Upon hitting “play,” you’re greeted by the sound of seagulls and gently splashing waves. The video opens with serene shots of Bar Harbor, Maine, where sailboats rest on calm seas and a couple named Stef and Sam are about to be wed. Over the notes of a Lumineers song, a man’s voice shares a lighthearted joke about the bride and groom’s relationship.
The couple and their guests laugh in response as the scene transitions to the wedding reception, and you can’t help but laugh along with them. As if by magic, you—a stranger—have been invited to be a part of their experience.
This is the goal of Artistic Wedding Films, a company based in Newport, Rhode Island, and New Bedford, Massachusetts, that specializes in producing personalized wedding videos.
“If someone like you can click on a video and feel like you’re part of it, then we’re doing a good job,” says Mike Henriques, the company’s artistic director and lead filmmaker.
Unlike a documentary-style video, which would show the event from one perspective from start to finish, Artistic Wedding Films produces cinematic work reminiscent of Hollywood movies. Each video—including Stef and Sam’s, the featured video on their website—has a plot based on the bride and groom’s story, in which they star as the main characters.
While there is a linear element to each video, Henriques says, the filmmakers interweave music, dialogue and creative shots from throughout the day to help promote the story, drawing from the best elements of the celebration to keep the viewer captivated. Some of the creative shots are completed with close-ups of the couple enjoying the day’s events, or a bird’s eye view of the festivities with footage from a drone flying over the venue area. The team even gets to know the bride and groom beforehand through pre-submitted questionnaires, and then films interviews with them on their wedding day.
For Henriques and his team, timing is everything. A smooth wedding day makes for smooth production, but the opposite is also true: any last-minute changes to the day can impact their work. Regardless of any hiccups, combining the couple’s narrative with great imagery for the final product makes it all worth it.
“It’s about coming together and putting together a really great story for our couples … and connecting the story to the general public with a cinematic film, so that they’re being drawn into the story, too,” Henriques says.
For couples considering hiring a wedding videographer, Henriques has a few questions to guide their search.
1. What style and quality of work do you want?
Are you looking for someone to simply document the day, or would you prefer something more creative? The latter would be a cinematic production like that of Artistic Wedding Films, while the former would be a documentary-style production.
2. What is the personality and philosophy of the studio?
The videographer you choose should fit the philosophy of your wedding day. “We always try to respect the sanctity of a wedding day and the space of the wedding guests,” Henriques says of his company.
3. How much money do you want to spend?
For a good documentary-style film, Henriques says, you’ll spend a minimum of about $2,000, while a cinematic production could cost upwards of $4,000. But a more expensive wedding video should be more complex, involving several tools and camera perspectives. “It’s about propelling a story to a higher level.”