FAQS

Since the beginning of Covid-19, we’ve worked with clients like you to tailor a video package to fit the constantly evolving state of the world. While weddings may look a bit different these days, video is now more important than ever to retell the story of your wedding and/or live stream it to guests unable to attend.

Policies:

  • We must comply with current guidelines from the State of Illinois, so we are not able to honor any requests that violate those orders and we maintain right to refuse services if your currently booked services does not adhere to them.
  • We’re happy to work with you on a no fee rescheduling plan should you decide change your wedding date after booking.
  • Any cancellation requests will be handled on a case by case basis and may be subject to additional fees or penalties.

Protocols:

  • All of our on-site staff will be self monitoring for symptoms and taking regular Covid-19 tests when appropriate.
  • All of our on-site staff will be wearing face coverings and maintaining social distancing throughout your event.
  • If vendor meals will be provided, we request you seat vendors in a different room from rest of your guests.
  • For any contact that may be needed (i.e. putting on clip on microphones for Ceremony), we’ll work with you in advance on a plan that is comfortable for you and our on-site staff. Some example options include providing a pre- sanitized microphone for you to put on yourself, using a microphone on a stand instead of clip on, or other no contact audio options that may fit situational requirements.

We believe that making a wedding film is not about simply following you around all day with a video camera like an episode of reality television. A great film requires advance planning, adjustable equipment choices, and a tight-knit, experienced team of filmmakers and editors. We enjoy getting to know you and your ideas for your wedding film prior to the big day.

We reinforce our conversations with an online questionnaire where you can input all the information needed to make sure that we capture every important detail and the filming style you like best. We apply all your answers to select our equipment choices and videographers for your wedding day. We provide a minimum of two cameras and videographers which allows us to film your wedding in a cinematic documentary style that wouldn’t otherwise be possible with only one camera or videographer. Throughout our process, you decide the amount of involvement that works best and we’ll fill in our experience around that.

Cinematic Documentary: We adapt our style to fit your wedding best but there are principles we preserve for each wedding film we produce.

  1. Maintain a documentary filming style – During your entire wedding day, we make sure to stay out of sight and won’t interrupt to direct you how to pose, what to say, or when to smile. Instead, we aim to capture you kissing your spouse between photography poses, hearing you whisper your wedding vows through tears and laughing during your best man’s toast at your reception. Sometimes capturing these moments takes some advance planning specific to your wedding like attending the rehearsal at your Church. Other times it’s adapting to the situation like when your best man opts to give his speech at your table instead of at the designated spot on your dance floor – we’ll have a camera ready in each location.
  2. Blend cinematic detail and action shots – Throughout your wedding day, we are constantly scrutinizing your venue for detail shots to film that are meaningful to you. By having two videographers throughout your day, we are able to have one remain with you while the other is filming these little details. It is the subtle blend of the action shot (you touching up make-up) with the detail shot (your grandmother’s ring on a white table cloth) that make the edited film the perfect representative of your wedding day. Read more about our multi-camera filming techniques and benefits.
  3. Choose your involvement with the editing process – After gathering the logistics of your wedding, we discuss how you envision your final wedding video. You can be specific with shot ideas or genre of music or you can leave it entirely up to us to produce an amazing film.
  1. Non-obtrusive coverage. Contrary to what it sounds like, we believe non-obtrusive coverage is best obtained by multiple cameras and videographers. We do not offer, nor recommend, a one-camera package like many of our competitors do. Read more about multi-camera.
  2. Choose your desired involvement. You can hire us to handle the whole process or you can choose to customize your entire film. Our conversations together and our wedding questionnaire allows for full involvement in your film’s production. Due to the unpredictable nature of live event videography, it’s nearly impossible to capture every moment as it unfolds. Therefore, we work together to plan coverage priorities on the wedding day in addition to people and details to focus on during the editing process. Don’t rely on a company offering “unlimited re-edits” as it’s often too late in the process for the edit stage to customize your film. Our focus is on the communication that happens BEFORE your wedding day.
  3. Custom wedding packages We produce unique and fun films that bring out the most of your wedding day without being too long to digest. You can create your own custom wedding package and select from a variety of film lengths that best suite how you want to rewatch your wedding day for anniversaries to come.

Using two manned cameras is the only way to ensure a fluid and inclusive end product. There are some companies that are able to have lower cost packages by reducing coverage to one videographer for your entire day but we do not do this for following reasons:

  1. There’s no way to fully cover your wedding with just one camera. Although you may have planned your ceremony to the minute, there’s no way to plan for the unpredictable changes like one of your groomsmen taking one step further than he was supposed to and entirely blocking one of the camera’s view of you saying your vows. With a one-camera setup, you would be faced with either missing that moment entirely or seeing shaky camera movement in your final product. With a manned, two-camera setup, we’re able to switch to the unblocked camera angle while the first camera is repositioned to compensate for the obstruction.
  2. More cameras allow for less obtrusiveness. It sounds backwards, but by having more operators and cameras at your wedding, you will actually notice us less. On the contrary, a one camera and videographer setup will need to constantly be moving and adjusting angles in order to maximize coverage, which you will notice. A properly planned 2/3/4 camera setup at your ceremony will likely not need to move at all if planned and executed correctly.

We recommend our digital collection for the highest quality film and interactive menu. Each digital collection includes a unique web link with the option to password protect or share however you want. Your final video deserves to be viewed in the vivid HD quality it was originally filmed. You always have the option to add a physical copy like a DVD or Flash Drive to your wedding package for family members that prefer that option.

Owner John Severson oversees all aspects of Smiling Toad Productions and filming the wedding day of is only one part of it. To ensure an amazing final product, John is with you throughout entire process from initial package selection, to coordination of the event, overseeing the filming and editing stages, all the way to delivery of the final video and follow-up. About one month prior to your wedding day, we will send out a questionnaire which helps determine the most best filming and editing team for your wedding.

In order to give you the best film possible, we combine the talents and experience of specialized professionals. All of the videographers and editors go through an extensive vetting process. If there are any film samples that stand out to you, we’re happy to select videographers and editors to mirror that for your video. We have filmed weddings all over Chicago and will match you with the best videographers for your venue. We do not have a lead videographer or assistants, all our videographers are equally capable of capturing your memories. Owner John Severson oversees the planning, filming, editing and production process from start to finish.

There are plenty of “one-man-band” wedding filmmakers out there, but with a team of talented professionals working together, you can trust that your wedding day and final video will be the exceptional.

Not relying on any one person or piece of equipment is essential for peace of mind on your wedding day. Unlike many companies which have a lead videographer and an assistant, all of our production teams are based on two equal videographers that are responsible for their own backup camera, memory cards, and batteries. In the event of equipment malfunction, each videographer is able to substitute their backup camera.

We also have an offsite backup team that is on call during wedding day in case something happens to the originally scheduled production team. If something happens to a videographer while filming onsite, each member of our team is trained in techniques to be able to cover the event with multiple cameras by themselves until the replacement videographer arrives. In the constantly changing nature of live event recording, we believe it is of paramount importance to have a tried and tested backup system for all aspects of production.

Our priority is that you are excited about the filmmaking process and your final movie! Our 12 years of experience combined with your collaboration in every step of the planning process ensures we have the same vision for your wedding day and final film.

We use customized packages along with a wedding questionnaire to identify key family members, specific getting ready details and music preferences before we begin the filming and editing. When you provide answers and ideas, we’re confident we’ll be able to deliver on your vision. However, if for some reason there is a discrepancy or missed expectation, please let us know immediately, be as specific as possible and we’ll review your concerns. Although a set number of “re-edits” are not included with our packages, we do want to take every effort to ensure your happiness with your films so please let us know.

We know your favorite song is easily available to purchase from iTunes or Amazon mp3’s for $0.99, but this unfortunately does NOT it can be used with your wedding film. Any company that claims they can is doing so illegally and can face severe fines if discovered. In order to use your songs with your wedding films legally, we need to be able to purchase a “” for the songs. From the two sites we use, streaming licenses for wedding usage is usually in the $30-$50 per song range and the cost IS included in your wedding film package.

We have spent a lot of time researching the different options available and feel confident about providing music selections that span across all styles and genres. Our apologies if one of your favorite song or artist isn’t included, and although we may not be able to work out special circumstances to use it, we will find the closest possible match.

You’re, of course, welcome to browse around for other music licensing sources and even contact the artist directly if you like! We have had situations were special licensing has been approved. Otherwise please submit your preferred songs on the wedding questionnaire so we can find what fits best for your footage. Music licensing can be complicated and confusing so please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions.

We believe there should never be a cost to obtain the raw footage from your wedding day and are happy to provide it free of charge if the following criteria are met:

  1. Our work is complete. After raw footage is transferred, we are unable to do any further work on your film so we need to provide your originally packaged deliverables first before we can send raw footage. Once you see everything that is included in your films, your interest in raw footage may significantly diminish.
  2. You sign a release waiver. Given the “uncut” and “unpolished” nature of raw footage (showing camera movement, extra audio, etc.), we need be on same page that our work on your edited films is complete AND you will not use the raw footage in a negative means against us. We know you wouldn’t do that but need to protect ourselves nonetheless.
  3. You make arrangements to send us a hard drive in your pr MAC or PC format. Usually 200GB is sufficient or we can order one for you and bill you for it. 4. You make arrangements to send return shipping for above. Or you can leave it to us and we will bill you for.

That’s it, no charge for implementing steps above and we highly recommend you take advantage of it! We’ll keep your footage backed up for one year after your wedding date so anytime , just contact us with raw footage request and we’d be happy to walk you through steps above.

We’ll try our best! Choosing a wedding filmmaker is a bit like choosing a wedding dress, you need to find one that initially caught your eye, matches your style, and doesn’t break your budget. We’ll do our absolute best to work with you on any specifics you have but at the end of the day, if our services aren’t a perfect fit for what you’re looking for, we’ll wish you the best and try to give you a potential referral option. Beyond our minimum base package, there are several that we can adjust to bring your “wants” closer to your “needs.” Please submit a quote request and we’ll respond with our package recommendation. We are also more than willing to customize an interest-free payment plan for any of our packages upon request. See our Pricing page for more details or give us a call or setup an in-person meeting and we would be happy to work with you on finding a match.

If you want to avoid regrets and capture every moment, both photography and a wedding film are highly recommended. Great photographs are a timeless way to preserve and share a snapshot of your wedding but a film is the only way to relive those moments beyond the frame on the wall. Have you ever been curious to hear what your Grandmother’s wedding vows sounded like? Wouldn’t you like to see your mother walking down the aisle as a flower girl? Film allows you to relive your entire wedding day for generations to come.

You may get a better deal, but overall coverage and final video will not be the best quality. Different tasks require different specialists. If you recently had a new bathroom built into your house, would you hire your plumber to wire your new lighting? Although the equipment that photographers and filmmakers may look similar, they are two entirely professions. Photography usually requires a great deal of pre-wedding day planning and day of direction. Being able to quickly manage and direct your entire bridal party can save a lot of precious time. Whereas filmmaking requires an eye for framing detail and action shots as they unfold naturally along with a lot of post wedding editing. With photography, it’s important to find a someone capable of doing everything themselves whereas filmmaking requires a collaborative team that have the experience, equipment, and cohesiveness necessary to seamlessly propel your film through the different production phases. With such a disparity between the two skill sets, would you want one person or company doing both? Only if you want your light switch to turn on your shower!

We do offer drone coverage pending venue permission and the cooperation of the day’s weather. There are many factors that go into proper usage of a drone on your wedding for aerial shots. The increased popularity of drones has led to increased regulations alongside it. Some of these regulations may prevent the use of a drone at your ceremony or reception but it may be possible to use it during a photo stop to capture your entire wedding party in a beautiful outdoor setting. All of our drone operators are certified with experience filming at locations all over Chicago plus a variety of other destinations. We will work with you to find the best location and timing for drone coverage on your wedding day. Additional fees may apply.

It is completely normal for things to run behind and we do our best to make every accommodation to assure this is not a stressful part of your day. It starts in the planning stages of your video packaging to ensure that you have enough of a buffer in your video coverage so that our end time is 45min-1 hour after your last scheduled reception event. If new events occur after that you would like covered or schedule events run beyond that portion, we are almost always able to add coverage to your package. We have a built in 15-minute buffer so that if your coverage ends at 10pm and your bouquet toss doesn’t finish until 10:10pm, we are able to cover that for no additional charge as long as the event is initially covered in your schedule. If you’re interested in coverage beyond the 15-minute buffer, we can extend via overtime rates which are $200 per 30 minutes.

There can be a lot of sensitive content in your wedding film so it’s completely understandable to want to keep it private. We have a variety of options for this should you be interested: 1. Password-protect – We can add a unique password to each of your films we make available for streaming. This will still allow you to conveniently share a direct URL with family/friends but it will protect you in that only people who enter the correct password will be able to see your video. 2. Digital collection – We have the means to be able to share your entire set of films in your digital collection via a private login you create that allows you to decide how public/private you would like your films to be. You can choose to make the links public and post where you choose or you can keep them completely private to only you. 3. USB flash drive – You can choose to waive your right to a dedicated URL for your film and we can deliver all your 1080p HD films on a flash drive via USPS mail. You can then decide if you’d like to make copies for your family, post it online at that point, or keep it completely for your eyes only. Read more about our digital collection and delivery options.