If you search for "wedding videos" on YouTube, you'll be inundated with page after page of results. "Funny wedding," "My Clumsy Best Man Ruins Our Wedding" and "The Royal Wedding Vows" are just some of the highlights. There's something compelling about seeing a couple vow to each other -- and the rest of the YouTube universe -- that their love will last until the end of time.
But what you may not know is that when it comes to the professional wedding videos you see, couples have made a big financial decision to hire a videographer to tape eight hours of their special day.
When it's all said and done, was that expense worth it?
"It is a lot of money, especially in this economy," says Jonathan Holt, the creative director at The Wedding Theater. "It's an investment. Years from now, that money won't matter; it's about the memories."
Holt got his start in wedding videography by taping his sister's nuptials. From there, the directing graduate found a niche that he enjoyed, quit his other job and turned pro. Now he and his business partner own The Wedding Theater and have produced more than 100 wedding videos in the past few years.
Prices for The Wedding Theater's videos vary based on the features included in the packages; that's common practice for most photography and videography companies. Holt's packages range from $3,000 to $5,000.
According to wedding coordinator Jenn Mobley, these prices are pretty consistent with what she tells her clients when they express an interest in hiring a videographer. But she's not shy to point out that only about 25 percent of her clients actually go forward with the hiring.
"I firmly believe that (videos) are a nicety and not a necessity. That is how our couples are really treating it," says Mobley of Eventity, an event planning company that specializes in weddings.
Holt agrees that there are just some couples who don't feel the need to preserve their wedding in video form. And he says that he won't approach them like a used-car salesman to persuade them to buy one of his video packages. "Most people who come to us are already interested," he adds.
Mobley points out that there is sometimes a perceived alternative to professional wedding videos: having the bride's second cousin, twice-removed, sit in the back of the venue with a camcorder and record the whole eight-hour event. Mobley says, "It's absolutely not the same, but it's the same line of thinking."
So in an economy that has slashed the average wedding budget by $10,000 to $15,000, what are the perks of hiring a professional to create a video?
It's all based around showing emotions, Holt emphasizes. While still-photography is fantastic and almost no couple will skimp on getting a professional photographer for the wedding, there are times that photos just can't capture it all (see: Uncle Bob's moving speech that brings everyone to tears).
"Imagine your parents and what you know about them right now as older people who have raised you," says Holt. "You might have seen a few wedding pictures, but imagine what it would be like to see them in their youth, when they were in love."
Another plus is that these videos are high-quality products. Producers lay musical tracks over the video, and they tastefully and professionally intertwine cuts and edits to provide you with a full film experience.
Monica Pradel, also a coordinator at Eventity, says some of their couples use the video to share their wedding with relatives who weren't able to attend the actual event. She also notes that using Skype, the computer software that allows you to place voice and video calls over the Internet, is convenient for couples who want to broadcast their nuptials to those who can't be present to celebrate.
But with Skype, no keepsake video exists for couples to look back on. On the other hand, will the DVD start gathering dust on the shelf, maybe only to be pulled out on special anniversaries? Mobley says the problem with videos is exactly that: "What am I going to do with it?"
But if you're still interested in having your special day on tape for decades to come, Mobley has some sound advice: "Even the best or most expensive videographers want the business, and they should be able to negotiate or give you the best deal. If they aren't, then go to someone else. Go with someone who really values you and seems to really want to be there on your wedding day."