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Cinematic vs. Documentary Wedding Video

There are two main types of wedding film styles: cinematic and documentary. It is important for you to express what you envision for your wedding video when speaking to potential videographers because each has their own unique style of shooting. We’ve included some of the main differences below to help you make your decision. Keep these in mind when viewing videographer samples so you can point out aspects you particularly like or dislike in wedding video examples you’ve seen. Also bookmark video samples you like to share with potential videographers to give them a better idea of what you are looking for.

Cinematic: thoughtfully framed, dramatic lighting, staged scenes, produced 

Cinematic Wedding Videos are highly edited and produced films intended to tell a story, just like most movies you would watch in a movie theater. They are usually story-boarded with specific scenes in mind to create a specific narrative and mood. They can be dramatic, playful, whimsical, suspenseful, etc. The videographer will most likely be more involved in setting up particular shots as a director would on a movie set. Details such as framing, lighting, camera movement, transitions, and sound effects are important in telling the story and setting the desired mood for your wedding film. Not all details or “scenes” from the day will be covered, just those that help develop the storyline or mood you’ve settled upon.

Documentary: also thoughtfully composed but captures the candid moments and events as they happen

Documentary Wedding Video can include some of the elements listed above and definitely some story-telling elements such as establishing setting. The main difference is that your entire day is captured as it was experienced that day. It is in chronological order for the most part and contains many details. Shots can be choreographed (if you desire or it is the videographer’s style) or just captured as they happen without the direction of a videographer. Many brides prefer this option as the videographer is much less obtrusive and more of your guests and the day is captured (vs. being cut out because it doesn’t fit the story line of a cinematic production). As Wikipedia explains,” Observational documentaries attempt to simply and spontaneously observe lived life with a minimum of intervention.”

What if you like both styles of wedding videos? Talk to your videographer. You could request an extended documentary style video of all the events of the day plus a more dramatic set-to-music highlight reel with scenes edited to tell a story and set the desired mood. Or you could request a wedding day trailer which is especially fun to send out to friends & guests who either couldn’t attend or would just be interested in the very best short interesting clips to post on social media!

Congratulations on your upcoming wedding and best of luck!