How to Edit The Best Wedding Films: Our 7 Essential Steps

In our opinion, editing is THE most important part of film making. After all, it’s where “the magic happens”. For The un-initiated, editing is a mysterious process where magic and trickery is performed. It’s where a seemingly endless amount of footage is crafted into a story with multiple emotions, themes, sounds and subtle effects.  Creating the best wedding films is time-consuming and challenging. But the reward is definitely worth it.

Mark, we LOOOOVE THE VIDEOS!!! WOW! Thank you SO MUCH for your incredible work. They are just the most special things ever and we will cherish them forever – as we watched I was hoping the film never ended….. ! 

Rachel + Clark

We pride ourselves on our editing. We think it’s where we set ourselves apart from other Wedding Videographers so it’s about time we wrote something about it! We hope to enlighten you!

1) We Watch Everything and Take the Time to Select the Best Bits.

This might seem obvious. But you know what? It’s THE most important step and often overlooked. It’s just so tempting to jump straight in and make a snazzy 30 second trailer. Watching back through hours of raw footage is a long process, and definitely not the most exciting part of editing. But it’s absolutely essential in getting a bird’s eye view of the film you want to make.

We step through each and every second of video and audio, placing everything “usable” on the editing timeline. Then we synchronize and edit all of our “multi-cam” sequences (the ceremony, speeches and first dances). This is also the stage that we test out colour and styling ideas so that we have a solid foundation to move forward. 

How to edit the best wedding videos. Screenshot of selects timeline in final cut pro x

2) We Belive Story is the Foundation of the Best Wedding Films

This is often the most challenging part of the process. It’s all about establishing a coherent story that explores characters, motives, challenges and emotions. We begin by combing back through narrative elements, such as letters, vows and speeches. We look for soundbites that heighten emotion and tell us something about the wedding or the couple.

Our favourite stories are those that have depth and reveal intimate details about the characters. Sometimes we’ll find that special nugget that gives us the goosebumps. Something that establishes a real connection between the couple and the viewer.  Once we have our narrative elements picked out, we assemble them in a way that flows. Our aim is to create an emotional journey that the viewer can share in. 

3) We Spend Hours Searching for the Perfect Wedding Video Music

Once we have our story elements in place, we want to find the glue to hold it all together. A soundtrack can absolutely make or break a film which is why we’ll spend hours tracking down that perfect score. It’s not just about finding something that sounds nice, it’s about assembling a soundscape that rises and falls with the emotions you want to evoke. 

We love to find music that builds and gives us big hits, drops and other dynamic elements which accentuate important parts of the story.  In our Cinematic and Feature films we work with a multiple songs which give us opportunities to “change gear” between different chapters.  

We license all of our music because we think it’s important to pay for the art that we’re utilizing. It also means that your films are safe from copy-write infringement and won’t be removed if you chose to share them online. We’ve had great success with using The Music Bed to find some amazing tracks from talented artists. 

Editing the Best Wedding Films with soundtracks from The Music Bed

4) We Assemble the Visuals to Match the Story

It is several days into the process before we begin working with visuals. We begin by grabbing key moments and placing them at important story points in the timeline. From that point we can begin filling the gaps, refining and testing out creative ideas to make a visually dynamic video that illustrates the story being told. Sometimes those visuals can be “time shifted”. You might see the first dance half way through or the photoshoot at the beginning. However, the story will still make sense. We are simply illustrating the emotional journey based on the audio narrative we established in step 2. 

5) Now we Polish the Edit, Animate Visuals and Apply Effects

Now we’re at the point of taking a film from good to great by really paying attention to detail. Once the edit has been refined and timed to the music, we  straighten horizons and animate each shot. These are subtle effects, but can completely change how an image is perceived. For example, un-natural angles can subconsciously communicate un-ease, so we want to straighten them out. We might also animate a slight zoom to draw your attention to a person or object. Subtle differences like these add up and we think they’re important. 

How to edit the best wedding videos. Screenshot of keyframe animation in final cut pro x
Animating shot movement using keyframes in Final Cut Pro X. From Alexandra + Peter’s wedding at Arlington Estate

6) We Apply a Cinematic Colour Grade

The best wedding films look Cinematic. That requires colour balancing and creatively grading each shot. Our films are shot with a “log” profile, which gives the maximum latitude to manipulate the image to our taste. We tend to shy away from instagram-looking filters. Looking back at wedding films from other videographers, it’s easy for us to date a video by the “look” that was trending that year. We want our films to look timeless and cinematic. We like to emphasize natural colours (blue, green and gold) and add a little grain to soften the image. 

How to edit the best wedding videos. Visual comparison of Log versus graded final look

7) Finally, We Mix the Dialogue, Sound Effects and Music

Sound is super important to us and a key part of reliving the experience. We make this easier for ourselves by making sure the letters, vows and speeches are recorded well in the first place. This means that we don’t have to filter out unwanted background noise which will only degrade the clarity of what is being said. All we need is a little EQ and compression (this evens out the volume of your voice to add more “presence”) to make sure your vocals are nice and clear. 

We also like to spend some time with sound design. This means going through each shot and seeing if there’s some ambient sounds or atmospheric effects we can add. These are often subtle, but they might range from city ambience to clapping, laughing or the sound of an envelope opening. Sometimes we’re able to take these from the recordings we make on the day. But we also love to go that extra mile and source additional effects that elevate the quality of your film. 

Audio Mixing in Final Cut Pro X. Show EQ and Compression being applied
Applying EQ and Compression to Alexey + Michelle’s final sound mix

Want to Know More about Creating your Best Wedding Films?

We’ve been filming weddings for over 10 years now and feel confident about sharing our knowledge. Wedding videography is an amazing industry to be a part of. There’s a real sense of community and tons of knowledge sharing, helping everyone to create their best wedding films. Read about Why we love our job and follow our Blog to stay updated with our latest tips. .

Leave a comment