6 Mistakes that Couples make when Getting Married in SWVA

I remember meeting a couple back in December of last year, they really liked my work as a wedding filmmaker, and they met with me over coffee. We chatted about 15 minutes and then I asked where they were getting married at. Well, the couple hadn’t booked a venue yet and I stopped them right then and there.

I said they shouldn’t book anyone until they have a wedding date, which REALLY means you need to book a wedding venue. The two are synonymous to each other.  That stinks because I lost a booking, well only for about 3 weeks because the couple came back to me with a date and a venue.

And that’s one of the common mistakes couples make when planning their wedding. In fact, I’ve seen many mistakes couples make in my wedding video career and today I want to share with you about 6 of the most common ones that I’ve seen and share with you how you can correct them before it becomes a major mistake.

Messing Up Your Marriage License in Virginia


So, there I was, filming a wedding back in 2013 here in Roanoke. The couple had everything lined up, the venue, the vendors such as me, the day was perfect and the guests were being seated in the church at St. Andrew’s. Then, I overheard the bishop say (in the wireless microphone which is for the video, I could hear with my ear piece) the marriage license was 61 days old.

Well, in Virginia, a marriage license is ONLY valid for 60 days. The couple went and filled out the marriage forms at the courthouse 1 day longer than it was valid for and you know what, the entire day was completely for show.

The couple had to wind up going back to the courthouse first thing Monday morning to get another license, go back to the church and have the bishop meet them there and do the ceremony over and then do the paperwork.

Yes, this DOES happen from time to time, so make sure that the wedding is within the 60 day window of getting the packet from the courthouse, otherwise, you’ll have to get ‘re-married’ legally speaking.

Micro-Managing the Photographer and Videographer’s

Back in 2014, I filmed a couple getting married up in the NRV, it was fall because the weather was getting cooler and I remember flying the drone around the church property and it being cold!

Anywho, I met the couple and started filming and doing what I do best, film. I met the wedding photographer about 40 minutes later and then it started to happen, the bride started telling both of us how to do our jobs.

Well, it turns out the bride once worked in broadcasting and she thought she knew what she wanted from me and the ‘tog’. This didn’t go very well, in fact, it slowed things down because I was getting the shots she wanted for the video, plus the shots I got and used for it instead. The wedding photographer did much of the same.

This created a bottle neck of sorts and the hour that normally goes in-between the end of the ceremony and the start of the reception took almost two hours.

If you want us media types to capture a few additional things, just let us know, but don’t hand us a 8 page document with a list of every single shot you can think of, we know what we need to get and much of the shots you ask for are pretty typical. Give us some creative freedom and you focus on enjoying the day. If they’re good at what they do, you won’t have to worry about the video or the images.

Skimming Over Wedding Contracts

This happens more often than you’d think, you really like my services, pricing and what I have to offer. So, you skim over the contract, fill it out, sign it and return it. Then after the wedding you’re asking about a certain thing, maybe it’s reception footage or live streaming, but whatever you’re asking about- you didn’t purchase in the contract.

Well, that happens to just about every vendor in the wedding business. It’s not that we didn’t do our jobs, it’s that we did them according to the contract.

My advice make sure you look over them before signing them and ask questions about anything in them. A good wedding vendor should be able to easily explain why verbiage is in there and what it means. If there is something that doesn’t appeal to you in the contract, ask for it to be re-written or omitted if you don’t understand it.

You’ll find that most wedding contracts are standard, protecting both you and the wedding vendor. I suggest that you read over them in fine detail, take your time and make sure you understand what your signing too.

The RSVP Problem

So, you have a list of people you want to invite to the wedding and you send out an RSVP, awesome, one less thing to do!

BUT, after you sent them out, you forgot to have verbiage about bringing a plus one person and that creates an issue. Suddenly, your 100-person guest list becomes 145 and that means 45% people to feed, which means MORE money to fork out.

I’ve had a handful of wedding’s I’ve filmed where the bride didn’t know a lot of her own guests, in fact I remember having one wedding where there was a plated dinner for 87 wedding guests but there were 106 guests. Yeah, that creates an issue.

Make sure that you have a rule on your RSVP about bringing a plus one, it’s very important. Normally, RSVP’s will be a given out assuming it’s a couple, but if you’re buying food for X amount of people, make sure it’s X amount of people, that way you don’t overspend or be surprised at your wedding.

Bridal Party and Food

It’s your wedding day and you’re stressed out thinking about making the day go perfectly, you have jitters and your overthinking things. Well one thing that I’ve noticed when filming in the bridal suite (or place where your getting ready) is that those with a couple of food trays with snacks and beverages tend to do a lot better with stress than couples that don’t offer anything.

Listen, it’s a BIG day and that goes for your bridal party too. Feed them. It’s a common mistake that couples make and overlook. Run down to the local Kroger or grocery store and buy a couple of cheese trays, fruit and veggie rays and get some bubbly.

You don’t need to purchase a big meal but having some nibbles on hand will clam your nerves and make you feel better if you have something on your stomach. I highly suggest spending a little bit on some snacks during the pre-wedding for both sides of the bridal party.

Prep Time

Just about every wedding season in our region, March-October, I have at least one couple that thinks it only take an hour to get ready before the wedding day. Well, that’s not the reality of things. First, it makes it extremely hard for people like me to capture what’s going on because of the time crunch. Then you have make-up artists that need a good amount of time, hair stylist, the photographer, of course the wedding party needs to prep and getting the venue together is a huge task that often takes several hours too.

Let’s just say an hour to get ready is asking for big trouble.

My professional advice, you need a good 3-4 hours before the wedding to prep for the day. That sounds like a lot but truth be told with so many things going on, that’s about the right amount of time. Don’t stress it and allow the time to get everything done right. The longer you have to prep, the better the wedding day will go for you and everyone else around you too.

Bonus: Not Hiring a Videographer

It’s no surprise that only 34% of couples hire a wedding videographer and the number one reason, budget constraints. If you’re one of the 66% of couples that doesn’t hire a wedding video professional like me, chances are you will regret that fact by the time you have your first wedding anniversary.

In fact, according to Wedding Wire, 97% of couples that skipped hiring us, completely regret that decision. Having a wedding film allows you to actually re-live the day, see the day in motion, captures what was said so you can hear it to remember it and evokes an emotion that images simply can’t do.

While our media cousins, wedding photographers are usually at the top of the list of being hired, us video guys are many times near the bottom, but that’s a problem for couples.

Why is that?

Because many times the last-minute couple will fork out full price for a wedding film which can be just as much as a wedding photographer and in some cases, much more! By booking earlier and placing us closer to the top of the wedding planning list, that will enable you to many times take advantages of better pricing, various payment plans and in select cases give you discounts if you book during an off season, late fall through wintertime.

And there you go friends, some common mistakes that couple make and how to avoid them. If you like my blog, please feel free to check out other articles that I have! I help guide couples locally and all across the nation, giving them great advice on ways to have a better, smoother wedding in the process