If Shell Soper didn’t know the lyrics to Queen’s blockbuster hit song Don’t Stop Me Now before, she certainly knows them now.
As one half of You Film It – which hires out cameras for DIY wedding videography and then turns the footage into videos – Shell spends her working life engrossed in moments that are equal parts hilarious and sentimental. Sometimes, that includes ones with the word ‘viral’ written all over them.
“We’ve just edited a video for one of our couples who did something they called marryoke, and it’s pretty much what it sounds,” she explains.
“Everyone was given a piece of Don’t Tell Me Now to learn in advance and then, when the wedding party was getting ready, they were all filmed doing their parts. The guests were also included, so at random parts of the day you had people singing these lyrics into the camera.
“We then cut it all together to create a seamless three or four-minute version of the song and it’s absolutely amazing.
“I love how creative couples are these days.”
Shell, who owns up to being an “absolute sook” about weddings, confesses to keeping a box of tissues at the ready when watching footage on the job.
“It’s such a precious thing,” she says. “Along with having children, a wedding is one of the most important points of your life, and I am an absolute sook about them. So when I watch back all the footage I’m either wetting myself in laughter or just crying.”
The experience makes her a natural to suggest the captured moments and moods that really make a wedding video shine.
She suggests ensuring you – or your videographer – captures at least one or two of the following moments during your big day to ensure a truly memorable wedding video:
Messages of love
“Most couples have a little card or message for each other to read the morning of the wedding, so it’s lovely to capture that moment – it’s very moving and usually comes right before the wedding itself. Then there’s the first time Dad sees his daughter in her dress,” Shell says.
“But it’s also more relaxed moments, like the girls having champagne, getting their make-up done and having some bonding time. With the boys, it’s a bit less formal, stuff like sharing a couple of beers or putting buttonholes on each other. They’re more about laughs while the girls are a bit more about the romance.”
The groom’s face
“I always think it’s really lovely to have two cameras for the ceremony – one covering the bride as she walks in and then the other on the groom to capture his reaction when he sees her for the first time. His face is always gorgeous,” Shell says. “I reckon with about 50% of them you see a few tears.”
“We always encourage couples to mount one camera on a tripod, to capture more formal moments such as the speeches, and then have a friend or relative – or your official videographer, if you have one – wander around the reception with another one,” Shell says.
“Guests are relaxed by then, so they don’t mind the camera being there. And it works wonderfully, because the person filming is already part of the celebration. So they can do little interviews, ask people to share advice, get great shots of clapping and cheering and also capture the fun stuff, like people having a laugh or the couple’s mothers on the dance floor after they’ve had a few champagnes. The dance moves can be quite amazing.”
Some people regard the speeches as dry and dusty, but if you keep recording, they’re a terrific opportunity to capture heartfelt moments among people who mightn’t normally be given to public displays of emotion. “We had one gorgeous couple called Bec and Michael, and when her father got up to do his speech he just choked up straight away. He talked about when she was born and having a little girl and how daunting that was. I cried every time I watched it,” Shell says.
Vows and first dance
The vows are a crucial moment to capture, especially if they are unique or hilarious. “We had one groom, Ryan, who vowed he would never get frustrated with his bride’s love of Ben and Jerry’s,” Shell says. But equally important to capture is the entire first dance, especially if it’s been choreographed. “The reason we encourage people to film this is because years later, as an anniversary celebration, you can watch the video, re-learn the steps and then re-do the dance,” she says. “It’s very romantic and the dance becomes a kind of heirloom.”
Another fantastic idea is to make the DVD a real family affair. “Quite often, couples will have a family meal the night before the wedding. Or they won’t go on honeymoon straight away and will have breakfast with everyone the next day. These are great opportunities for filming all the people who mean the most to you and, even if you have hired a professional videographer for the ceremony and reception, they’re not likely there the next day,” Shell says. Plus, since You Film It customers have the cameras for three or four days, they can go back and film the venues to pick up any extra shots they missed.
It wouldn’t be a wedding without some cheekiness. And this often comes courtesy of the lads. “It always tends to be the boys getting ready,” Shell says with a laugh. “We’ve had the groom in the shower and the groomsmen filming him and he doesn’t realise. We’ve had to censor that on a few occasions. We’ve also had a couple of sneaky groomsmen or bridesmaids going around to check if the bride and groom have ‘become part of the club’ as they call it. And sometimes, when couples take the cameras on a destination wedding, they’ll include a bit of their hen and stag nights and also the holiday afterwards.” It all helps to create great memories for years down the track.
Video guest book
“This is something we absolutely encourage all of our couples to do, and it’s normally where the magic happens,” Shell says. “Basically, it’s like little vox pops, where you set the camera up and encourage as many guests as you can to come by. So they’ll tell the story of how they’ve known the bride or groom for 20 years and share a story about something they did when they were eight. It’s always really nice stuff. And they’re quite willing to give good advice on what makes a long-lasting marriage. Then you get really funny stuff. We’ve even had people mooning at the camera.”
Yes, that’s right – mooning. It’s certainly a unique perspective.
The same could be said of You Film Up, which Shell and husband Jake set up after their own wedding a few years ago.
“We got married in Thailand, and didn’t have a videographer, so we asked our friends to film the celebration. Afterwards Jake, who has been doing video production for years, took the footage and turned it into our wedding DVD. And we absolutely loved it,” Shell said.
“Because we had people we knew behind the camera, we really relaxed, and they knew us well enough to do quite personal interviews with us about each other.
“Then, when we started telling people what we’d done they suggested other couples might like the same treatment.” And so the business was born.
You Film It’s process is straightforward. Couples hire one or two cameras, which are fully insured and are couriered out (and back) with full equipment such as nightlights, tripods and back-up batteries, plus comprehensive training materials and planning templates.
They are then given to friends and family to wield at will, with capacity for up to 12 hours of footage.
The cameras then go back to Jake and Shell who, after watching the footage again and again, turn it into a wedding DVD package. Included are a chapter of highlights (a cut-down version of the day that runs about 20 minutes) and three separate chapters covering the full ceremony, the reception with full speeches, and a bonus chapter with such drawcards as a blooper reel.
All are done with an eye to detail.
“We make sure we watch every last ounce of the footage as there’s always some little gem you mightn’t expect,” Shell says. “Sometimes, if you’re watching the speeches, you might think you know the drill, but there’ll be a one liner or something someone says that’s absolutely hilarious, and if you didn’t watch every single moment you could miss it. And that’s the stuff that makes wonderful memories 15 years later.”
Did someone say something about a tissue?