Indian wedding itineraries are not for the faint of heart. Over multiple days, your gear will see many different homes in various venues, your cards will be full more than once, your eyes will leave your camera to the fun in front of you (oops) and your feet are going to be killing you come Monday morning.
It’s all worth it. Indian weddings are a visual goldmine for filmmakers: the vibrant colors, multiple celebrations, and energetic performances are going to keep your audience engaged right from the start.
There’s no shortage of conversation in the community on pricing your services accordingly for these big celebrations or prepping for coverage.
That’s not what this is about.
Seldom do we see conversations about the edit. And we need to talk about it.
More than any other kind of wedding film, when Indian weddings need a re-edit, the potential time spent and profit lost can be huge…
…if you don’t know what to anticipate.
We’ve edited hundreds of Indian weddings: We’ve edited so many Indian weddings that we have our own internal editing guide specifically for all of the religions and major ethnic groups as they all have their own customs and celebrations: Hindi, Sikh, Jain, Muslim, Christian. The list goes on.
Filming weddings with multiple day events, that are huge family celebrations create more content and more problems. These are the major areas that couples in every market, and at every price-point are commonly requesting when it comes to re-editing Indian celebrations.
Yes, re-editing. Your usual approach to your style and packages may work without issue to book your couples, but when you get that email from the Groom saying the film is below expectations, you want to already have a plan together. Your contract can state “I don’t have to change anything if I don’t want” but when you’re sweating bullets because this huge portfolio wedding may end up netting you a bad public review, most filmmakers will try to make this work.
So, what are couples asking for when what you delivered was not enough?
(And remember, I am not a lawyer.)
If we are re-editing an Indian highlight film at the couples’ request, the music will be changed. Goodbye Maria Hines. Musicbed (love you) does not have much in the way of Bollywood. You may not find much luck with other avenues, and in most cases, these couples come back with 4-5 very specific songs to use.
Plan to only use your brand’s version of the film, with licensed tracks, in your portfolio. Any ripped songs can get your videos flagged and either muted or removed.
This is an expectation I would strongly encourage you to review in the consultation process, or, add a clause in your contract about music changes with a specific price point to swap songs.
Length of Films
If the couple did not book you for a full film or stand alone celebration events, have a back-up plan, because even if the couple loves your 5-7 minute highlight, their parents are likely to have questions: “Why was the Haldi not included? Why were your cousins’ performances missing?”
We are all story-driven filmmakers and extensions mean restructuring, which are a huge time investments on your part. Kiss that extra profit goodbye, you’ll be in your editing cave longer than you hoped. What is this new highlight going to look like? Potentially, you’re going from a narrative-driven piece to what’s looking like an extra 2-3 minutes with as much content as you can cram in there.
This can be mitigated. We strongly recommend taking a different approach by offering an entirely new product that is not a story-driven highlight: a full film, with 3-5 minute montages of each distinct pre-ceremony celebration, that includes the entire seven steps of the ceremony (in completion) along with all formal reception event and performances in their entirety.
It’s going to be a long film, but not a creatively draining one. You can also deliver separate films for each event. Either way, this helps you set expectations for the highlight, because the next set of questions we commonly see asked by couple have to do with….
You can not be in 3 places at once. Yet. You may not have the budget for a third operator, and communicating with your second while filming is challenging. Even with the best laid plans…most couples ask specifically for footage or angles of people. You probably won’t have everything, or even half of what they ask.
Let’s go back to the idea of including a full film or stand alone edits for the day. Not only does this help protect the creative bread-and-butter highlight, these complete films are a strong representation of all the footage captured.
If they don’t see the bride’s mother-in-law placing the gold coin in the bride’s hands during the Mehendi, it means the footage doesn’t exist. Not every filmmaker likes to lay all their cards out in front of their clients, but by showing your work you’re shortening the conversation to, “of your requests, here is what I can include.” This objectivity can help cut through a mountain of requests and create an actionable plan that is defined by what is possible to accommodate.
For my last point, let’s flip from objective to subjective.
Thankfully, this issue pops up less frequently than the three aforementioned areas, but it does happen and that is style. You are booked because of your highly creative, unique, time-shifted highlights.
Their parents can’t follow a single thing that’s happening when they watch it.
This is again how those longer, separate films can save you. Is it worth your time butchering your highlight to make a more strictly chronological version when a more complete full film, or a new film entirely could potentially satisfy everyone?
The Bottom Line
Every filmmaker will experience an unhappy customer. It’s bound to happen when you’re selling films that are subjective and highly personal to your customer.
With the scale of Indian Weddings in particular, I want our industry to know in advance what they can anticipate should a couple be unhappy and what those common changes are.
We find the solutions that make the couple and their families happiest are different from western style celebrations. I want this to generate ideas and conversations in those early consultation calls to hedge everything in a favorable direction for both sides of the table.
Have extra insight to push this conversation even further? Let me know!