Why Color Grading Wedding Films is More Challenging than Feature Films

As a colorist, I thought that, since I can handle short films and feature films, color grading wedding films would be a walk in the park.

But, I was wrong!

Recently, I’ve been asked to grade wedding films and pre-wedding films. I thought, “Why not? I’m a professional colorist for feature films so that’ll take me less effort and time.”

I discovered a lot of reasons why I’ll just stick to feature films after this.

Way more lighting problems in wedding films than in feature films

In shooting feature films, the director and cinematographer would make tremendous effort in getting the look close to the desired look as early as the pre-production stage.

They choose the cameras, lenses, lighting equipment, and all the props needed to create the scene. When I get the files, I almost know what look they are aiming for just by how the raw footage look.

In wedding films, you don’t have the luxury to light everything perfectly. Most of the time the videographer would utilize the lighting available, change settings to make sure everything’s looking great and hit record.

They’re going to shoot in different locations with different lighting but most of the time they will sacrifice the lighting to get these important shots. I completely understand this because I was a wedding filmmaker, myself.

You’re lucky if the location has good lighting. I have filmed and graded a wedding where there are random colors that almost resemble disco lights. That was a nightmare to grade because, in the first place, weddings shouldn’t look like that.

Stereotype wedding looks make professional colorists cringe

These stereotypical wedding looks are created for a certain reason. It’s to make the film look great in the fastest possible time.

Having these wedding film looks as my reference makes me wanna correct it more than create something like it.

Most of the time they use LUTs to land on a certain look and just make tweaks to make the image look great. I think it’s a waste to hire a colorist just to recreate certain wedding film looks. It can be done by downloading a LUT that looks like it and just do the necessary changes.

Whenever I’m color grading, I want the client to get the total experience of having a colorist. Colorists can create any look possible, make the subjects pop out more, create depth, stylize the look, clean the image, skin retouch without losing details on other parts of the frame, etc.

Wedding film locations are so random that shot matching them needs more effort

In feature films, cinematographers will remove anything that isn’t in line with the color palette of the film. In wedding films, we don’t have that much freedom. So colorists will need to qualify objects that are distracting, put a window on them and track it to be consistent with the look created.

That’s why I can’t blame wedding filmmakers for resorting to desaturated monochromatic look most of the time. That would solve the distractions in the location while stylizing the film.

Creating a simple look will also solve this problem but that would be a waste of money to hire a colorist. The best thing is to collaborate with the colorist’s idea and create different looks for different locations since the main goal in wedding films is to wow them with visuals.

You need to spend more time on color correction and shot matching

One of the benefits of hiring a colorist is having a very clean image. And, we all know that well-lit footage is way easier to clean. Wedding films will take more time since they have more gunks, chromatic aberrations, overexposed footage, underexposed footage, footage that needs more light shaping, etc.

Most wedding films don’t put much effort into these things and that’s totally okay since people are used to it and aren’t that strict when it comes to wedding films.

But, when you see these things in a Netflix movie, you’ll feel like something is off.

Deep inside my heart, I want every wedding film that I grade to feel like you’re watching a Netflix film. I want viewers to be confused about whether it’s a Netflix film or a wedding film even just for a second.

Once I finished these wedding films, I’ll share them on this website and tell me if I achieved that goal.


It may take more work but when you’re a professional colorist, you have to make sure that you apply all the principles you have in grading any type of film you grade.

If your client wants something that looks like graded with a LUT pack, go ahead and create something that has the qualities of that look but still maintains the qualities of a feature film.