Chances are, when you think of a wedding video, you think of your parents’ video that you watched when you were a child. It was probably a dusty old VHS featuring a marathon video that spanned multiple hours and required several tea breaks to get through. Well that’s not really how wedding films are done any more…
These days, shorter wedding films are much more popular. These can range in length (anywhere from 5-30 minutes) and are often called different things (a ‘highlight film’, a ‘feature film’, or something else entirely) depending on the videographer. There really are no rules, which makes matters a bit confusing.
This is something you should take into consideration when choosing a videographer: what kind of video do you want? Do you want a 30 minute video? Do you only want a 5 minute video? Or do you want a 2 hour video showing everything from the day?
I can’t help you make that decision, but I can tell you about my approach and why I’ve chosen to focus on making short films.
The AK Films approach
The starting point for all my weddings is a Highlight Film lasting anywhere from 5-7 minutes. This is a short, creative edit. It tells the story of your entire day, from getting ready until dancing, featuring footage from throughout. The shots may not be in chronological order, but that’s because they’re designed to evoke as much emotion as possible. In a nutshell, the Highlight Film is intended to make you feel as though you’re right back in that aisle all over again; like you can almost taste the champagne, almost feel the confetti falling on your skin. This isn’t just about shot order though; I also use a combination of instrumental music and vocal audio from your day (speeches, vows etc.) to really recreate those feels from your wedding day.
In addition to the Highlight Film, I also offer the option of adding a video of your full ceremony, or a video of all of your speeches. If you want to see even more, then I do also offer a Long Film that’s reminiscent of that video your parents had. The Long Film I offer includes all the usable footage I capture on the day, from prep to dancing, condensed into a chronological film. This can be anywhere from 1-2 hours, depending on your wedding.
5-7 minutes: The perfect length?
So why did I choose to make my Highlight Films 5-7 minutes long? Well, actually, I didn’t. It just sort of happened that way. I’m trying to tell the story of your day, and that’s what dictates the length. I would never want to cut a great story short due to time constraints, and, equally, I would never want to dilute a story just to reach a minimum length. In my experience, a film will usually need to be longer than 5 minutes, but rarely longer than 7 minutes, and somewhere between that is the sweet spot that will allow me to tell your story in the most beautiful way.
Less is more
You may still be thinking that 2 hours is better than 6 minutes. I would argue that this depends on your priorities and what you want from your wedding film. Do you just want everything captured, or do you want to relive the day? Do you want an account of your wedding, or do you want an experience?
Another downside to a long film is that it’s impossible to share online. It’s so long that the file size ends up being huge, making both uploading and streaming really difficult. Moreover, why would you want to share it? Nobody (with the exception of your gran, who most likely can’t figure out how to watch it online anyway) wants to sit down and watch a full rendition of your wedding day. And to be completely honest, you probably don’t either…
Let me ask you something: Do you remember the first time that your parents dusted off that video tape and made you sit and watch their wedding? I’m sure it was magical. Maybe the second time was pretty cool too. But the third? Chances are, you were bored out of your mind. And your parents may have been too! Whilst it’s nice to have all of that footage just in case you ever want to see it in its entirety, the reality is that it’s a bit of a pain to watch. Even though it’s your wedding day, I know couples whose weddings I filmed last year that have still not watched their Long Films.
On the other hand, you’ll likely watch your Highlight Film again and again; I’m often told by couples that they ‘can’t stop watching’ their Highlight Film. I think a component of that is just how easy it is to watch. You get to see, hear and feel the best parts of your day whenever you want.
All that being said, I fully appreciate that it can be nice to sit down and watch the whole day again, which is why I offer the option of adding the Long Film. One couple I filmed last year turned the viewing into a date night and watched their long film over a bottle of wine (there’s an idea for you).
You may be worried that the Highlight Film will miss things from your day, and this is true. But that’s okay! Before the wedding, I always ask you what and who is most important to you. That way, I can ensure you don’t miss anything or anyone that you wanted to see. Another bonus is that you don’t have to wade through 50 shots of people you felt obliged to invite but don’t actually like very much! And if you’re still worried about missing bits, you’ve also got the option of the Long Film…
Ultimately, shorter films are quickly becoming the norm because they simply deliver a better viewing experience. Watching your Highlight Film will make you feel the kind of feelings that simply can’t be stretched out over a two-hour video. That being said, it is undeniably nice to have that Long Film too. Maybe you won’t want to watch it for years to come, but one day you’ll get the urge. And what better way of torturing the grandkids than forcing them to watch a full account of your wedding day?