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What Is Wedding Cinematography?

Wedding cinematography captures your special day in a cinematic style, weaving together stunning visuals, crisp audio, and artful editing to tell your love story. It's more than a video; it's a film starring you. Ready to see how your wedding can be transformed into a timeless movie? Let's explore the magic behind the lens.
Valerie Goldberg
Valerie Goldberg

Wedding cinematography is the art of documenting a wedding on film. Some couples may choose to use wedding cinematography only during the ceremony, while other couples may use it during the entire event, including the reception and any other pre- and post-ceremony activities. Good wedding cinematography will involve the proper use of lighting, various camera angles and solid editing.

While many people may have a friend with a video camera who offers to shoot the wedding, professional wedding cinematography will utilize several cameras and angles to capture as many parts of the wedding as possible. The various films will later be edited together by the wedding cinematographer or a member of his or her staff. Couples may want captions added to the video with the names of guests on the bottom, the name of the venue or different quotes about love. Much like professional wedding photography, the film editing process takes time, so the wedding video likely will not be ready until after the couple returns from the honeymoon.

Cinematography contracts should cover the date and location of a wedding.
Cinematography contracts should cover the date and location of a wedding.

One thing that separates wedding cinematography from that friend with the video camera is lighting. It can be especially important when a wedding is held in a place with low light, such as a candlelit church. A wedding cinematographer typically will set up lighting to enhance the video quality, taking care not to ruin the atmosphere of the wedding venue and the mood sought by the couple by making it look too much like a movie set.

A wedding cinematographer may film the reception.
A wedding cinematographer may film the reception.

Wedding cinematography companies can offer many types of videos. A typical wedding video may cover everything that happened on the wedding day, from beginning to end. Some couples also may want special touches added. These can include clips of wedding guests offering their best wishes the newly married couple or the inclusion of photos or videos from the couple’s courtship. Pictures of the bride and groom, starting in childhood and spanning various stages of their life, also may be included.

Wedding cinematography might include a video created from still photographs.
Wedding cinematography might include a video created from still photographs.

Taking that idea one step further, many wedding cinematography companies offer what is know as a love story video. This type of film captures a couple talking on camera about how they met and fell in love. Pictures of the couple together may be edited in and music added. This video often is played at engagement parties, bridal showers and rehearsal dinners.

Video cameras can be used to document a wedding.
Video cameras can be used to document a wedding.

While cinematographers have joined photographers on the list of must-haves for many weddings, not every couple can afford professional wedding cinematography. That’s where the friend with the video camera may come in. Another viable option is to hire a college film student. College juniors and seniors majoring in film often have access to top-notch camera and editing equipment and likely won’t charge as much as established cinematographers would.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between wedding videography and wedding cinematography?

Lighting is an important aspect to wedding cinematography for a church wedding, as churches aren't always well lit.
Lighting is an important aspect to wedding cinematography for a church wedding, as churches aren't always well lit.

Wedding videography typically involves a straightforward recording of the event, capturing the day as it happens, often in a documentary style. In contrast, wedding cinematography is more akin to filmmaking, with a focus on storytelling, artistic angles, and creative editing to produce a movie-like experience. Cinematographers use advanced techniques such as aerial shots with drones, steadicams, and sliders to create a dynamic and emotionally engaging film.

How much does wedding cinematography cost on average?

Hiring a professional wedding cinematographer can be expensive, but worth it to have proper documentation of the big day.
Hiring a professional wedding cinematographer can be expensive, but worth it to have proper documentation of the big day.

The cost of wedding cinematography can vary widely depending on factors such as location, experience of the cinematographer, and the scope of the project. On average, couples in the United States might expect to spend anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 for a professional wedding cinematographer. However, prices can go much higher for top-tier services or additional features like same-day edits or multi-day coverage.

What should I look for when choosing a wedding cinematographer?

Wedding cinematography can be performed by an amateur for couples on a tight budget.
Wedding cinematography can be performed by an amateur for couples on a tight budget.

When selecting a wedding cinematographer, consider their portfolio to ensure their style matches your vision. Look for reviews and testimonials from previous clients to gauge their reliability and professionalism. It's also important to discuss their approach to filming, such as how they plan to capture key moments without being intrusive. Lastly, ensure they have a clear contract outlining what is included, such as the number of hours, number of shooters, and delivery format.

How long after the wedding does it typically take to receive the final wedding film?

The turnaround time for a final wedding film can vary, but it typically ranges from a few weeks to several months. The complexity of the editing process and the cinematographer's workload can affect this timeline. It's common for cinematographers to provide a timeframe in their contract, with an average of 4 to 6 months for delivery of the final product.

Can I request specific shots or a particular style for my wedding film?

Yes, most wedding cinematographers welcome input from the couple to ensure the final film reflects their preferences. It's a good idea to discuss any specific shots, themes, or styles you desire during the planning stages. Providing examples of wedding films you admire can also help the cinematographer understand your vision. Communication is key to ensuring that the end result aligns with your expectations.

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    • Cinematography contracts should cover the date and location of a wedding.
      By: detailblick
      Cinematography contracts should cover the date and location of a wedding.
    • A wedding cinematographer may film the reception.
      By: shotsstudio
      A wedding cinematographer may film the reception.
    • Wedding cinematography might include a video created from still photographs.
      By: goodluz
      Wedding cinematography might include a video created from still photographs.
    • Video cameras can be used to document a wedding.
      By: Kurhan
      Video cameras can be used to document a wedding.
    • Lighting is an important aspect to wedding cinematography for a church wedding, as churches aren't always well lit.
      By: Riccardo Meloni
      Lighting is an important aspect to wedding cinematography for a church wedding, as churches aren't always well lit.
    • Hiring a professional wedding cinematographer can be expensive, but worth it to have proper documentation of the big day.
      By: Haider Y. Abdulla
      Hiring a professional wedding cinematographer can be expensive, but worth it to have proper documentation of the big day.
    • Wedding cinematography can be performed by an amateur for couples on a tight budget.
      By: tayindigo
      Wedding cinematography can be performed by an amateur for couples on a tight budget.