This is a subject I wrote about years ago on my old website (probably 20 website designs ago). It is the question of tipping for the service you are getting at your wedding or not. In CT and other states. the venue includes the tip with the price of the reception. Usually 18%, and something that is non-negotiable. But what about the DJ, Florist, Photographer and Videographer? Well, that is up to you, but I would like to share my thoughts.
When I first started working in weddings about 10 years ago, I didn't even think about getting a tip until the first time it happened. And then I thought, well that's cool, maybe that will happen all the time. And then it didn't. And for a while I was upset about it. I found that tipping the vendors was not something that happened all the time, and I was ok with that. In fact, I am very much ok with that. You as the client are already spending a lot on the wedding, and then you are tipping me for a job that in truth, I have yet to complete. In truth, you don't even know if I hit the record button all night, or if I was just standing there (don't worry, I did have the record button pressed and I wasn't just standing there... the whole time).
Recently I worked a wedding where all the sudden I was disgusted by the idea of getting a tip. Not because I didn't want one (let's be honest, we will all take money if someone hands it to us), but because the photographer that was working the same wedding with me was obsessed with the idea of it and how he was convinced we were not getting a tip. And he seemed really upset about it. Meanwhile I am thinking "Dude, the point isn't to show up and get a tip, the point is to do our job and get paid!" Did we get tips that night, I actually don't remember, not do I remember the name of the photographer. It was the only time I had ever worked with him.
Should you tip? That is the big question. The answer is it is up to you. I know in some families, tipping is part of the culture and that is just what you do. I know in other cases you either have never heard of tipping the vendors or maybe you paid for the wedding yourself you are tapped out. My belief is that the best tip you can give me is a good referral. Tell your friends and family what a great job I did. Write a nice review for me. To me, those are better than any tip. And that's my tip to you.
Presenting myself in professional attire while still remaining functional as a videographer has always presented a challenge to me over the years. How formal do I want to be? or how casual? In my early years I wore a suit for some weddings. I quickly learned that you cannot wear a suit and shoot video. As a videographer, you need to move easily without the a suit jacket holding you back. Now if a suit is too formal, how far do you go in the other direction. I once worked with a husband and wife photography team that wore sandals. I am sorry, but that is too casual.
After ditching the suit, I decided to wear what anyone who works in production wears when they don't want to be seen, black. Black shirt, black pants, black shoes, that classic outfit for a videographer. All black is good, but one of the most important parts are the shoes. I've gone through different dress shoes over the years but then reality sets in. First of all, dress shoes are expensive. Secondly, it doesn't take long for your feet to hurt, and when you have to stand for eight to ten hours, foot comfort is important. That is why last year I made the switch to sneakers. Now in the past, I was actually asked by the father of the bride what I was going to wear on my feet. If you have that same thought, think about this. When you watch the video later on, and see the quality of the work, does what we wear on our feet as vendors really matter?
Pants have always been a hard find for me when it comes to comfort, style longevity. Black dockers tend to fade after a couple of washes. I switch to grey pants for a time because they were better, and didn't fade. But then I was in the store the other day and I found the perfect answer. Why I hadn't thought of this sooner, I don't know. Golf pants! Black golf pants that are light weight, made with that dry-fit martial. I wore them along with my new black golf shirt to a wedding yesterday and that clothing kept me cool and dry.
If you are a bride reading this post, this is a little bit of the behind the scenes. If you are another vendor reading this post, I am telling you, go and buy some golf pants, you won't regret it.
I would like to share a little tale of how I started working for a nation wide company, why I wanted to, why I am leaving and why I think you should avoid them as a bride. Because I still have contracts left to fulfill with them and because I would like to remain on good terms, I am not going to mention the company by name.
Starting out in the wedding video business is tough. It takes several years to really get to a point where you have constant work coming in. It took me 8 years to get to a point where I was able to leave my full time job and concentrate on my own business. This was one of the main reasons I wanted to join a bigger company to work as a contractor for them. I first tried to join a couple of years ago, but the manager wanted me to meet him for an interview the next in NYC. I had a full time job at this point and was not going to call out to meet someone for an interview that we could do over the phone for a start. After a while, the e-mail communication with the person fell off and I no longer pursued it. As the time for when I was going full time with business approached, I figured it would be a good addition to be part of a company like this to help fill up my calendar. It was at this point, about a year and a half ago, that I reached out to the company again.
This time we had an interview over the phone after I filled out an online application. Once I was in, all I had to do was set a couple of things up, create a profile and wait for some bookings. The company handles all of the advertising, and the paperwork, and so on. From my end, I just had to make sure my availability calendar was up to date. I would get a contract in my e-mail. If I was available on that date, I would sign and that was it. A week before the wedding would be the first time I ever talked to the bride. I would give a ring to confirm the details and that was it. Day of the wedding I show up, I do my job with one camera, and record to the companies standards, and then I'm done. I send the video to the company and someone else does the editing, and I hardly ever see the final product. In fact, only one time did I see any edited video.
As my time working with them continued, there were several things that I started to not enjoy about the company. First of all, the territory that I was in was huge. I live in Southern CT, and one of my first jobs was in Maine. I had to ask for extra pay to cover gas and a hotel for the night. It was nice that they compensated me for that, but the communication with my manager was always a problem. I would have to e-mail him three times before getting a response. And then his responses were written as though we were close friends sending texts. All of that I could over look, but what really caused me to leave this relationship was that I was loosing dates to the company that I could have booked my own event on. Prime days in the middle on June and July. You may say, well you are still working. Yes, but I have to work four jobs for this company to equal one job for myself. Having a wife and a new baby at home, I would prefer to work less days for the same amount of money so I can see my family.
These are the reasons why I have decided to leave, but why would I recommend against using a company like this? First, I will go back to where I said I only to talk to the bride the week before the wedding. This is the most important day of your life, do you really want to only meet the person who will be capturing it a couple of days before? Now there are some great people that do work for this company that I have worked with. People who are talented and passionate. And then there are those that aren't. When you book, you are making your entire decision based off a very small video sample and what they wrote about themselves in their profile.
The whole process is very disjointed. One person handles your booking, then the vendor manager makes sure the talent signs their contracts. After that, vendors come and record and take photos, and the media we captured gets handed off to someone else to edit. I know for some people that isn't a big deal, but to me I like to know the person behind the camera will also be editing because from my point of view, when I am editing I know what kind of shots I will use later. To me, that makes a better video.
Now of course, I would prefer anyone reading this to use myself for their videographer. But regardless if it's me or not, I think it is very important to meet with your vendors. These are the people who will make your break the memory of your wedding day for you. What I call a classic style wedding video might be different from what another vendor calls it. When you have a large nationwide company, there is not way every videographer, photographer or DJ in the company is going to have the same style. I courage you to seek out the smaller companies, the ones who only do one wedding a weekend. Get the direct phone number or e-mail of your vendor so when you have a question, you can get an answer. Having a good relationship with your vendor will equal an awesome experience at your wedding and a great video/photo album to show for it.