No wedding is ever perfect. The childhood dreams, the anxious engagement, the months of planning are all put to the test right up to that (hopefully) magical walk down the aisle. But for Jon Armendariz and his studio NewYorkFilmworks, it’s not about the magic—it’s about authenticity. Lucky for him, his video of The Plaza Hotel's first gay wedding captures both, captivating gay viewers with its quality and delicacy. We caught up with the Big Apple filmmaker for advice on how gay couples should film their weddings—how one life-changing day can tell the story of a lifelong love.
Out: What are your best tips for couples interested in filming their weddings?
Jon Armendariz: As difficult as it may seem, it's important to remain calm on the day of your wedding. No editing software exists to change your facial expressions in the video. A frantic bride or groom comes across frantic in the film.
Be realistic in the time you have allotted for everything from morning preparations to the photo and video sessions.
Be different. Find ways to incorporate your story as a couple and your personalities in your wedding. Adding a little twist or personalizing some aspects will make your wedding stand out. For example, a particularly moving part of Jason and Tony's wedding was their personally written vows to one another.
The Plaza Hotel is an iconic New York attraction. What was it like working in the space?
It was an honor to create this wedding video in such an iconic New York location. However, the location doesn't necessarily change my approach to creating each wedding. My goal with each film is to tell the couple's particular story with the beautiful setting as a backdrop. For me, the primary focus is always on the couple and their story.
Viewers have really responded to Jason and Tony’s video. What about their story did you most want to highlight with the short film?
Viewer responses to Jason and Tony's video have been amazing. I really wanted to highlight this family's joy of finally making it official. I wanted viewers to see beyond any abstract notions and get a true glimpse of what a gay family is. I particularly wanted to highlight the reaction of Jason's son during the ceremony, which was particularly moving. The sight of a little boy crying tears of joy during the wedding vows is possibly the most visceral reaction I've seen in any wedding film.
You seemed to pay a lot of attention to Jason and his son—while they were getting ready and during the ceremony. Any reason why they stood out to you?
Jason and his son happened to be getting ready in the same room, while his daughter was getting ready with Tony and the bridesmaids. Jason and his son's interactions were poignant on their own. However, I felt it was an essential lead-in to his emotional reaction during the vows.
Gay weddings are still foreign territory for the wedding business. Do you see any difference between filming a gay wedding and a straight one? Did it influence how you approached filming the wedding?
The simple answer is no. Regardless of sexual orientation, my team and I focused on the couple's story first and foremost.
With so much political activity, any gay video gets a lot of attention—especially if it goes viral. Do you think gay couples should be sharing their videos on the web? Should the public response be a consideration for gay couples wanting to record their ceremony?
I see no reason why a gay couple should go without a wedding film. I also don't see any reason why a gay couple should have to consider the public response in wanting to record or share their wedding film. A wedding film can be as public or private as the couple chooses. As with any couple, a wedding film is a means to relive an important day—to hear your vows, see the reactions of your loved ones, and experience your wedding day over again.
WATCH: Jason and Tony's wedding at The Plaza Hotel