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Documentary VS Wedding film

I want to address one of the most common questions regarding the difference between documentary wedding films and the term “wedding films”. I am frequently asked this question by clients, friends and family, so perhaps I can offer an explanation for you to determine if this is something you need.

Here is an example of highlights from a wedding ceremony, because a documentary from ceremony would be an hour long.

Some resources that may help you out when deciding what you actually want:

Documentary Wedding Film

Documentary wedding film is exactly what the name says; it’s someone documenting your big day in a documentary style form. This style can include interviewing your guests, and sharing about your big day in a fun-loving way. Normally you do not get to see these videos in public, since they are more private.

Normal documentary style videos can be from 40 minutes to 3 hours long. They will typically include documentation about your day, guests, speeches and such. Imagine sitting down 20 years from now with your grandkids, and showing them how pretty you were in your youth, and let that flashback flow through your veins. That’s where the saying “wedding film is an investment” comes from.

It’s also common to have highlights and an Instagram trailer included in a documentary style package. These details are usually all agreed upon in the contract.

Wedding Film

Photo by Rino Engdal

Now that we have covered documentary styles, let’s talk about wedding film highlights. These films are no longer than 4 – 15 minutes. The length of the video all depends on your big day and the content you give the videographer.

When creating this type of wedding film, the videographer does not have a documentary style in mind. They’re thinking more about how to share your wedding day in a brief 10-minute window. So, we film cool things, details, all the speeches, ceremony and snippets from here and there. Then we take all the footage and throw it into a magical spinning ball, and voila, now we have something to work with. (No, it’s called editing.)

Example of highlights from a wedding I filmed some years ago

Video Style & Ideas

Photo by Rino Engdal

When booking a photographer for a wedding, a general understanding of the final product exists between both the client and photographer. They both understand the outcome will be wedding day photos. However, when it comes to wedding videography, video is one heck of a final product. This is because there is absolutely no general understanding because there are trillions of ways to edit a video. I have actually seen wedding filmed in the same style as “The Office”, and hard style wedding films etc.

Therefore, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what type of style you want for your wedding video. If you’re unsure which style you want, it’s absolutely fine. Most videographers should be able to help you out in regards to that, and if not, you can look up wedding videos on YouTube until you find a video you really like to share the style with your videographer.

Color palette is the color style, and I recommend figuring out the video-profile you want to go for in advance. You want to have consistency between all the cameras. Personally, I go for either log, or cine profile.


Even if you’re not sure which type of video style is best for your wedding, I recommend having a meeting with the videographer via telephone, video chat or in person to explore which option best fits your needs and desires

Arrange a “get to know each other” meeting- the last thing you want to do is try and get to know them in the middle of wedding chaos. The same applies to the client, it’s so important the you and the videographer get together to plan and discuss expectations

Telling a story about someone who you don’t know can be hard because we’re not familiar with you. Are you the emotional type, the rocker, the funny one, or the one who just wants to document the day for the future flashbacks and memories?

This is the magic, there isn’t a right answer. It just depends on your taste, the style you want, and how comfortable the videographer is to re-create the vision in your head into a film.

It’s also common when some clients only want video and no dialogue, such as a wedding I documented back in 2020.

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