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Weddings

A Guide To Drone Wedding Photography

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Drones are remote-controlled helicopters that come in all shapes and sizes.

Typically, they have very powerful cameras (like a GoPro) strapped to them. Drones are also known as "unmanned aircraft." And couples are increasingly looking to make them a part of their weddings.

The bad: Drones are noisy and, in the wrong hands, potentially dangerous.

The good: Photography drones produce beautiful, cinematic aerial shots. These remote-controlled quadcopters offer a macro view of your wedding that no one gets to see.

Bonus extra: Even Martha's into drones.

If you're considering wedding drone photography, heed these tips before taking flight.

1. First, make sure drones are allowed in your venue's area.

Kristy Ryan / Via blushweddingphotography.org

Kristy Ryan of Blush Wedding Photography, who uses a drone for both wedding day and engagement shoots, told BuzzFeed Life: "Policies are always changing." Drones are banned at all major National Parks and some cities don't permit flying over private property.

The FAA is releasing an app this summer called B4UFLY that will tell you if there are "unmanned aircraft" flying restrictions based on your location. For now, this FAQ page is a good resource.

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2. Wineries and private estates are prime venues for drone photography.

Sigmund and Mariane Reboquio / Via reb6studios.com

That's according to wedding videographers Sigmund and Mariane Reboquio of Reb6studios. They told BuzzFeed Life that some venues just "yell for an aerial shot." The opening footage from a gorgeous Malibu wedding video (below) is an example.

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3. Prices can range from $200 for one hour to a flat $700+ fee.

Sigmund & Mariane Reboquio / Via reb6studios.com

Reb6Studios charges couples a flat fee: $700 and up for wedding video with drone services as an add-on. Others charge by the hour. Arid Productions, a Phoenix-based studio, prices their videos at $200 for the first hour of shooting and $75 for every hour after that.

Some photographers, like Chris Geiger ($1,695 and up for video only) and Blush Wedding Photography ($4,900 for complete wedding day photography), include drone shots as a standard part of their wedding package.

4. Drones are sometimes a good distraction.

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"From our experience, most guests are amazed by it," Sigmund of Reb6Studios told BuzzFeed Life. "They actually approach us and ask us to take selfies with it. The drone becomes an instant celebrity."

5. That being said: keep flight time to a minimum or shoot at a very high altitude.

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Reb6studios has a 10 minute cap for drone flying, and the videographers will only shoot while music is playing during the procession. The most-requested aerial shot is of the bride walking down the aisle.

You could also opt for a high-altitude drone shot (like the one shown in this Facebook video) captured while guests are enjoying the reception.

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6. Consider the environment. Wide, open spaces are better.

Kristy Ryan / Via blushweddingphotography.org

Ryan told BuzzFeed Life that, for drone shots, simple backgrounds are more attractive. Plus, shooting in open spaces is also good for safety.

As a rule of thumb, Ryan said, "We will never shoot in the city and never in larger populated areas. People think [drones] are toys, but they can be very dangerous." She also advises couples to check if their photographer is insured in the rare case that they do hurt someone or something.

8. Aerial shots take time to set up.

Kristy Ryan / Via blushweddingphotography.org

Between setting up the take-off area to double checking that the batteries are charged to ensuring that the drone's camera has a solid WiFi connection, the set-up process can be very tedious.

"The couple has to make sure they have the time in their schedule to make a drone shoot worth it," Ryan said.

9. Drones are something your gadget-enthusiast partner can get excited about.

Kristy Ryan / Via blushweddingphotography.org

If he or she isn't exactly thrilled about planning every detail of the wedding, having a drone shoot may be something your fiancé(e) can be psyched about.

Ryan's husband built the three drones displayed in their studio himself, and said tech-y partners light up when they see it.

10. For destination weddings, aerial footage can give your wedding video a good sense of the surrounding city.

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Check out Portugual-based studio VIP Weddings for ideas on how to capture the landscape via drone.

11. Aerial photography isn't limited to drones.

Mikaela Ruth / Via mikaelaruth.com

Mikaela of Mikaela Ruth Photography jumped aboard the groom's father's helicopter for this shot.

Realistically, your photographer won't have access to a helicopter, but if you want the look of an aerial photo, a photographer may be able to climb the peak of a nearby hill, get access to rooftop, or use a ladder to get that macro top-down image.

12. You could also – *gasp* – get your own drone.

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If you (or someone in your wedding party) is a talented remote control pilot, buying your own drone may be more affordable than hiring a photographer to get the same footage. But you'll have to edit it yourself.

The most popular photography quadcopter, the DJI Phantom 2, ranges from $859 to $1169.

The cheaper Phantom 2 comes with a mount for your GoPro, while the more expensive Phantom 2 Vision Plus includes a 14MP, 1080p camera aboard.

For those with non-Phantom aircraft, B & H Photo has a good guide on what accessories (stabilizing gimbals, etc.) you'll need to set up your own photography drone.

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