Imagine this scenario. The year is 2023. 90% of your wedding guests have a camera in their pocket, capable of filming 4K. You pay £1,500+ for a professional videographer. This is the reality for tens of thousands of couples that get married every year in the UK.
Ok, we were being a bit dramatic there. It’s true though – since 2015 nearly all major phone brands have been manufacturing phones capable of filming very high quality video. So to answer the question, “Can I film my friend’s wedding on my phone?”, the answer is definitely yes.
However, don’t let that fool you! Unless you take care of all the necessary planning, it won’t be easy.
In this day and age, phone cameras are getting more and more advanced.
In this day and age, phone cameras are getting more and more advanced. The camera on your phone is probably much better than it was when you bought it, because the processor in your phone has gotten faster (which means things happen faster), the software that runs on your phone’s operating system has gotten more sophisticated (which means it does more stuff), and the camera itself is getting better (it captures more light).
Phone videos are usually viewed on… you guessed it, a phone! Phone screens are by nature fairly small, which means video doesn’t need to be incredible quality to look good. Having said that, most phones can film in a quality that will look great even when blown up on a big screen.
Now to be clear, we aren’t saying that phone videos will be as good as the quality that a professional videographer will be able to achieve. But ask yourself, is it necessary?
Ultimately, we believe the most important thing for a wedding video to do, is to take you right back to your special day, and capture the essence of it. As long as it’s watchable, the number of pixels on the screen at any one time probably isn’t going to matter to you. For that reason, an iPhone wedding video is definitely possible!
The lighting needs to be pretty good.
Phone video can struggle in dark light. Therefore ideally, the lighting needs to be pretty good. You can’t just rely on the flash and hope it’s enough to illuminate your subjects if they’re moving around or dancing. If you have a bright enough indoor location, such as a ballroom or banquet hall with lots of windows, that’s great—just be sure not to shoot any faces directly into strong sunlight; it will cast harsh shadows and reflect off glasses in an unflattering way. But if you don’t have much natural light, you’ll need artificial lighting to help fill out the scene with some brightness (and soften those hard shadows). If possible, set up two lights: one softening light in front of your subject(s) aimed at their face from an angle slightly above them (about 45 degrees), and then another bright spot light behind them pointed at the wall behind them so that it spills onto their backs and shoulders without washing out their faces too much.
Watch the weather.
You’ll want to watch the weather, too. If it’s going to rain or snow, or if you’re getting married on a hot day, you might want to bring an umbrella or cover for your phone. Luckily, this is not as big of a problem as you might think: most phones are waterproof these days!
If you’re filming outdoors and have no choice but to deal with inclement conditions, consider bringing along a windbreaker so that your phone audio won’t be overruled by harsh winds.
Know what you can realistically do with the phone.
Before you start filming your wedding, it’s important to understand what you can realistically accomplish with a phone camera. You’ll want to think about:
- What quality is the video going to be on your phone? Is the lens wide enough? Are there any special features that might make things like focus or audio easier to adjust?
- How much storage space do you have on your phone? Will you need additional memory in order to record multiple videos?
- How much battery does your phone have? We recommend taking a charger so you can ensure it’s kept charged up ready for use.
The audio won’t be the strongest
If you’re recording with your phone, you won’t have the option of using a professional camera mic with it to get great audio. The microphone on your smartphone is fine for casual conversations and interviews, but it will struggle in noisy environments like weddings. The room itself can be very loud and make it hard to hear what people are saying from where you’re filming. Even if your phone has dual-lens cameras and one of those lenses can record video in 4K, it may struggle with the audio.
For that reason, for the really important moments, such as the ceremony and the speeches, we recommend using a second phone to record the audio up close. Just use the Sound Recorder or Voice Memo app that came on your phone, and place it right near the person speaking. You can then edit this together with the video in post-production.
If you want really top notch sound at all during your wedding footage, consider using a digital audio recorder instead of filming with a smartphone—and then sync up the two clips once they’re edited together in post-production.
Know where you are allowed to film from.
We’re assuming you already have permission from the bride and groom! It’s still worth checking exactly where you are allowed to film. For example, sometimes couples don’t want any videography or photography in their ceremony.
It’s worth having a chat with the couple beforehand and clarifying exactly what they want you to film. This list is a good starting point:
- getting ready
- the ceremony
- cake cutting
- first dance
Along with this, we’d recommend getting lots of background footage as these will be really useful in the edit. For example, scene setting shots showing the buildings from outside, candid shots of guests mingling, close ups of decorations, and so on.
You can definitely film a good wedding video with a phone, just know that there are limitations.
Whether you’re a professional videographer or just someone who likes to record everything, you can definitely film a very good quality wedding video on your phone.
When deciding whether or not this is the right option for you, consider that phone cameras are getting better all the time. You can find some high-quality ones these days—the iPhone 14 and Google Pixel 3 are two good examples of cameras that can take excellent photos and footage. If you have one of these devices and know how to use it well, filming your own wedding video (or your friend’s wedding video) will be within reach!
As mentioned, you might also want to try using an external microphone if possible; this will both make audio quality better as well as help cut down on ambient noise from surroundings such as crowds. Alternatively use another phone for recording audio close up.
Film a wedding on your phone with FIY Wedding
The elephant in the room. At FIY Wedding, filming weddings on phones is our speciality. We make it possible to have lots of your guests film parts of your wedding – we provide personalised QR cards for your guests to scan and upload their footage directly to us. We then professionally edit the video for you. Take a look at our packages for more information about how we might be able to help!