A wedding video can capture the movement and sounds of your wedding memories.

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A wedding only lasts a few hours, but this short-lived occasion produces a lifetime of joyful memories. And what better way to preserve these memories than in moving pictures? For a long time, photography was the only way to document your special day, but as video cameras became smaller, cheaper and better-quality, the wedding video was born. A wedding videographer can document everything from the ceremony to the entire weekend and have it edited in a nice package on DVD in a matter of days. Here are a few things to consider when shopping around for a video service.

Determine Your Needs

Most wedding video companies offer a range of packages depending on what you're interested in documenting. The least expensive typically entails a single camera person shooting only the ceremony. But if you really want to document the entire weekend, you can also opt for someone to shoot the rehearsal and dinner, the ceremony, the reception and everything in between. Most times, you'll hear this referred to as a premium package -- meaning it's expensive. The more of the weekend you want on film, the pricier it will be. A top-notch wedding video company will edit together the entire weekend, complete with behind-the-scenes footage of the bride and groom getting ready for their big day.

Understand the Fees

Like everything else in the wedding industry, there are all kinds of additional fees for a video service. Make sure you go over these in detail so you aren't hit with unexpected charges. For instance, it costs extra for additional camera operators, so if the videographer offers to bring an assistant and backup equipment, ask about the costs involved. Sometimes, a single camera person will bring additional cameras to set in position on tripods for coverage from different angles. This costs more money in most cases. You should also inquire about the editing fees. If you're on a tight budget, some companies will simply shoot the wedding and turn the raw footage over to you for a rock-bottom rate. But, if you want your day edited together with music, title graphics and special effects, the price will go up. Also, determine the number of copies your price includes and find out the cost involved in getting duplicates.

Watch the Reel

Wedding videos can range artistically from classy, movielike videos to ones that are a little more homespun. If you don't want pink hearts and starburst effects floating across the screen, then you'll want to watch the demo reel with a close eye. The reel is supposed to represent the videographer's best work so you'll have an idea right away if your tastes align. Modern editing equipment and gear has made it possible to produce movie-quality images complete with slow-motion or effects like black and white or sepia tones. Settle on what you're looking for ahead of time to be sure you get the video you want.