Churches are not ideal filming locations for wedding videography.  Despite often being spectacular, the light is usually poor and there are few, if any, good spots to film the ceremony from at the front.  To make matters worse, the wedding videographer is not always welcomed enthusiastically, and often restricted.

So, as an experienced wedding videographer, here are my 5 tips for solo wedding videography in churches

1. Make friends with the vicar/priest

While I have often found the vicar or priest to be accommodating to wedding videographers, sometimes you will be treated as an inconvenience.  In such circumstances, you should pre-emptively approach them in a friendly and co-operative manner.  Leave your kit in the car to begin with, just introduce yourself and be smiley and friendly.  Take an interest in the church itself and make small talk before broaching the subject of wedding videography.

When you do bring up the subject of filming, gently suggest your favoured position, while offering flexibility.  As long as they know that they’re running the show and you’re not going to get in the way, you should get what you want.  It’s certainly a better approach than going in all-guns-blazing with 3 tripods and all the gear from the off!

2. Use a fast lens

Churches can be dark.  You don’t want your beautiful couple covered in video noise, from where you’ve pushed your camera sensor to the limit.  It’s worth investing in a fast telephoto lens and a camera with good low light capabilities, such as the Sony A7s.

3. Shoot from the back of the church

There is vary rarely a good spot at the front of the church.  So the best option for a solo wedding videographer is to film the bride’s entrance on a monopod from the front and then quickly move to the back, where you’ll have already set up a tripod.  Then film the rest of the ceremony from the back in a mid shot.  This has two advantages:

a) You’ll have plenty of space at the back, and a clear view of the couple and the readings.

b) The vicar/priest is likely to talk at length, facing the guests, so this will give you a front-on view of them, without having to move your tripod or even reframe the shot.

4. Prepare for a long ceremony

Church ceremonies tend to go on for much longer than civil ceremonies.  Expect the vicar/priest to give a sermon of some sort, and also expect hymns.  In preparation for the extra length, make sure you have batteries and memory cards that can go the distance.  Be mindful of any recording time limit on any of your cameras.

5. Use multiple audio recorders

Civil ceremonies tend to be quite cosy affairs up the front, with everything happening in a small space.  The registrar is always close to the couple, and the readings tend to happen just to side.  If you are filming from the front, your onboard camera mic can get decent audio on it’s own.

While one lapel mic on the groom might suffice in a basic set up for a civil ceremony, for church wedding videos, it’s imperative to also mic up the vicar/priest.  This is because they will always talk at length, and will likely ask the couple to sit down, so they will be too far away from the groom’s mic.

It’s also a good idea to leave a mic recorder, such as the Zoom H1, on the lectern where the readings will take place.