NEW YORK - It’s easy for the line between Hollywood and real life to blur when you’re watching wedding videos on the Love Stories TV website.
Between the dramatic, swooping aerial shots of outdoor vistas, and romantic, candlelit sequences of couples tastefully canoodling, modern-day wedding videos have become full-fledged movie productions.
There are couples strolling through sunny (but not too sunny) open pastures, others posing in loving embrace on a deserted beach at sunset, lovers walking hand-in-hand through a moody and mysterious (but not ominous) forest. Love is interpreted in a multitude of ways here, but always with the highest production values and cinematography rivaling that of films on the big screen.
"I was thinking this is the best content I’ve ever seen," says Rachel Silver, CEO and founder of Love Stories TV. "It’s real people, real stories, but professional production."
WATCH THE VIDEO:
Love Stories TV is not technically a TV channel, but an online platform for watching and sharing professionally produced wedding videos.
Idea for site
The idea for Love Stories came to Silver after talking to female co-workers who recounted falling down a proverbial rabbit hole of watching wedding videos with their girlfriends, after a night out. Most couldn’t recall how they found the videos.
"They were like, ‘Well, I don’t really know. Maybe I would see my older sister’s friends and then watch more from that filmmaker, but we didn’t really know where to go to watch them,'" Silver says of the videos. "That was the insight where we were like, oh, this would be really powerful for people who are watching these films for fun ... but also people planning their wedding,” she adds.
Silver claims the site has amassed thousands of wedding films from around the world. The videos are submitted by newlyweds or filmmakers, who also share additional details about the vendors, such as videographers, caterers and florists.
Popular wedding planning websites like The Knot and Style Me Pretty offer more comprehensive information on wedding planning, but neither focus solely on wedding videos or use them as an entertainment vehicle. Videographers typically publish their work on their own websites and wedding websites where customers can leave reviews.
"Someone recently called us Netflix for wedding videos and that’s really powerful," Silver says.
Posting to the site
Karly Carrow, who married last December, says she had no qualms about posting her wedding video to Love Stories TV.
“I think it took me 30 seconds to click ‘Submit Video,’” Carrow says. “I wanted to make things easier for other brides, other couples.”
Carrow says posting publicly was about “giving credit where credit was due.” She hopes viewers watching her wedding video will glean ideas and be inspired to make their wedding their own.
“I think a lot of people struggle with the decision to actually budget in video to their wedding,” she adds. “Hopefully, they’ll be inspired to spend the money and understand the importance and the value in the long run.”
So who exactly is tuning in? And is there really an audience for the wedding videos of strangers?
Silver says that the audience skews young and female and that watching wedding videos is akin to watching reality TV shows like ABC’s "The Bachelor," which many have grown up viewing.
“What I always say about these films is that they just happen to be at a wedding,” Silver says. “It’s about the love story. Inevitably in a wedding film, it comes out how you met, how you fell in love. ... They interview the friends and the family members, so you walk away with just this overwhelming sense of joy and an interest in other people and their family.”
Besides the entertainment value, Love Stories TV may prove helpful when it comes to wedding planning — listing the venues, makeup artists, dressmakers and more depicted in each video, which are searchable by location, religion, culture and even sexual orientation.
Looking for a rustic, Bohemian-style Muslim wedding on a ranch? Or a gay-friendly, five-star beach setting with Latin vibes? You’ll find both on the site.
For those in the wedding business, the platform is the chance to showcase their wares in real life, albeit highly stylized versions of real life.
“You could go out as a marketer and try to stage actors to show off your products ... but that’s not the same as a groomsman giving an epic speech wearing your suit and making everyone cry,” Silver says. “You’re trying to get that emotional connection with your products and nothing really can do that like a wedding film.”
Silver eventually plans to offer a targeted marketing service for vendors, who can pay a monthly subscription fee to reach viewers. Branded partnerships are also part of Love Stories TV’s business model. The startup has partnered with companies like menswear e-tailer Bonobos.
Spur for business
Jennifer Thompson works for wedding videography company NST Pictures and says the website has helped spur her business.
“It’s a great place for us to contribute our work, get it in front of more potential clients,” Thompson says.
Cynics may roll their eyes at the self-congratulatory couples, but Silver contends that the videos are no different from submitting your wedding announcements to The New York Times or Town & Country magazine.
She regrets passing up the chance to have her own wedding documented and argues that these milestone moments are rare.
“All of their family and friends and the people they love the most are surrounding them and that only happens to you a handful of times in your entire life,” Silver says.
All the more reason perhaps, to preserve the moment for posterity ... or late-night binge-watching.