On Life and Love

Wedding Video vs. Photos

A thousand dollars for photos, or a thousand dollars for video?

Surely, this is a normal modern bride’s dilemma. If I pick only one to be done professionally, which is better?

Or should I pick neither to be done professionally? Disposable cameras on the tables are very “in” now, and neither service is cheap.

How often do we really look back on photos? Greg: never. Me: I… like organizing things. On the flip side, how often am I going to watch a video of my own wedding? At our first anniversary? When I’m contemplating divorce in seven decades?

Okay, so maybe that sort of record isn’t really for me. It’s for our parents, any demons that get… spawned, and friends and fam who couldn’t make it or who didn’t get invited. Do they even care? I haven’t gotten a strong response from our parental units on the matter, but I always wanted to see my parents’ wedding.

Photos are easy to look at and pretty in an album, but also silent. The candid shots won’t catch what funny line in the toast people are laughing at. I’m not very photogenic myself, so posed shots are likely to look stilted at best.

Videos are very modern, of course, but they have a reference problem: how do I refer to specific events in the video? Am I really going to tag everything so I can find my soon-to-be-mom’s rendition of the “Cupid Shuffle“?

Actually… that I would tag.

I’m just a few months away from getting married, so the whole decision may end up driven by the availability of local talent, but I’m curious as to others’ thoughts.


  • Nancy Dulin

    Hi Melissa,
    You will want something to look back at….I personally like pictures as they do last a lifetime. As “video” options and technology advances, you may not be able to “view” your video. If we had videotaped our wedding in 1984, I am not sure we would be able to see it today. We enjoyed looking at our pictures on special anniversaries – 10years 20 years 25 years….
    Would someone video candid moments at the wedding? That might be fun!
    In the end, you must follow your heart in all decision making.
    Love to you and Greg. Merry Christmas!
    Nancy (and Bob, and Lindsay)

  • Imani

    So my mom is crazy about the cake-cutting picture. She somehow has one for both her parents and my dad’s parents, which meant she had to have a cake-cutting picture for her wedding. She then arranged the trio on the wall in the dining room. It looks fairly classy, actually. However, these are the only wedding pictures from those weddings that I’ve ever seen. And my parent’s picture is a doozy. My dad: powder-blue suit, ruffled shirt, giant mustache that connects to his sideburns. My mom: full-coverage, demure dress, big veil, long, long hair. Even after all these years, I still burst out laughing whenever I see it. So maybe you only need one really nice picture. :p

  • Jonas

    I think you really, really don’t want to hire a professional photographer. They get in the way, they annoy people, they don’t belong, and they mostly take enormously clichéd photos. Not worth the money.

    If you are going to spend money on photos, why not simply use it to buy a high-quality camera? You can get amazingly good cameras starting around 300$ (if you need advice my wife will be happy to provide). That way you not only get to have photos of your wedding, you also get to have an awesome camera.

    Merry Christmas to you & Greg!

  • guyblade

    Photos have the benefit of being able to be framed, placed on a wall, and moving easily from place to place. They maintain a degree of permanence. They can be hung in offices or on mantles and are easy to give to family.

    The video would be watched perhaps 6 times, ever, once completed: by the family at major milestone anniversaries, perhaps at a funeral, maybe once by the kids while they dig through your old records after you’ve died.

    Of course, the right (and therefore most expensive) answer is to do both and do them both professionally. That ensures that you have the best records possible. The professionals know how and when to take shots and won’t miss something because of unfamiliarity with their equipment or inexperience. It might be fun to throw a few disposable cameras on tables so that people can take random candid shots but that isn’t where real records will be found.

  • Melissa Avery

    @Nancy: That’s a really valid point about video formats. I’d definitely be capped by our current video technologies in terms of quality, video players, etc. Even being a techie now, I wouldn’t relish the idea of (in your case) converting up a VHS to a digital format.

    @Imani: You know I’m totally putting Greg in a ruffly blue suit, don’t you? I was even considering a cravat, just to add a retro touch to the whole thing.

    @Jonas: The kicker with just getting a camera is that someone has to wield it. Whoever the (amateur) photographer is would end up participating much less in the festivities on account of being a picture-taker.

    @Guyblade: I totally expected a more grassroots response from you. 🙂 I think you’re right about the video being very rarely watched and the photos being more portable and permanent.

    Y’all are all very convincing. I’m liking the photo idea more and more, although my initial take was that photos were old-fashioned.

  • Nancy Dulin

    Hi Melissa,
    If you do hire a photographer, then make sure he knows what he is doing. Shelly’s mom hired a landscape photographer and he didn’t have a clue! WE had to tell him what pictures to take. CRAZY!! And, he charged $1000.00 too!

    • Melissa Avery

      Ouchie. Definitely no go on the landscape photography. 😛 I’m looking pretty carefully at portfolios and such. Some folks have a really great eye for good shots.

  • Jonas

    We have fantastic photos from our wedding, most of them taken by my father-in-law with a good camera. Not hundreds, but a few dozen, and they’re great. Keep in mind that people take photos at events anyway, and giving someone a cool camera and letting them take some photos is no big deal (multiple people can do it, too). And in your case, you would not only get cool photos, you’d also get a great camera you can use for years afterwards.

    You don’t need millions of cliché photos taken by professional who can’t tell the mother-in-law from the annoying relative you were forced to invite, you need high-quality photos of the right things taken by someone who has a personal connection to the event. Everyone will be taking photos anyway, so why not give them a good camera and let them have fun?