The stakes are high for videographers who need to capture all of the most important moments before, during, and after a wedding. Since these moments only happen once, you need to be able to trust that the person (or people) on the other end of the camera really knows what they’re doing.
However, being at the right place at the right time all the time is easier said than done — no matter how many years of experience or technical expertise a videographer has.
To make sure that everything goes smoothly on the day of a shoot, most videographers will create a shot list in the weeks or months leading up to the wedding.
While no two shot lists are exactly the same, this type of pre-production document is extremely important — especially because re-takes and re-shoots are rarely, if ever, possible.
In this guide, we’ll share everything you need to know about wedding videography shot lists so that you can have a better understanding of the process from the videographer’s perspective. That way, you’ll also know how to give more creative input about certain shots you want.
A shot list is a document that videographers, photographers, and filmmakers create when planning for an upcoming shoot. It outlines every important camera shot, angle, and visual detail that should be captured when production starts.
To give you more visual context, here’s what a typical shot list template for a film or video project looks like:
As you can see, the shot list covers details like the time of day (D/N), the shot number, the gear used, and any other important notes.
For wedding videographers, this document looks more or less the same — the main difference is that scene numbers are replaced by categories like “Rehearsal dinner,” “Ceremony,” and “Reception.”
A shot list is what wedding videographers rely on to make sure that they 1) stay on schedule during the shoot and 2) don’t forget to capture any critical shots.
The shot-by-shot breakdown takes the guesswork out of the filming process, which makes the videographer’s job easier when working with wedding clients.
So, with all that said, here are four key things that anyone planning a wedding and working with videographers should know about wedding videography shot lists.
Videographers know what they’re doing, but every wedding client they work with is different. In order for your videographer to do their best work, they need to have a clear understanding of what you and your partner are looking for.
What type of ceremony are you planning (i.e., civil, religious, cultural, non-denominational, etc.)? Will there be any unique traditions or events? Will the filming take place in multiple venues, or just one?
These are the types of questions you can elaborate on during an in-person or virtual consultation with a wedding videographer.
The more information that you give your videographer, the better equipped they are to curate their shot list to your specific needs and schedule.
There are certain shots that most videographers and clients consider essential in a wedding videography shot list. This typically includes footage of the processional, vow exchange, recessional, first dance, etc.
While your videographer could build a generalized shot list that only includes these signature moments, this type of shot list doesn’t account for your special family traditions, cultural practices, and personal preferences.
Do you want to make sure the videographer captures candid moments of specific family members? Do you have a unique plan for the first look between you and your partner? These are things that your videographer won’t know unless you tell them.
Fortunately, the great thing about shot lists is that they are fully customizable. Once you start working with a videographer, develop an open dialogue and let them know what you consider top-priority footage.
By doing this, the videographer can then create a more personalized wedding video package for you.
No matter how well prepared a videographer is to capture the right footage, they could still run into major logistical problems if they don’t consider the lighting at a venue ahead of time.
That’s why — in addition to camera shots and angles — videographers make notes about lighting when creating a shot list.
Let’s say that your ceremony is set to take place in an indoor space with large windows. When filming in this type of setting, videographers deal with mixed color temperatures (i.e., warm tungsten lighting and cool outdoor lighting).
If they don’t know how to neutralize the lighting (i.e., adjust the white balance setting on their camera and/or use extra gear like color gels), the footage could have a blue or orange tint — which is the last thing you want for footage of a white wedding dress.
The good news is that your videographer knows how to adapt to different types of lighting issues. As long as you give them as much information about your venues as possible, they can take it from there.
A videographer can only include shots in their shot list that they have the camera equipment to capture.
For instance, you might really want your videographer to capture an aerial shot of your wedding venue, but if they don’t have access to a drone or a drone pilot license, this type of shot just isn’t doable.
In this case, they’ll look for alternative ways to use the gear they do have to showcase your venue in a great way. And they’ll adjust the shot list to incorporate those alternatives.
Whether your wedding videographer will be by your side for a few hours or several days, finding and hiring the right person isn’t a process you take lightly.
You want your wedding video to memorialize all of the most unique and special moments of your big day, especially since those moments only occur once.
Hopefully, this guide gave you some more insight about the work that goes on behind the scenes of a wedding shoot and, specifically, the importance of thorough wedding videography shot lists.
Mackenzie is a copywriter at Soundstripe, a stock music company that provides filmmakers, creators and advertisers with royalty free music such as sports background music and country music (and many more genres).