A couple’s wedding can be one of the biggest days in their life. Usually, all they will have to remember the important occasion are their memories, photos, and a wedding video. If you are hired to capture the latter, you will want to do your best to capture an amazing, cinematic wedding video. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of ten tips that will help you achieve this. We’ll take a look at how to prepare, what to bring, and ultimately how to film weddings with these ten tips. Let’s dive in. 

How to film weddings

1. Communication is key

To be an efficient and effective wedding cinematographer, communication is key. This means communicating with the key players in the wedding, first of which is the bride and groom. 

Well in advance of the big day, you will want to meet with the engaged couple to ask them questions and get a direction for the video. What do they expect from the video? What are the “must have” shots they want to see? Are there any surprises you should be ready to capture? 

These are just a few example questions you may want to ask. But what you really want to find out are what are the couple’s expectations for the video.

This will help you meet and even exceed them. For first-hand advice from a wedding videographer on how to approach a meeting with wedding clients, take a look at the video below. 

Meeting Wedding Clients  •  How to film weddings

You will also want to communicate with the wedding planner if there is one. What is the timeline of the ceremony and reception? This will help you be where you need to be to get the shot without having to scramble. 

You may also want to communicate with the management of the venue. Odds are they will have tips on great locations for you to shoot. 

How to film weddings

2. Shot list the “must have” shots

Once you’ve met with your wedding clients, you’ll have a better idea of what you need to get. Wedding cinematography is a combination of having a good eye for candid moments as well as being prepared and capturing the “must have” shots. When it comes to the latter, using tools like StudioBinder’s shot list software will help you best prepare for the big day.

Here's an example of wedding photographer shot list. Click the image to explore the full list and you can even download a PDF for future inspiration.

Wedding Shot List Template  •  Click to View Full Template

Having a shot list to reference will help you make sure that you haven’t missed any of the shots your clients will be expecting. The big kiss, bride walking down the aisle, the groom’s reaction are all big moments you cannot miss. Even the wedding prep will have “must have” shots you might want to shot list.

This video by Adorama has some great tips on what you need to capture from the bride and groom’s preparations. 

How to video a wedding  •  5 Wedding Video Shots

Even if you do not refer to the shot list on the day of the wedding, creating the shot list is great to have just in case and will help you visualize and remember the “must have” shots you need to get. 

How to film weddings

3. Weddings are a love story

One of the best ways to think about a wedding video is as a love story. Thinking in terms of story will guide you and direct you not only in how to edit the video, but how to shoot it as well. Getting great shots of the wedding preparations can create build up in the beginning of a video.

Capturing emotions and pivotal moments will also give the video a structure that makes it moving and engaging. Think of the most romantic scenes in film — what do they look and sound like? Study how those moments are put together and see if you can create a similar effect.

How to Film Weddings Create A Story

How to Film Weddings

One way to get yourself on the same page with the clients is to create a wedding mood board. This way, the overall vision can be established and agreed upon ahead of time.

How to video a wedding

4. Be prepared for all light conditions

One of the more equipment based tips is to be prepared for all light conditions. During the day, there might be harsh light if you are shooting outside. Indoor venues can also have very un-cinematic lighting. Having ND filters to cut light can help keep your aperture wide for a shallower depth of field and more cinematic look. 

As the reception goes on, daylight will fade and you will need to be prepared for limited light, especially for outdoor venues. Many DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have low light capabilities. Be sure to understand how well your camera will work in low light. Utilizing camera lenses with wide apertures will also help you in a low light situation. 

Using LED light kits or other video lights may be a good idea. But if you do use them, use them sparingly. The last thing you want to do is to kill the mood of the reception by blinding guests with your lights. That said, lights can make a huge difference in your shots. If you are on the market for the best lighting kit for wedding receptions, the video below is a great place to start and has some great tips for cinematic lighting. 

How to video a wedding  •  The Best Reception Lighting

If a lighting kit is a bit out of your budget or you do not want to bring them for your shoot, explore other lighting options. Sometimes the wedding DJ will have an interesting light setup. You can get creative with how you can incorporate their lighting into your shots. Silhouettes can also be cinematic when used creatively. 

How to do videography for weddings

5. Be fast and keep it light

Weddings move fast and there are always special moments occurring. While it’s impossible to be everywhere at once, you can definitely try. Being fast and keeping the gear you have light will help you move efficiently and effectively. 

You may want to bring a kit of five different prime lenses with you, but the odds that you will have time to constantly change your lens is slim. Having a good zoom lens in your kit will help cut down your load and will make you a more efficient videographer.

For a better idea of what essential equipment a wedding videographer should have, check out this equipment breakdown video.

How to film weddings  •  Camera Gear

Keeping it light will also help you blend in to the crowd. The last thing you want to do during the wedding ceremony is call attention to yourself with huge lights or big rigs. A great piece of advice for all wedding videographers is get the shot, but do so in the least noticeable way.

How to video a wedding

6. Keep it candid

Some of the best shots in a wedding video are often candid. Capturing candid moments will help your shots appear more natural, genuine, and memorable. 

Couples usually remember the shots they pose for. But capturing authentic moments is often more valuable to a client. They will end up with a video of special moments they did not expect. This of course does not mean to completely forget about the posed, directed shots. Rather, it means to integrate the candid and posed shots together in a balance. 

Take a look at this example of a great wedding video and note how there is a balance between candid shots and directed shots. 

How to do videography for weddings

Even within the more posed shots, be sure to encourage your clients to be natural and interact with each other as if the camera was not there. This will help even the directed shots to appear more authentic and genuine. 

How to film wedding ceremony

7. Get creative with B-roll

B-roll is one of those things that can easily become redundant. Don’t let your b-roll become filler and fluff that makes your wedding video longer. With each piece of b-roll you shoot think, “How can I compose or capture this shot creatively?” This may mean shooting through a mirror, shooting a frame within a frame, or using other cinematography techniques to capture stunning b-roll.

Utilizing techniques that some of Hollywood’s best cinematographers use can make your wedding video more cinematic. Using insert shots, close ups, and even over the shoulder shots can make your shots more interesting. Check out our ultimate guide to camera framing and composition to learn more about these techniques.

How to film wedding ceremony: Camera Framing  •  Subscribe on YouTube

In addition to being mindful of how you capture something, it is also important to be intentional with what you capture. This leads us to the next tip — capture emotion.

How to film weddings

8. Capture emotions

Weddings are an incredibly emotional occasion. For the wedding couple, for families, and for friends. Capturing these emotions will make your wedding video more impactful and memorable. 

Typically, you will be able to capture emotions by focusing on people’s reactions. For instance, a shot of the bride walking down the aisle is incredibly important. But equally as important, is capturing the emotions and possible tears of the groom as he reacts to her walking down the aisle. 

How to FIlm Weddings Show Emotions

How to Film Weddings  •  Capturing Emotions

Getting shots of emotional friends and family can also be a great snippet for your wedding clients as they typically do not have the time to see those reactions during the wedding. 

How to film wedding ceremony

9. Keep the camera steady

One of the more technical tips for cinematic wedding cinematography is to always keep the camera steady. There are almost no reasons to have a handheld shot in a wedding video. 

Utilizing a gimbal, stabilizers, or even a monopod will help you get smooth footage for a professional, high quality wedding video. This is especially important whenever you are using camera movement in a shot. 

Having a gimbal will also allow you to get more cinematic shots that elevate the production value of your video. For example, these five cinematic camera movements can be achieved with a gimbal and instantly enhance the quality of your shots.

5 Cinematic Gimbal Movements  •  How to video a wedding

How to make a wedding film

10. Don’t forget about sound

Although this is a list of tips for wedding cinematography, it is worth mentioning that one of the most overlooked elements. A great wedding video must have great sound. Having solid mics and capturing audio of key moments like wedding vows and speeches is just as important as the shot.

This video tutorial is a great breakdown of how to record amazing audio during a wedding. 

How to film a wedding ceremony  •  Audio

Shooting a wedding can be overwhelming. But a combination of preparation and practice will help you get the best footage for an amazing wedding video. 

Following these tips will help guide you in the right direction if you are first starting out in the wedding videography world. But to develop your own style and skill set will take patience and practice. So get out and get shooting anytime you can and you will undoubtedly see progress in your wedding cinematography skills. 


Wedding Photographer Shot List Tips

Ask any wedding photographer and they'll tell you the same thing: being prepared is the most important thing. There are countless variables during the wedding and the whole thing can get derailed. If you want to be able to navigate the day, a shot list is essential. To make sure you're fully prepared for the big day, check out our next article. 

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  • Kyle DeGuzman graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Science in Television, Film, & New Media. He currently resides in Denver, Colorado spending his time writing, filmmaking, and traveling.

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