What Makes A Great Wedding Film?

Making a wedding film is so much more than just having someone with a video camera show up and point it at you throughout your day and put the pieces together. Even a documentary style without any staged moments can have the quality and content of the finished film be vastly different from another film by even the same filmmaker depending on what happens during the day and a number of other factors. Below are five things you can do during the planning stages and on the day of your wedding to ensure you have an amazing film.

Make sure you tell the whole story

This sounds obvious, but a lot of couples book a videographer for an arbitrary amount of time. Many times it comes down to money, or however long they booked the photographer for, and not a smart creative decision. Many times, couples decide they don’t need the videographer for the bridal or groom prep. Or perhaps they decide not to keep the videographer around for all the important pieces of the reception. This creates a situation with incomplete storytelling. 

Every great story has a meaningful beginning, middle, and end. Think of your favorite movies and books – perhaps Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, or Harry Potter. Or maybe something like the Notebook or Pride and Prejudice is more your speed. Regardless of your taste in literature and movies, every one of those great stories has a clear start to introduce us to the characters we’ll grow to love and care about. Every one has a clear middle, and a clear and exciting conclusion.

If you want your wedding film to be the BEST it can possibly be, it needs these elements. In our early years of shooting wedding films, we had a lot of couples only book us for the ceremony and reception. We missed the beginning of their story – and jumped right into the middle of the action without having a sense of who this couple was and building up the anticipation to the biggest moment of their day.  Conversely, we’d have couples who had us leave early in the reception. We missed the climax of the day – rather that was garter and bouquet, open dancing, or a sparkler exit. How unsatisfying would it be if Harry Potter ended before Voldemort’s defeat? Or if Frodo was still walking to Mount Doom in final chapter of Lord of the Rings. The story would leave you disappointed. 

If you’re unsure how long you need your videographer for, and what will be important to telling a complete story, ask them for advice. 

Compelling Audio

Many people don’t consider how important audio is to their wedding film. Audio in a wedding film isn’t just a song in the background – at least not in a compelling wedding film. Rather, it consists of audio from the ceremony, from the speeches, and other moments throughout the day. This is the audio that tells the emotional story that is being played out in the video. Many couples never even consider how significant this will be the final feel of their film.

At Focused Story Films, we typically take audio from several places in the wedding day to craft the final film:

Ceremony

An obvious choice to use audio is the ceremony. Unfortunately, not all ceremonies are created equally. Some ceremonies are long. Some are short. Some couples use custom vows, others do not. Some churches have specific rules and traditions that don’t create compelling audio (or even prohibit or make getting good audio challenging). It’s important to consider a number of factors in getting great audio of your ceremony.

 If you’re getting married in a church – particularly a more liturgical church with more traditions and rules – talk to your pastor or priest about wearing a microphone that your videographer will put on them, to record their audio very clearly. If they’re not caught off guard, most clergymen (and women) will be very open to helping you get great audio for your video. They may even have ways for your videographer to plug directly into their sound system to capture an additional source of audio so they can get the clearest possible sound for the video. 

Another HIGHLY important thing to consider with audio is custom vows. The difference in emotional connectivity in your video with custom vows versus traditional vows cannot be overstated. Custom vows are highly personal, and convey who you are as a couple. They can be funny, serious, emotional, or lighthearted, but they always will communicate much more about your relationship than traditional vows – and that will make your film so much better. 

Speeches

Another huge place that we draw audio from at Focused Story Films is the speeches. Unfortunately, much like ceremonies, not all speeches are created equal. Knowing your friends, and knowing who will give a good speech versus a bad speech is important. The best speeches, from a wedding film perspective, avoid long rambling anecdotes, copious inside jokes, and inappropriate stories from college. Meaningful, beautiful words about the couple, and emotional moments between the speech giver and couple are always ideal for a film. Although as a couple you can’t necessarily tell your maid of honor, best man, father, mother or sibling what to say, explain that it’s important for the video that at least part of their speech be meaningful and memorable. 

Unfortunately in 2018, we had about a quarter of our weddings completely forgo any kind of speeches – which is even more challenging than bad speeches. If you have a traditional ceremony without a lot of very personal words spoken, and no speeches at the reception, it leaves very little audio for the final film, which forces a music video style film, that, while beautiful, is less personal than it could be. 

Letter Reading

This is a fairly new practice 

First Looks

Letters to Each other

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Custom Vows