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Everything You Need to Know About Film Wedding Photography

What is film wedding photography? How much does it cost? And what's the difference between film and digital? We have all the answers here...

a man twirling a woman around outside - shot on 35mm film

As with fashion, interior décor and music, nowadays it's all about being out with the new, and in with the old, and your wedding photography is no exception. 

There are some trends from back in the day that we're happy to never see again (low-rise jeans, we're looking at you!), but the nostalgia of film photography is one we're welcoming back with open arms.

The latest Hitched Wedding Trends Report stated film wedding photography as one of the key emerging trends for 2024 and 2025 weddings, along with celebrant-led ceremonies, wedding saxophonists and more. 

But what is 35mm film wedding photography, how much does it cost, and should you book it for your own wedding celebrations?

Everything You Need to Know About Film Wedding Photography

Wondering if this is the wedding photography style for you? 

Here with all the answers and more, this guide includes everything you need to know about film wedding photography, along with additional advice from the experts who shoot using film. 

What is Film Wedding Photography?

a black and white film photograph of a bride and wedding party outside a church

Film photography, not to be confused with wedding films (which are shot by a wedding videographer), is photography shot on old school negative film. 

Film photography is created by using a roll of light-sensitive film and using the camera shutter to expose the film to light to get the shots. 

Because of the sensitivity of the film, the shots captured by this technique are often more raw and natural than posed digital shots.

What's the Difference Between Film Photography and Digital Photography?

a close up wedding film photograph of a bride smiling holding a bouquet

"Film has a classic look, that just can’t be replicated by a digital camera," says photography duo Ivy and Pine

"The colours and textures in film photos are irreplaceable, each film produces a different colour and texture. It’s nostalgic, classic and timeless.

"Film forces you to take a second to think about what you are photographing. It’s way more manual. We find the process of shooting film so fun. Everything is very hands on, and waiting to see your photos once they’ve been developed leaves you so excited to see them."

Though the style can't be fully replicated by digital cameras, you can hire photographers who edit in the style of film. Ivy and Pine explain, "We base our digital editing style on film photography. There’s a reason the most popular film stocks haven’t changed much over the years."

How Many Pictures Do You Get With Film Wedding Photography?

a bride stands in front of a groom and looks up at him - shot on 35mm film

When you hire a wedding photographer to shoot digital images of your wedding, you're likely to end up with hundreds, sometimes even thousands of images for you to look back on.

However with film, a standard roll of 35mm film only has the capacity to take 36 pictures, and some even less than that. 

Because of this, you're likely to spread your roll of film out throughout the day and save it for key moments. There's no limit to how many rolls of film you have at your wedding - but most photographers offer film photography as an add-on and will bring one or two rolls.

It's common to pay by the roll, so the more film shots you want, the more you'll pay - though in our eyes, it's worth every penny!

Things to Know Before You Book Film Wedding Photography

two grooms shot on black and white 35mm film looking out to the view

Thinking of booking film photography for your wedding? Here are a few things you need to know first. 

1. You'll Love the Pictures

"The most important thing couples need to know before they book film wedding photography is how much they will fall in love with the photos," says Ivy and Pine. 

And we agree - there's a feeling of nostalgia and romance that comes with film wedding photography, and one that you just can't create with other media forms. 

2. It's Less Predictable Than Digital

As we've already touched upon, the process of shooting on film versus digital is very different, as Ivy and Pine explain.

"Film is less predictable than digital photography. Because you can’t see what you’re photographing on a screen, you can’t always expect a perfect photo.

"But that’s the charm with film. Sometimes there might be a little light flare, leak or burn in the film, but that's what makes film so great, it can be perfectly imperfect."

3. Quality Over Quantity

Unless you're paying for dozens and dozens of film rolls, you're not going to get as many film photographs as you are with digital photography, but it's a less is more approach with this medium. 

If you're only getting a handful of images, consider parts of the day you'd like captured on film and plan for that with your photographer. You'll be able to fill a beautiful wedding photo album afterwards.

4. The Finish is Retro

The beauty of film photography is that grainy, punch finish you get on the images. They aren't crisp and perfect like digital photographs. Instead, they have that nostalgic grain finish that makes them so unique. 

"Film is for anybody that loves a romantic, classic, timeless photograph," says Ivy and Pine, "If you’re a little nostalgic like us, you’ll love the whole process of it, including waiting for your photos to be developed to see what the outcome is, and falling in love with the imperfections, as well as the 10/10 ‘perfect’ photos too."

5. It Works With Digital

There's nothing wrong with putting all of your eggs in one basket - with that basket being film photography. If you're dead-set on that style and are happy to have less photographs of your big day, go for it.

But for those who want the best of both worlds, the best way to include film wedding photography at your wedding is to find a photographer who does both. 

Many film wedding photographers also shoot in digital, too, and will offer rolls of film as a (very much worth the money) add-on to their digital package. 

How Much Does Film Wedding Photography Cost? 

a film photograph of a wedding breakfast and reception where all the guests are standing, sitting and chatting

It's time to crunch the numbers - but like with any wedding service, the cost varies depending on what you expect. 

As an add-on, film photography prices can start from as little as £150 per roll, which is an absolute steal to have a selection of nostalgic, retro prints to go alongside your digital pictures, and as much as £500 per roll for higher-end shooters.

If you are working with a photographer who is coming solely to shoot on film, you can expect the price to be higher as they will have to take into consideration travel and the fact that they likely won't be shooting any other weddings that day. 

For more on costs, check out our guide to wedding photography prices