I wanted to share my saga and experience with videographer, Heather Olson. This is *long* so please hang in there and read it, because I feel that it serves as a what not to do guide for other brides. One quick note, everything in quotations are directly from email correspondence from her to me.
Our wedding took place in Austin on Friday, December 17th of 2010. Initially, the video wasn't all that important to me but as the planning progressed I realized I would really want to capture all of the little details that, at the time, I swore I would remember but knew would eventually fade from memory.
So, I contacted Heather Olson. She had a great package where for $1000, you got three copies of your video on DVD, two cameras filming at the wedding (one still and one hand-held), special editing, etc. I contacted her on September 21st, and then a few life events happened (you don't even want to know, but to sum up, my mom was in the hospital, I was in a literal near-fatal car crash, my FI's parents were having issues to the point where his dad moved into our house with us, etc.) on my end before I could get back in touch with her again. When I did, at the end of November, she said I was subject to her new price increase. I felt that was fair since it had been awhile since we had been in touch. Note: the price increase was to the $1000.
We got everything sorted out, and we paid her in full shortly before the wedding. At the wedding, she seemed to have everything figured out. She was all over the place but she wasn't actually in anybody's face. She had been in touch, and everything was great.
The contract clearly states that the videos would be ready two months (so for those of you playing along at home, that would be February 17th) at the latest after the wedding.
After The Wedding
I received an email from Heather on Wednesday, February 9th saying that "the footage should be ready by the end of [the] next week!" Note: the end of the following week would have been the 17th, the contracted date of delivery for the videos. My husband and I were really excited to see it.
Not wanting to be a bridezilla, I didn't jump all over her case when the videos weren't there by the 17th. Instead, I figured I would wait until the end of February to contact her to see if everything was ok.
On Monday, February 28th she actually emailed me and said that my "videos are next in line to be burned" and that she had a wedding before ours that wanted all the raw footage strung together and it was taking awhile. She said she didn't realize how long it would take, and that she would give me a heads up when it was on its way.
I didn't hear from her the entire month of March, so, concerned, I emailed her on Saturday, April 16th asking for an update. She responded on Monday, April 25th (so more than a week later) saying "many apologies for the late response. I plan on getting your videos out this week. If I fail to do so, I will let you know! Thanks for keeping tabs, and I'll send the tracking number once they go out!"
After no further correspondence with her (i.e. she didn't update me to the fact that she didn't send them out like she said she would, didn't email me with a reason as to why our videos didn't go out, etc.), I finally emailed her on Thursday, June 16th asking that we either get a refund OR our videos in our hands on or before July 1st. She didn't respond to that email until June 22nd, six days later.
In that email she said that my request was "totally fair and completely understandable. I agree if you do not receive it by July 1st I will refund your money."
Well, July 1st came and went, and there was no money in my PayPal account OR videos. She sent me a link to a highlight reel that she put online shortly after that though.
We received our videos today, Saturday, July 9th, approximately 6.5 months after our wedding, and approximately 4.5 months after the contracted delivery date.
First, we couldn't play the DVD (any of the three copies) on ANY of our Blu-Ray or DVD players. We finally got it to play on my Mac. I'm not sure how much of this is her fault, to be fair, because I honestly don't know that much about these DVDs. I just wanted to add that in just in case somebody else was having issues playing their wedding videos, from her or not.
The quality was truly terrible. Specific examples:
-I don't know what happened, but she either didn't ask anybody at the church (I literally had three coordinators that were obviously dressed as coordinators) or didn't see where the bridesmaids were standing. Therefore, the still camera she was using was blocked the bridesmaids as they approached the altar. I'm not kidding.... the entire time I'm walking up the aisle, the only thing you can see are my bridesmaids backs and hair. You can't see me walking down the aisle with my elderly grandfather, one of the highlights of my entire life.
-The sound quality on the highlight she posted online that she sent me a link to was perfect. You could hear everything nicely and clearly. On the video? The same exact words cannot be heard. I don't know if she didn't take the time to go back and do the volume on the video or something, but you can't hear it. I know it's not an issue of my computer malfunctioning because I can also go watch the highlight on my computer, and everything can be heard clearly.
-It's shaky. I'm sorry, and I know this part is not being objective, but if you have had almost seven months to complete a video, I expect to be able to not get sick from watching it. Her handheld camera was very, very shaky. I honestly think she didn't go back and run a stabilizer on that part, because of the fact that I was able to edit bumps out of our honeymoon video (and let me be clear... this was the first time either my husband and I had ever used a camcorder or edited, and we were walking over very, very bumpy terrain in Italy), on my Mac and she couldn't do it on our wedding video with seemingly professional equipment leads me to believe she didn't edit it.
-There are parts that are flat out missing. The biggest part that's missing is our exit. Our reception ended on-time, and in fact she met us at the bottom of the stairs to introduce herself. My photographer managed to capture still images of the exit, so I'm not sure why she couldn't get her handheld camera and film.
What I'm Doing Now
At this time, I plan on emailing her and asking if we can have our raw footage. I'm hoping that maybe I can send the raw footage to somebody else that can *maybe* extract some of me walking down the aisle with my grandfather, or just get a re-edit done of the video. I'm not happy with the shaking.
In the end, I'm glad we have something of our wedding. I had completely forgotten that my husband and little brother-in-law sang that song Lola karaoke style at the reception, or just how awkward the toast from the best man actually was.
But, please remember: buyer beware. I found Heather through a recommendation on the The Knot. Be sure to ask each and every vendor you hire all the questions you want. You have the right, as a consumer, to be thoroughly aware of how they do things (in this case, I should have asked how she edits videos and if I could see full-length examples of her work... the clips I saw online of her work were great. The clip she sent us of our own video was great. The video, as I demonstrated above, was not). I should have asked her to please include certain things (the cake cutting was in the two minute highlight clip, but it wasn't in the reception section of our DVD).
Good luck ladies. I hope all of you have great weddings, and for those of you who used Heather, I sincerely hope everything turns out ok. If anybody has specific questions, please feel free to PM me.