Get ready to bookmark this super necessary insider wedding info, engaged Cakies! Our longtime friend and 100LC A-lister Brian of Shark Pig Weddings is here to talk wedding videography… And you’ll want to hear his wedding advice, as they’ve been in the biz for 10 years and nearly 1000 weddings now! Pretty solid sample size, we’d say. Take it away, Brian…
Hello there, 100 Layer Cake reader! My name is Brian Morrow. Ten years ago I founded a wedding video company called Shark Pig Weddings. Back then, it was really just me working out of a tiny bedroom in Echo Park. Over the last decade, our little company grew. We booked so many weddings that we needed a whole team, and that crew has traveled all over the world documenting awesome parties in the name of Love. After nearly 1000 weddings, we feel like we’ve been witness to what works at a wedding as well as what doesn’t. We submitted this list of along with our new reel so you can trust we’re qualified. We decided to focus on the genuine moments with this reel, but it still turned out dreamy. The song is One & Only by Ruth Moody. Please check out and support her music! And let us know what you think about our unsolicited advice.
1. Real moments matter. They should be captured.
Wedding videography used to be horrible! You know the style I’m talking about. Everything is glowing and slow. Maybe there’s a horse. We’re glad that those trends are mostly gone, but there’s a new trend emerging that’s worth talking about: The Epic Shots. You’ve probably seen them—a couple stands on the edge of a death defying cliff in the throes of passion, her dress rippling in the wind. It’s a very shareable image, if you will. The only problem with those epic editorial shots is that the whole style was derived from fashion photography, and fashion is fundamentally linked to the trends of their own time. So even though it’s hype for us to get dropped off by a helicopter on top of a mountain, we’re no longer doing documentary work at that point. It is a wild moment in time, but not timeless. What is timeless are the real moments that unfold amongst that specific group of family and friends on that specific day. That collection of people is truly unique because they will never be assembled together again. Indeed, that tenet is one of the core principles of why the ceremony is sacred. To my fellow vendors: I know a candid shot with grandma isn’t as Instagrammable as posing your couple on a giant cliff or something, but it’s important. We are in the service of this moment. Invite the unexpected to your lens and stay present. It’s important to document this celebration of Love. Plus, it makes for great material anyway. I mean… did you see our reel? And to the couples out there: Your job is to actually experience those real moments! It sounds ridiculous, but it’s easy to get swept away by the different happenings on the day. Make sure you stop and enjoy! Look your old family members and your new ones in the eyes, have champagne with your best friends, and dance your face off. As soon as you stop running from event to event, you will be blasted by the overflowing sensation of Love all around you. It’s awesome, and it’s rare. Don’t miss it!
2. If you want a great dance party, don’t stop the music every 10 minutes.
There is a common strategy for reception planning that basically assumes your guests would like to break up the dancing with repeated ceremonial moments. So you have 10 minutes of dancing and then the DJ has the dreary job of telling everyone they JUST convinced to come out to the dance floor to stop dancing and go watch you cut the cake. Then you cut the cake and all that, and then the music comes back up, everyone trickles back to the floor. Then 8 minutes later it’s time for them to stop and watch you throw the bouquet. There’s nothing wrong with any of those ceremonial traditions (except the garter toss which is just kind of uncomfortable for everyone) if that’s what you want to do, but just get them all done and then let people dance for awhile. Some people need a few minutes to get warmed up before they can, you know… do the worm or whatever.
3. A return to the traditional toast format would be a most welcome trend.
Somewhere along the way “The Toasts” turned into “The Speeches” and it’s a bummer. Most of the people who have been designated to give a “Speech” are dreading it. Most of them are not public speakers. And this last one is unbelievable but it’s true: Most of the audience is no longer listening after 5 minutes. We know this as videographers because people start having their own side conversations while we’re frantically shushing them so we get good sound. Haha! I couldn’t believe it at first either, but it’s true. If your “Speech” is 15 minutes long, people will stop listening. The traditional toast format was a very short public acknowledgment—short enough to hold up your glass while reciting a memorized quip. It could be funny, heartfelt, snide, genuine, and oftentimes a combo of many different tones at once. These weren’t something to dread. On the contrary—they end up with everyone having a drink together—an inclusive celebratory gesture for the whole crowd. Of course, I’m biased about The Speeches. They’re the most difficult portion of our night as videographers, and the files are often over an hour long by themselves. (Yes, really.) I do believe in the time honored format of giving your closest friends, siblings or parents the spotlight for a moment. It can be so sweet, but it’s easy to overdo it. Are you on deck to give a toast at a wedding? If you’ll only take one piece of advice about it—at least remember to end your with the line, “So let’s all raise a glass. (pause) Here’s to…” then say something straight from the heart. You can’t miss with that ending. Oh—and don’t forget to bring your drink with you.
4. Letting people open their own beers will cut down on bar lines.
This one is kind of dumb, but it’s a cheap solution to a real problem. When your reception is flying by, the last thing you want is to see all your friends in line waiting for a drink all night. You want them with you on the dance floor, or jumping in the pool, or whatever is happening at your reception. The thing is, people gravitate toward the bar at weddings. Even people who don’t normally drink very much are prone to let loose a bit. Talk to your bartenders about having some self serve beer or wine available at a certain point in the night. It helps them out too, and I’ve never seen anyone complain about it. It’s nice.
5. Designate specific tasks to specific people.
A planner is best, but if you can’t swing it, please don’t become your own day-of coordinator. Not because you can’t handle it. I get it! You’re organized, or you produce events, or whatever. The issue is that it’s not your job to coordinate the events on the day. Plus people will like to help you. Giving them a job is including them, and delegating those tasks gets them off your plate. At a certain point you have to stop planning and start experiencing. If you don’t, then you won’t be able to really be at your wedding—you’ll be working it. This leads me to my next point.
6. Guests do as the couple does.
This is my number 1 piece of unsolicited advice (well, number 6) for people planning their wedding, and most people don’t believe me about it until after the wedding is over. But hear me now: The guests at a wedding will do basically whatever the couple is doing. If the couple dances like crazy, everyone will jump in and it will become a crazy dance party. If the couple prefers to chit chat during the reception, it will usually turn into a more mellow, conversational evening. And I wish I didn’t know about this from experience, but if the couple spends all day fighting (with each other or with their family) then the vibe gets bad. When you pour a bunch of booze on those bad vibes, what you get is uh… well I believe the scientific term is “Shit Show”. But don’t let me scare you! It’s all going to be great, as long as you make enjoyment your north star. Because the absolute best thing can also happen with this formula—if the guests watch the couple madly in love with each other all day—then it just goes wild. You can practically see Cupid poaching the crowd in front of you. It’s the best, and it’s possible. Want your guests to have a good time? Then have a good time!
7. Silent Disco is actually pretty good.
It’s weird. Like… I didn’t want to admit this. But it’s fun! Haha. If you’re trying to figure out how to keep the party going at a venue that has strict sound ordinances, look into a Silent Disco service. And if you happen to find yourself in one, please take your headphones off for a second and just listen to the bizarre sound of the crowd. The shuffling feet in near silence, only broken up by the occasional off-pitch half singing of like one line, “Your sex is on fiiiiiiiiiiiiireeeeee!” Anyway, not even the old folks want to stop dancing at 10pm, so it’s a pretty good hack to keep it going.
8. Personal vows rule!
You would think after nearly a thousand weddings we would have hearts of cynical stone, but… we cry during the vows. Or at least I do. I can’t speak for everyone on my team of Sharks. It’s not like… a requirement to cry. (It IS a requirement that they dance while they shoot dancing footage though.) Anyway, the vows are kind of the emotional linchpin of the day. It’s the moment with the most power. Everyone’s attention and heart is pouring out together. It’s palpable and awesome. If the traditional “to have and to hold” vows are your thing—that’s cool too. They are also good. But when a couple writes their own personal vows, it makes it just that: more personal. Use the power of that moment to its fullest! (If you want.)
9. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Your big day is a big deal, but neither you nor anyone else is going to remember the minute flaws in the execution, decoration, or planning. They’ll remember if you were having a good time, though! Some things are going to go wrong. Guaranteed. That’s how it always goes, but you don’t have to let it ruin your time.
10. Couples who have the best time are the couples who do what they want.
(As opposed to what they’re “supposed” to do.) Weddings are crazy. They’re a huge step in life. A step that brings two families together and makes them one. Weddings are an industry, and they are a cultural cornerstone for many. So, it’s no surprise that there are a lot of really huge expectations placed on them from the moment you say “Yes” to the big question. Expectations that can bring your private life into the public. Expectations that carry hefty price tags. Even spiritual and religious pressure of the most serious nature might be applied. It makes sense that those expectations will appear, but here’s the thing: it’s your wedding and you don’t have to do anything other than what you want to do. You don’t HAVE to have any specific decoration, or ceremony; you don’t have to invite anyone you don’t want to. You don’t have to hire anyone you don’t want—and that includes a videographer! It’s not your parents’ wedding, and it’s not your friends’ party. It’s yours. We understand it may not seem that simple, but it’s true. You might have to have some serious conversations on the front side to manage all those heavy expectations, but people will honor your decisions. And if you happen to have us along for the ride, we will honor your decisions by documenting how it really happens with as much heart baked into the images as possible.
Anywho—there you go! If you’re engaged reading this, I don’t want to close with a sales pitch. I just want to reiterate point 10. This whole new reel and blog post will be a success in my book if just one couple reads this and feels emboldened to do what they truly want with their wedding. Not that you need it, but we are giving you permission. Congratulations from me and my whole Shark Pig Weddings team! I hope you have a blast! —Brian