Being a wedding documenter for over a decade (I started The Wedding Paparazzi in 2003), I’ve heard the gamut of questions, from basic queries about package details and rates, to some really thought-provoking ones that have actually made me reflect on how we approach the creation of our videos. I’ve also had a couple of strange ones! Here are just five of them, with a bonus of the strangest question we’ve heard. (I promise that they’re all actual questions that have been asked!)
“The people you film seem very comfortable in front of the camera. How do you get them to be natural during well-wishes?”
Over the years, we have learnt not just to listen to what people say, but to also carefully observe their body language. For example, if we noticed that your older brother had a laid-back, joking nature when he was talking to you, but suddenly became very formal when giving his well-wishes on video, we know that we need to put him at ease.
This is something that actually happened during a wedding last year. Jackson & Christine’s siblings were insanely fun during the day, keeping the energy up with their irreverent quips and making everyone laugh. But when it came to getting them to speak to camera, they suddenly became very proper and serious. After that first take, I asked them if that’s how they usually talk to the their siblings. They said, “No it’s not, but then we only talk nonsense to them!” So my response was, “Then your well-wishes will have to be nonsense now, or else they’ll feel it’s weird!” After they re-calibrated, they delivered something that was characteristically tongue-in-cheek, and yet charmingly sweet. You can watch Jackson & Christine’s video to see this.
Other times, the people we are interview have already had exposure to us, so they feel comfortable being themselves with us. In the case of Tze Hui & Yue Yang’s wedding, we had met their friends on two occasions – once about a year back when we shot the wedding of their good friends Raphael & Cheryl, and a second time when they asked us to interview their friends and family members for their pre-wedding video. So by the time Tze Hui & Yue Yang’s wedding came around, their groomsmen felt comfortable enough to have us film a hilarious little skit to offer their well-wishes. It was weird and zany, and completely in line with the kind of people they are! You can find their well-wishes right at the end of Tze Hui and Yue Yang’s video.
Luckily we have a few tricks from all the experience over the years. So it’s OK if you have friends or parents who are shy! We won’t force them, but we will definitely try to charm them into letting their guard down : )
“Will you be ‘directing’ us on our wedding day?”
The mood of your day is something we try not to mess with – every wedding has its own vibe. Some are thoughtful and quietly joyful, while others are gregariously loud and noisy. We try as much as possible not to interfere with that unique mood. We know it’s impossible to be completely invisible, but we do work very hard to make people comfortable with our presence such that they slowly ignore us.
There have been occasions that we’ve been able to capture a lovely moment or some funny words, and when the shot was screened later on, people asked us, “Wow, that’s awesome. How did you capture that? I didn’t even see you in the room.” And in response, we give a creepy, secret smile…
For sure, you definitely won’t hear us telling people to: “Stand here, and put your hand on the window. OK, hold your bouquet and look out the window as if you’re waiting for him. Now give me a gentle smile… no, no look away, give me a faraway dreamy look…”
Gah, even typing that out gives me the goosebumps.
(By the way, if the creepy, secret smile unsettled you, don’t worry. We’re very good at knowing what’s appropriate for the screen. And if we’re ever in doubt, we leave it out!)
“Will you get along with the photographer we’ve engaged?”
In all the time we have been in operation, we have never met anyone we have had a violent disagreement with. In fact, we have a history of getting along swimmingly well with the photographers we meet at weddings. Many of the photographers we have worked with over the years have become good friends, and every time we bump into them at a wedding, it feels like a little reunion.
We’re really nice people, you see!
“Do you ever get bored of shooting weddings? Aren’t they more or less the same after a while?”
Pretty much every wedding will have a happy couple, a cherished dress and a beautiful march-in. However, beyond shooting the typical, we go beyond that and seek out the things that are completely unique. Like the presence of your 92-year-old grandfather who is completely caught up with the excitement of the day and can’t help beaming beatifically around the room at his family. Or your dog who is putting up with the little doggie-tuxedo your sister made him wear for the occasion. Or the dad who can’t help being weepy because he is so proud of his daughter. These details jump out at us, and we feature them in places of pride in the videos we create, because these human moments are what makes the completely yours.
We’ve had enough people tell us how much they cherish the videos we create for them, to recognize that we are not just creating a one-time screening. We really do see it as something that will stand the test of time. Being in the role of capturing the moods and stories that will become part of a personal family history is so rewarding for us that we really can’t imagine getting bored!
“Tell me what you can do for us.”
This wasn’t actually a question, but it did make me think outside the box of what a wedding video is typically “supposed” to do. Some of these things are what we’ve been very intentional about building towards, and others were a complete surprise when communicated to us by couples.
- Bring a sense of fun and personality to your wedding: Couples and their friends often approach us after a screening to commend us on the video, and say how it actually impacted the mood of the wedding dinner. Often it also becomes a talking point when the couple or the parents of the couple go by the tables to mingle with their guests.
- Remind you about the little details: One bride called me a few days after the wedding to share that she was really looking forward to the video for all the usual reasons. But she also mentioned her husband had a strange amnesia surrounding certain events of the day. Because a wedding day can be emotionally and physically hectic (you experience so much in a relatively small timeframe), some memories need to be kickstarted. And what better way to do so with a video, which not just capture the visuals, but also the sounds and mood of the day?
- Entertain your children: A couple told us how their toddler daughter would insist on watch their wedding video Every. Single. Day. She could even recite quotes from the video. If you ask me, that’s the ultimate compliment.
- Create a time capsule: A question we use to put this into perspective is: if you could watch your mother’s wedding video, would you want to? Imagine the fashions, the traditions, and the dynamics of your aunts and uncles and parents before they were formally a family. Imagine the sense of personal history you would get from watching all of that!
BONUS: Here’s the strangest question we’ve heard: “What is the Chinese horoscope of the people on your team?”
This one really bemused us! It turns out the groom’s family was superstitious about having certain horoscope animals present at the wedding morning because it would represent an inauspicious start of the day for the groom.
Most couples don’t ascribe to such strict superstitious practices, so this was definitely a rare question! But to answer their question, our three videographers represent the horse, the dog and the monkey : )
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Curious couples make us happy, because it means they are engaged with our process. Perhaps in reading these examples, it will inspire you to ask us something interesting when we meet!