I clearly come across as a massive dog-lover on social media (and rightly so!), because so many amazing couples I get to photograph ask me about how we can somehow include their dogs in either their wedding or engagement photographs. It’s always easy to include dogs in engagement photographs, whether it’s at home or on a hike, we usually end up planning an activity that’s dog friendly and perfect for taking photographs with the whole family. It takes a bit more planning to include your pup in the wedding day photographs, but with the right preparation it’s easy to make sure everyone is included and no dresses get ripped in the process!
1. Hire or appoint a dog handler
It’s key that your dog can be present and included in the wedding photographs without either of you having to worry about keeping them calm and under control. You’ll have enough to carry with bouquets or drinks in hand, not to mention wearing heels and tight suits, making it difficult to manage your potentially very excited and very distracted pup!
If you have a dog walker, I often find the best option is to hire them in advance to help make sure your wedding clothes don’t get ripped or dirty, keep your pup from running in excited circles, and make sure they’re perfectly behaved with treats held behind the camera in all the photographs. Your dog walker can either spend the day with you if you want your dog to be part of the whole event, or can arrange for your dog to be brought to the venue for photographs and returned home when we’re finished.
If you don’t have a dog walker, consider hiring a handler for the day, or appointing a family member or friend who loves your pup and will be able to do a good job of keeping them calmly in check for the photographs.
2. Set realistic expectations
It isn’t difficult to create great wedding photographs with your dog included, but make sure you aren’t planning anything too extravagant and outside of their usual wheelhouse. Try not to ask them to do anything new for the photographs such as being picked up, or walking on a busy street without a lead. Be patient if they’re a little overexcited and not listening like a champ immediately. Most importantly, make sure to schedule plenty of extra time to create these photographs, it’s helpful to give everyone a chance to slow down and get in the swing of things together!
3. Make sure your dog has a good day
Help your pup be successful in front of the camera by making sure they get well exercised in the morning, and have plenty of treats and water on hand. If you’re planning on having your dog spend the whole day with you, make sure they always have someone with them (dogs tied up at the side tend to howl pitifully during ceremonies), and consider whether they’ll do well with situations that are crowded, loud, quiet, and anything in between! If you’re not sure, you can always get your dog walker to bring the pup home later in the day so you can dance the night away without worrying,
Finally, and I’m sure this goes without saying, don’t surprise your photographer with this the day before the wedding! If you think you might want to include your dog in the wedding photographs, try to make sure you find a photographer who likes dogs, and will be relaxed and comfortable with this added element of excitement in the photographs. When you plan it out properly, there’s no reason why you can’t have wedding photographs with your whole family, furry members included!