I fully believe in 'you get what you pay for' and while getting a bargain is always reason to do a happy dance, there are certain things that scream 'bargain basement' all the way up to 11 (that's a This Is Spinal Tap reference for you young 'uns). And one area is videography. Although anyone and a trained monkey can pick up a Camcorder, what you do with it separates the pros from the amateurs.
I'm always surprised by the number of people who say 'oh, we'll just have a few friends with their video cameras take the footage' as I'm pretty sure they will not be happy with the final outcome. They are friends, afterall, and are there to enjoy the wedding first and foremost. They are not concerned with getting shots of everyone or making sure they're not blocking the photographer or being positioned correctly for 'the' moments. And how quickly will you receive copies afterwards?
If you want professional results, you need to hire a professional.
Note the word 'professional'. Hiring a film student will get you just that – a student with little experience (if any) filming a wedding. And do you really want the 'next Bunuel' shooting your wedding, all artsy close-ups/weird angles/etc.?
Here, then, are my suggestions for hiring a great videographer without breaking the bank:
Look and compare – Check out at least three videographers in similar price points. What do their packages offer? Do you like the final edit? Would you feel comfortable with them at your wedding?
How many cameras? Are you paying for one camera or more? Each additional camera not only means more money up front but an additional vendor meal as well.
Schedule Wisely – Instead of paying for eight hours, have the videographer arrive for the ceremony and then schedule the cake cutting, first dances and speeches at the beginning of the reception, thus cutting his shooting time down a few hours. And yes, you have to pay for his time regardless if you want him shooting or not. Videographers (like photographers and musicians) are paid by blocks of time. So asking the videographer to be on-site for six hours but only shoot during four of those is not an option. If they are there, they are working and shooting.
Skip the Special Effects – This isn't Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. There is a cost for all those creative doohickeys. Unless you're giving this to the Academy 'for their consideration', save your pennies and forego the effects.
Play DJ – If you're including music for the soundtrack, give the songs you want to the videographer on a CD or as an MP3 file to save the editor from having to search for the music himself (and time = $$).
Edit the editor – For each hour of raw footage, it's at least two hours in the editing suite and that is where the bulk of the cost comes. If your videographer is up for it, see if you can get just the 'raw footage', that is all the video they've shot the entire day without any editing. Some people prefer to have it in 'real time' anyways. And maybe, down the road (ie as an anniversary gift) you can get the footage edited.
Forego the Fancy Case – Do you really need a hand-crafted DVD case out of rare cocobolo wood, harvested from a Costa Rican rainforest and carved by tribal elder using his great-great-great grandfather's ceremonial blade? Didn't think so. Go for the standard plastic case and stick a photo in from your wedding. Afterall, are you really going to have this sitting out on your coffee table?
Take your Time – Rush charges usually run a couple of hundred dollars. Can you live without your video for an additional two or three weeks? If so, relax and save some dough.
My advice? Hire the best videographer you can afford and use the above tips to get the best bang for your buck. If video is important to you (and it is nice to have it as a momento for years to come), it's better to have quality than to save a few dollars and be disappointed.