Wedding Photography Terms: know your language

Sunday, July 19th, 2020



Like any industry, weddings have their own terminology and language – this can be broken down even further by vendor type. It can be incredibly overwhelming to understand exactly what a vendor is saying and what they mean with their words. Today, we’re going to break down some common wedding photography terms, to help clarify some language you’ll probably hear over the duration of hiring vendors.


This is the signed agreement for paying/hiring professional photography services. This document outlines the policies of the photographer you hire, as well as some legal guidelines.


The government given intellectual property rights given to photographers to protect from theft and illegal use of created images. Here’s a great article that explains more about copyright!


The time spanning from when your photographer arrives at your event to when your photographer leaves at the end of the night.

Digital Images

These refer to the digital image files taken at your session or event. Modernly, most wedding collections include the delivery of all the color-corrected digital files. They’re also delivered with printing rights so you can print/share them at your discretion.


Engagements refers to a session done of the two of you a few months ahead of your wedding. It’s done as a way to create professional images for save-the-dates or invitations, but also to immortalize the engagement period of your lives where you’re about to be married, but aren’t quite yet.

First Look

An orchestrated viewing for the bride and groom to see each other alone before the ceremony. First looks could also be done between parents, friends, children, dogs, etc. A first look is an opportunity for anybody to see the soon-to-be married just as they’re ready to go.

Getting Ready

Getting ready refers to the portion of the day where people are still getting dressed and prepared for the day ahead.

Golden Hour (Sunset)

This refers to the time period just before sunset, when the light is soft and even. This time is sometimes just referred to as sunset, and is often a choice time for couples to sneak outside for a few minutes alone of warm portraits.


The section of the day where we might snap a few formal photos of family, bridal party, and the bride and groom.

Printing Rights

The rights often extended to couples by their photographer so they can use, print, and share the images from their wedding. Here’s a great article that explains printing rights!


This typically refers to the time from cocktail hour through to the end of the night where guests can “receive” and celebrate the couple.


The amount of money placed down to reserve a vendor prior to the wedding, often done in a percent or a flat amount.

Are there any wedding photography terms we missed? What was some language you’ve commonly heard around wedding photography? Start the conversation below!

Hey! I'm Makayla, a wedding photojournalist based in Duluth, MN and Saint Paul, MN. 

I believe that stories are best told untouched, undirected, and with intentionality and meaning.

This blog is a space to share advice for couples about weddings, advice for photographers about witnessing events with intention, and steps to create decisions based on your values and what matters most to you.

Grab your favorite beverage, pull up a chair, and let's get to know each other.


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