants who will do a great job. It really depends on how you want the vibe of your ceremony to be.
  6. Vows! Ugh – this is everyone’s favorite part of the ceremony. Where we hear from the bride and groom while they confess love and promises to each other. The only recommendations I have for the vows is to be yourself, be vulnerable, and communicate the length. It is ok to have one be longer than the other and is very common. However, if one person’s is 20 seconds long and the other is 5 minutes – that is noticeably different.
  7. Bridal portraits and golden hour sunset shots. You will absolutely want photos and videos of you on your wedding day! The best time of day is to do it while the sun is setting and the light is soft. Communicate with your photo and video people when and how long you want to spend on portraits. I recommend at least 20 minutes but if the photo/video peeps had it their way every time it would probably be longer. If you really don’t want to be taking pictures all day at your wedding, I highly recommend planning a bridal shoot sometime before or after your wedding day. And please include the videographer! The worst thing is having a bridal session with the photographer and the videographer has no footage of just you two to use in the film. (Yes this has happened to me, and the film had maybe 1 or 2 shots of just the couple.)
  8. Reception, speeches and the party! Make it your own! This celebration is about you two. If you want to have a big party, do it! If you want it to be more of a chill vibe, do that instead! Although, if you do want a big party having an awesome, highly-rated DJ is absolutely the way to go. As for speeches, I recommend keeping the speech list on your wedding day to less than 3-4 people and give them a timeframe of no more than 3-5 minutes each. If 5 people give a 10-15 minute speech each, you and your guests will be listening to people talk for an hour plus. Ultimately, this is your decision and if you want lots of speeches, do it! This is just my recommendation based on what I have seen at other events. If a lot of your loved ones want to give a toast or speech, I recommend having some people speak the night before at the rehearsal dinner. That way you can break up the time people are talking and giving speeches.
  9. Grand exit. You do not have the have one if you do not want one. Some couples just want to party the night away. Although if everyone has to be out of the venue at a certain time, this is a good way to let the event end naturally. It is also a good way to end the night and the story of your wedding day. Here are a few ideas: sparklers, firework show, bubbles, glow sticks, riding off in a fancy car, limo, boat, or carriage, or even something simple like a ‘last dance’ announced from your DJ.

I hope all this information is useful. I have many wedding seasons under my belt and I want to assist in any way I can to give advise for a smoother wedding day. Hire great vendors with lots of experience, and trust they have your best interest at heart.

A Guide to a Smooth Elopement Day

  1. Remember why you chose to have an elopement in the first place. When you announce you are opting out of the big wedding, someone will have an opinion who shouldn’t. Hold your ground and remember this is what you chose and why you chose it. There are many reasons a couple could have chosen to do an intimate elopement from saving money, an epic location, wanting something easy, or just simply wanting to elope. Remember your reasons. Hold you ground.
  2. If you have guests attending, communicate with them. If you are eloping just you two then it will be super simple. If you are having guests attend – communicate the time, location, and what they are invited to attend. If you do not ant to invite anyone, you do not have to.
  3. Hire an awesome elopement photographer and videographer. This will make your elopement. People who are experienced in intimate weddings know there are different steps and expectations to this day. As an elopement videographer myself, we help every couple with location scouting, vendor referrals, and planning a timeline that fits for your day. On your elopement day we will help with making the day go smoothly and create beautiful documentations.
  4. Include other vendors if wanted. Many couples who choose to elope still have other vendors outside of a photographer and videographer. This can include a cake to cute, a bouquet for yourself from a florist, an officiant, a hair and makeup artist, or even a musician. If you want other vendors, go for it! This is still your wedding day even if you are keeping it more simple. I have seen awesome vendors hired on elopement days that made it that much more special.
  5. Getting ready and first look. If you want getting ready pictures and video on your elopement day, it is highly encouraged. We will take 30-45 minutes to capture lovely details, getting dressed, and small moments before you two say your vows. If you hire a hair and makeup artist, we will come towards the end of them finishing up! Make sure you communicate with your HMUA when your photo / video peeps are arriving and when you need to be finished by.
  6. A unique ceremony and vows. The ceremony can be as grand or as simple as you imagined. I have been to elopements and intimate weddings where the couple only stated their vows and exchanged rings. I have also been to elopement ceremonies where they hired an officiant or had a close loved one conduct a full ceremony for only the trees to witness. I have been to ceremonies where a couple will have a few loved ones read a poem and then the couple will exchange rings with only a few invited guests around. I have been to a ceremony where a couple made a cup of coffee using a french press during their ceremony because ‘that’s what is special to them.’ I have been to ceremonies where the couple read vows privately to each other and then had a small ceremony with a few guests to witness it. It really is yours. Make it your own. Read long love letters to each other – or don’t.
  7. Portraits and bridals. After a ceremony and vow exchange, your photo and video peeps will take you to beautiful locations and get stunning photos and videos of you. Trust they know the best spots and lighting. The best time of day to get the portraits done is while the sun is setting.
  8. The day is yours! Do something epic or keep it simple. If you want to do something unique on your day, it is highly encouraged. I have witness couples get tattoos, go on a helicopter ride, do a hike, cut a cake, share a glass of champagne, go on a hot-air balloon ride, explore a national or state park, and even pull their own glass of Guinness in Ireland at an Irish pub. Adding a touch of uniqueness to the day will make it that much more rememberable and special. If you really just want to get married in the middle of no where, invite no one, and keep it simple – then do just that.
  9. Why video is so important for an elopement. Sometimes couples who chose to elope think because their day is more ‘simple’, they don’t need a videographer. This is still your wedding day. This is still the day you promise yourself to your spouse – the day you share vows in a gorgeous outdoor setting surrounded by mountains, beaches, a cliffside, or the trees and wildflowers. Documentation for this day is soo important! Not only for yourself to always look back on, but a video is a good way to include those who were not there on your elopement day. I always get told by my elopement couples that their video is so priceless. Do not skip on a videographer.

I hope these elopement tips were helpful!


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