Elopement Videographer Philip White
When the mention of Elopements pops up in my inbox, which happens rather frequently these days, one thought always comes to mind. Another adventure. Forgive me again for indulging in cliched hipster rhetoric but it’s true. My experience of working as an elopement videographer over the last decade has typically featured myself accompanied by a cool photographer, the bride and groom and a blank page to create a film whilst exploring either a city or wild and adventurous landscape.
At this point I thought it wise to check the official definition of elopements in case my own experience was something wildly different from the truth. Official sources (Wiki) tell me that “Elopements are often used to refer to a marriage conducted in sudden and secretive fashion, usually involving a hurried flight away from one’s place of residence together with one’s beloved with the intention of getting married.” I wasn’t far wrong. I’ll continue.
Recent Elopement Videography
As an Elopement Videographer I’ve had some of my greatest experiences in life.
That’s a bold statement I know, but thinking back, it’s totally true. I’ve watched the sunset above Manhattan skylines at the top of the empire state building. Explored hidden waterfalls in Iceland, soaked to our skin. I’ve conducted ceremonies under the Eiffel tower at midnight and sailed to hidden islands in the Maldives to name but a few. Above all this I’ve made lifelong friends across the world.
We can always look back to these adventures and when we occasionally meet up again, our shared experience is always the focal point of the conversations. I’m totally privileged to experience the things I have but often at the time it’s easy to forget that elopements a wedding of sorts and regardless of my own fond memories, these were the most important days of my couples lives.
The closeness of being an elopement videographer
You’ve probably already picked up on this but it takes something much more than being a good filmmaker to be a good elopement videographer. In the past I’ve acted as official witness on more than one occasion and have even helped to conduct ceremonies and write vows. It’s hard enough to spend a few days with a total stranger at any time but this is your wedding day. You’re gonna remember it back for the rest of your life. You need to not only trust me but like me.
Thinking back to my last few elopements they were certainly adventures that we shared together and had no choice but to form a bond. We lodged in the same house, drove for hours on end in the same car, drank together, laughed together and created something special between us despite having never met before the trip. I cooked, bought groceries, helped out and generally became part of the family for a few days.
There’s something special about being a stranger at a couples elopement celebrations. Yes, I’m capturing proceeding on video for everyone to watch but to be the only other person stood there, whether it’s on a beach, mountain top, city centre or anywhere else, is always an honour and a privilege. It’s never a responsibility that I take lightly.
From a purely filming point of view, not much changes with elopements. I need to work light and be extremely portable, often jumping in and out of cars but that’s usually the case for any wedding.
I like to approach my elopement videos with a very loose structure. It’s never a good idea to try and plan rigidly every 30 minute period. I create a narrative backbone for the film using primarily audio from the ceremony or personal vows. To add some depth to the film I’ll also suggest conducting some simple interviews with the couple. It’s often a great idea to also initiate a call to family back home. This allows a way to add audio and visuals from parents or siblings into the film without them actually being present. There’s always raw emotion and it makes for a great scene in the final film.
I also try to replicate the structure of a standard wedding day, taking variations of traditions and including them into the elopements film. For example preparations and ceremonies are always included but I’ll swap footage of the meal or cake cutting for say some shots of the couple eating pizza (or cake) in the street. Instead of a first dance on a dance floor, we’ll find somewhere intimate at night and dance under the stars. There’s always a way to create an activity that will make the footage look natural rather than totally staged and false.
I really wanted to include this question as it’s so easy to get swept away with the romance of my videography without considering some of the problems that may be faced. Actually hate using the words ‘difficulty’ or ‘problems’ as they’re quite negative and suggest the elopements didn’t go well. That’s certainly not the case. But I think you have to approach the days with an open mind and certainly some flexibility with time. Factor in as much extra time as you possibly can. Plan for delays and traveling. More importantly, plan for some private downtime between the two of you.
I once drove for five hours to an elopements ceremony location to find that it was closed. Instead of wasting energy worrying about things, my couple simply smiled and enjoyed the ride back together. We found a better location which took in the sunset and things turned out great. It actually not about the problems at all. It’s about your attitude to problems. I say this to couples before any wedding. Don’t waste a single second of time worrying about anything. It’s time that you’ll never get back and is time that is a waste on your special day.
At the end of the day it’s really a personal choice to go down the elopements route. They’re certainly not everyone’s taste but can offer so many benefits. Budget. Elopements can certainly be a much less expensive option than a traditional overseas wedding. Despite paying my travel costs you should be able to control budgets easier than if you were hosting guests. Flowers need to be no more than a single bouquet and food / drink costs obviously don’t come into question. Considering most weddings these day cost more than house deposit it certainly seems like an option to think about.
No legal requirements . Frequently I’m seeing couples look after the legal side of things first before they embark on their elopements. The day can then either feature some simple vows or even hiring a local celebrant to conduct a ceremony. Either way, this can save you a lot of money and time navigating through a countries marriage laws. The adventure . This was what I eluded to first in this section. If you’re adventurous and like to do things a little different, this could be the option for you. There’s no rules, no schedule, no family politics, no expectations to meet or guests to control. Just you guys and the location.
Looking for an elopement videographer? Philip is an internationally sought after wedding filmmaker & photographer who has shot over 500 weddings and events across the world. A global ambassador for Sony, his clients include the Royal family, Oscar winners and some of the world’s most prestigious families.