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How long should your wedding video be?

There are so many different names, types and styles of wedding films on the market, it can get really quite confusing, as definitions can vary between different videographers. So I’ve put together a guide to the different types of films that are available, including the ones that I offer so you can see and decide exactly what you want.

Regardless of who you choose to film your wedding, remember your contract should clearly state the types of films you’ll receive as well as an estimate of how long they will be. If it doesn’t, I would strongly recommend you check this and get this included in your contract so there’s no disappointment or misunderstanding either side.

So how long do you want your films to be? Here are the different types, from shortest to the longest, together with links to examples:

Flash Films (aka Flashback Films)

This is a short and fast film, made up of very short clips from throughout the day, and will be around 30 to 60 seconds long and ideal for showing off on Instagram, or as an intro to your feature film or extended highlights film. It’s the video equivalent of flicking through a photo album really fast and it comes with a music overlay that is licensed for social media sharing.

They’re fast, exciting and are perfect for some weddings and couples who like a faster pace of video. Click above for an example. I offer these and teaser or trailer films as an add-on extra to the main wedding film.

Teaser or Trailer films

The length of each individual clip in these films will be longer than in a flash film. Teasers are also very short films of your wedding day, but usually focus on part of your day (e.g. the bridal preparation) whereas a trailer is likely to include clips from throughout the whole day. They generally  come with just a music overlay that’s licensed for social media, but they may include ambient sounds and talking instead of or as well as the music. The clips will also normally appear within your highlight, extended highlight or feature film as well. Teaser and trailer films can be put together pretty quickly, often within 48 hours of the wedding, so if you want something immediately, while you’re waiting for the main edit, the teaser, trailer and/or the flash film are great choices.

Highlight films

The length of highlight films varies between videographer but the highlight films I provide are generally between 3 and 5 minutes long and include one full licensed music track, usually with female or male vocals, or instrumental, depending on the style of your wedding. From my observation, most videographers only provide the music overlay, with no ambient sound or audio (speech). My highlight films include ambient sounds where they work well with the music, to give a more realistic feel, and also audio when it fits in well with the video.

Highlights are just that – I choose what I feel are the best shots from the day, as well as the most romantic (and flattering) clips of you as a couple. They’re ideal for sharing on social media e.g on Facebook as they focus on the most interesting parts of the day they’re short enough for friends and family to watch and enjoy them all the way through.

Extended Highlights

If you choose an extended highlights film, this will generally be around 8 to 10 minutes long, exceptionally it may be 14-15 minutes long and will normally include between 2 or 3 tracks of licensed music, as well as audio and ambient sound from the day. If you’re choosing a film for absent friends and family, I’d recommend either choosing an extended highlights or a feature film, so they get a stronger feel for the atmosphere of the day.

The Feature Film

A feature film lasts around 30 minutes long and is edited using story-telling cinematic shots and techniques to produce a ‘movie-like’ film that you and your children and grandchildren will treasure in the years to come. This is the most intensive and expensive wedding film to produce, as to make a really good feature film, the edit has to be cut so it holds the viewer’s interest throughout.

Full Ceremony and Vows

This film is generally around 30 minutes, give or take a bit, and includes the entire ceremony from the arrival of the bride, the complete vows, any readings or sermons, and finishing with the couple’s walk down the aisle after getting married. I generally use two or more cameras for the ceremony, and will pick the best angles, and sync these with the audio from the groom and the celebrant to get the best sound.

https://vimeo.com/354919901

Full Speeches

These films are as long as the speeches, but like the ceremony and vows, I use at least two cameras to capture the speeches and will pick the best angles and sync these with the audio captured from each speaker using professional audio equipment. 

https://vimeo.com/354507426

The Documentary Edit 

This is the long (and I mean really long) version of your wedding, generally from around 60 to 90 minutes long and it will include moments from bridal prep, the groomsmen getting ready, the full ceremony, and all the reception highlights, including full speeches, first dances, cake cutting, bouquet toss, and anything else you organised for the day. Although it’s an edited video, it’s won’t be as polished as the other types of films as you can’t avoid including camera turns and shakes, especially if there’s a single shooter, aiming to capture everything. It doesn’t generally include any additional overlay music other than the music that was played on the day, but it includes ambient and also any recorded audio from the day, which will also be optimised and synced with the video.

Nowadays I feel the traditional documentary edit has had its day, and is no longer that popular, as it’s really too long a film to impose on your family and friends, even if they weren’t able to make it, and most people I know who have this type of video fast forward to the best bits anyway. 

As the music is unlikely to be licensed (without paying the earth) for it, these edits are intended for private viewing at home by the couple; if you put these on social media or YouTube you risk getting a copyright strike.

Pre-shoots and ‘Save the Date’ films

These are additional shoots before the wedding, which can be cut to make a unique ‘Save the Date’ wedding invite to share with your guests before the big day or to film footage in order to craft a truly cinematic wedding film.

I love these shoots as they’re an opportunity to shoot footage and record sound that will make your wedding video truly unique, by telling your story, when you’re feeling relaxed and without the pressure that you get on the day itself.  Examples could be of how you met, how the proposal, special messages to family and friends who can’t make it, special mentions of family history (e.g. if you’re getting married in the same place your mother or grandmother married in), the funny or memorable moments in your relationship so far…

Watch out for special offers as I sometimes offer these shoots free as part of your wedding package, especially if you have an interesting story to tell!

Sound or no sound?

I always record as much audio as I can, as you can never go back in time to get this again, and for me, sound is what makes your wedding film complete, and also completely unique. 

I use a variety of discreet recorders and lav mics, and the speakers usually forget pretty quickly that they’re wearing them within a few seconds!

The Sound of Music…

Sadly if you’re using a popular song for your first dance, or for your walk down the aisle, then unless you’ve got a few million quid to spare, you’re not going to be able to afford the licence to use the song on your wedding video. To compensate, I use quality recorded tracks which I purchase from respected music stock libraries, with or without vocals, for your films and I always aim to pick tracks which are in line with the style of the day or the music genre of your first dance.

A highlights film will normally be edited to one full track of between 3 and 5 minutes. Longer videos can use nine, ten or more tracks to add atmosphere, and will obviously cost more and I can provide you with the licences if you require them.

What should you get?

Only you know what type and length of video you would enjoy the most, but I would say if you have family and friends absent or overseas, or you’re having a fusion (mulitlingual) wedding, you definitely want a feature film, with added subtitles, as well as either a highlights, teaser or trailer film for Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. A flash film is great for making an impact on social media and giving a taste of what’s to come.

Hopefully this helps with deciding what type of film you want for your special day but if you have any questions or are looking for something I’ve not listed here, please do get in touch.

Or perhaps you’d like to head over to my Wedding Films page to see more examples of each type of film so you can decide what you want for your wedding? Or contact me to find out if I’m free for your wedding da

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