How Video Planning Helped Me Plan My Wedding
I like to think that most people don't fail to plan, but that they don't know that they need to plan and what to plan for! As senior video producer at See3, I’ve seen this conundrum unfold while planning videos for all kinds of organizations, which is why I am always glad to step in and ask the right questions to help organizations figure out what they should be planning for.
I’m getting married this weekend, for the past few months I’ve been immersed in planning my wedding. The sad part is that I’ve told my friends and family dozens of times, “Planning a wedding is just like producing a film!” The only difference is I am on the client side and I have no idea where to start besides knowing that I need a Rabbi and a location.
Here are a few places where I was very aware of the overlap between planning to produce a video and planning my wedding:
Attendees vs. Audience
When you first start planning a wedding, you need to figure out who to invite. For my wedding, I chose to invite a close group of family and friends. The harsh reality is that we couldn’t invite everyone we wanted to due our venue capacity and budget.
You need to ask a similar question for video planning – Who is your audience? It could be as broad as donors and volunteers or targeted towards specific demographic categories like Generation X or women over 40. Remember, “everyone who sees our video” is not an audience and sometimes tough choices must be made about who you want your video to speak to directly.
Wedding Theme vs. Video Messaging
A question I was often asked by our wedding vendors was, “What is the look and feel of your wedding?” REALLY!? I had no idea that I needed to think about this before I started planning my wedding. I honestly thought I could just choose a venue and everything else would magically fall into place. (You know, like how it happens in the movies.) But in all honesty this was a great question. Something as simple as picking a color to be used throughout helped to simplify everything else and set a tone and mood for the wedding that represented my fiancé Claude and I.
When planning a video, this question becomes, "What is your message?" What are your trying to say to your audience? How do you want them to feel before, during, and after the video? How do you want your organization, initiative or program to be represented? If you are communicating a message that you have already communicated, how will video be different? Video often does what other forms of media can’t – emotionally connect with a viewer, and speak to the heart. You should make sure your message can clearly appeal to the emotions you’d like your viewer to feel after watching your video.
Wedding Invites vs. Video Distribution
Ah, the dreaded wedding invite. "How will I invite my guests?" is always a big question to answer when planning a wedding. Claude and I are used to communicating with our friends via email and social media, so we sent out “Save the Date” cards via email to our friends. We snail mailed “save the dates” to our family and the rest of the “older generation."
When making a video, the invite question can be framed as, "How will you reach your audience?" or "How will you distribute your video?" A video is only good if people see it. If you have multiple audiences, think about creating multiple ways of reaching out instead of just one.
The Importance of Budgeting
One of the most important questions you can ask when planning any grand initiative (whether it be a wedding or a video) is What’s your budget? Claude and I had to do research to even figure out what a wedding costs! It came down to what do we want to spend money on, and what can we do ourselves, and where we could save. In the end I think we found a good balance, spending more on things that mattered and being conservative about details that weren't as important to us.
When producing a video, don’t only think about the video production itself; think about where video falls into your larger communication strategy budget. What are your communication and marketing goals? Is video the best resource to invest in? Not every production needs to be high end. A short video of a programs officer speaking directly to the camera can be powerful if used in the right setting.
Details, Details, Details!
No detail or decision I made while planning my wedding was simple. For example, hiring a caterer. I am vegetarian, and Claude is not. I knew I wanted a veggie wedding but he wouldn’t budge. So, we met half way and I agreed to one meat item as long as it was a local farm and hormone free. (I’m still a little bitter about this.) Finding this caterer wasn’t simple. Once we found one that could work with us, we had several decisions to make before our vision was final: Did we want a plated dinner or buffet dinner? Do we want Hors d'oeuvre’s? If so, are they passed or on a table? For drinks, what do we provide? Full bar service or beer and wine? Then we had to narrow our selection of sides down, followed by final counts of guests, plater and glass selection, and a review of the final seating layout. I think you get my point that basically our choose for food was way more in depth then the actual food. It required several rounds of review until we were ready for the actual reception.
Video is the same way – no joke! Once you have figured out who you are talking to, what you want to say and how you will reach your audience there are MANY more details to figure out. How will you tell your story? Live action narrative? Motion graphics? Documentary? Once you have decided this, who will provide these services? If you are telling the story through documentary you must plan production logistics – Who is your subject? When can you film with them? Where will you film them? Then there are still very important decisions to be made in post production. It’s standard for the edit process to go through three rounds of review or more. Sometime not all subjects work out or items such as music, that are subjective, can take a while to finalize. I don’t want to overload anyone here, but seriously, planning all these little details will lead to a great finished product!
So after all this planning, I know we will have a beautiful wedding this weekend. Besides having meat on the menu, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I am exhausted, but am so glad I could apply the lessons I learned helping nonprofits successfully plan and produce meaningful content in a compelling way to plan for one of the biggest days of my life.
Have you noticed any overlap between planning a video and other important life events? Share your examples in the comments!