advice on choosing your wedding video
Less is often more when it comes to choosing how long your film should be...
I often get asked for a documentary edit, lasting an hour or longer, and although I’m happy to provide whatever couples ask for, I often think this is driven by ‘FOMO’, fear of missing out on footage, rather than considering what length of film they’d actually watch.
So in this blog I’ll cover what to consider when choosing the length, and a guide to the often confusing and conflicting names given to different types of films when you’re looking.
What are the ingredients of the best wedding films?
Appropriate music that suits the pace of the video.
A pace that suits the couple's personality and the event.
Really interesting audio captured clearly.
A wide variety of high quality and attractive visuals.
And the 'X' factor...
An appropriate length for the target viewer.
Seamless transitions so you don't notice the edit.
A good flow to the story of the day.
A sense of anticipation so you want to see what happens next....
Questions for you...
important considerations for choosing how long your wedding video should be:
Who's the film for?
As a rough guide, the more people you expect to see it, and the less close they are to you, the shorter the film.
My experience is that longer films will only be watched by the couple and very close family, generally, especially those who can’t be present. If they do get watched again, people end up fast forwarding to the ‘interesting’ bits. I think this is a shame, as I like to make films that people want to watch again and love sharing with others.
Some weddings are fairly simple and short, maybe an elopement or a micro wedding, in which perhaps the choice is pretty clear - a highlights film or teaser, with a full ceremony film.
If you have a huge number or guests, a whole of different activities going on, a multicultural wedding with different ceremonies, then that would definitely justify a longer video, but to capture everything well, I'd recommend you have two shooters.
Where will your wedding film be seen?
If you plan on showing your film on social media or sharing via Whatsapp, then normally I'd recommend going for a short and sweet film that'll keep people's attention to the end - so anything betweeen 60 seconds to a maximum of 5 minutes.
If you expect it to be viewed on a television or computer by close family, who can't be present, then I'd recommend a feature film or full ceremony and/or full speeches videos.
Different videographers using the same term to mean completely different things, which can get quite confusing at times! So the important thing is to actually check the length in minutes, or see a description of the content of what the videographer is offering, to be sure you’re getting what you want.
What lengths of films are there?
Film lengths and names explained...
Highlights are just that— the best shots of the day, as well as the most romantic (and flattering) clips of you as a couple. Mine are generally between 5 to 6 minutes long, and may include one full licensed music track, either instrumental or with vocals, depending on whether or not I'm including audio from your day. I offer the option to add on extra minutes to extend the highlights to say, 10 minutes, instead.
Many videographers only provide a music overlay, with no ambient sound or actual audio from the day. I prefer to include these to give more impact to the film.
My feature films last between 20-25 minutes long and are edited using story-telling cinematic shots and techniques to produce a ‘movie-like’ film. This is the most intensive and expensive wedding film to produce, as to make a really good feature film, footage is edited so the key events flow and hold the viewer’s interest throughout. They can be edited in a linear or non-linear way.
Some videographers use this term in place of a documentary edit film (usually 60 to 90 minutes). However, a documentary edit will normally show everything in chronological order and in ‘real-time’.
Again, this is all the speeches, with multiple angles, and all the audio. I often include additional clips (for example, the first dance or the dancing), as well as a music intro and outro.
It's generally around 30 minutes but it does depend on the length of the speeches. If the speeches last a lot longer than this, there may be an additional charge.
I provide all the ceremony, with more than one angle, and all the audio, and often include additional clips (for example, the arrival of guests and the bride and groom leaving, or portrait shots of you as a couple, as well as a music intro and outro.
It's generally around 30 minutes but this does depend on the length of the ceremony. Not all videographers offer this level of finish, so it's worth checking this out.
Teaser or Trailer
Traditional a 'teaser' or a 'trailer' film is supposed to be a short that entices the viewer to see the longer film, but this often in wedding filming, this term is used to describe a shorter film of the wedding—usually a minute or less, sometimes up to two minutes.
Most videographers don't include ambient sound with this film; it's a music montage. As well as offering this option, I can provide these with ambient and actual audio, and make them real 'trailers' for the main film.
Also known as the 'doc edit'. This is a very traditional film, and most videographers describe these as lasting between 60 to 90 minutes. It's almost always in chronological order, and includes all the vows and the speeches from the day, as well as clips from the bridal prep, the first dance and cake cut and the evening celebrations.
If you opt for this, I do recommend a second shooter to have more variety of camera angles for this edit, in addition to my 2 or 3 angles.
My equivalent of 'raw footage' but with value added. The length depends on the event but you can expect this to be 1.5 hours or more.
Now this is basically all the good footage available from the day, used and unused, with the full ceremony and full speeches, and laid on the timeline in chronological order. So you’ll have the best audio from the day, as well as all the footage. Perfect if you suffer from 'FOMO' and can't bear the thought of there being footage you haven't seen.
If there is enough footage that hasn't been used in your films, to make a 'FOMO' edit, I'll let you know, and you have the option of choosing this edit later on down the line.
The untouched footage. All the moving around, the blurred shots, when refocusing, the waiting around for stuff to happen, people standing in front of the camera, the running to get to position, the photographer’s instructions to the couple, or maybe them setting up ladders etc.
Audio may be non-existent, or separate, and video may be in different formats that you may not be able to open, no colour correction, no colour grading. And the file size is huge.
Personally, I don’t know why anyone would want the mess of raw footage unless they are a professional video editor and they want to edit their own wedding.
My videographer was there for 10 hours... why is my film only 25 minutes long?
In movies, time is pretty meaningless. A 60 to 90 minute programme or film will often span months, if not decades of time, and involve months of planning, filming and editing before it's complete.
A wedding is a live event usually over one day. Videographers aim to get too much footage so they have more flexibility and creativity in the edit. It's about giving you a high quality film that will capture your attention and transport you emotionally. Too many clips can lead to an aimless and sometimes confusing film.
Less really is more - gorgeous shots with purpose which flow into the next part of the story, so that you're captivated by your own story.
Got more questions before you decide?
Feel free to get in touch if you do!
Ultimately only you know how long a video you want. Remember you can usually buy more videos after the event.
If there were amazing speeches that brought tears to your eyes, then a feature film or a full speeches film could be just perfect for you.
Equally you might decide that you want more of a focus on the ceremony, bridal preparation or the games and the dancing.
If you’re having a wedding in Covid-19 restrictions, you might opt for a full ceremony video and/or a highlights film.
Footage from this can be reused for the next video if you decide to have another occasion for the reception and possibly a blessing.