3 Tips to Include your Dog in your Wedding Photographs

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!

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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!

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How to Create a Rain Plan for your Wedding Day

The question of ‘what do we do if it rains?’ is always important when planning an outdoor summer wedding.   Many couples make backup plans for their ceremony to move indoors, or the reception and dance floor to be under a tent, but don’t quite get around to creating a fail-safe photography plan in case of rain.  Light is the most important tool for your photographer to create beautiful images, so it’s important to consider your options in advance to make sure the backup rain option isn’t the windowless bridal suite in the basement, or spare room in the event hall with overhead pot lights that can’t be turned off.  If you’re at all unsure, make time to chat with your photographer.  Ask about what they need to create the photographs you’re looking for, and maybe arrange a time to go look at the space together or send them photographs of different areas available to you. 

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Look at The Available Indoor Space

Most venues have indoor space available to use for photographs.  It’s important to take a look at these spaces in advance however to make sure they have enough light for the photographer to work with, are big enough to fit the largest family photo you want captured, and have enough ‘clean’ floor and wall space available for your photographer to work with.

It’s also important to consider what else the indoor spaces will be used for in the event of a rainy day.  Make sure the spaces you’re considering won’t be used for the cocktail hour, ceremony, or reception, as it’s hard to take photographs surrounded by guests, chairs, or venue staff setting up for dinner.

Look at Other Indoor or Covered Space at Your Venue

If you’ve rented a large venue, there may be other spaces available on the property that will work for photographs if it’s raining.  If it’s just lightly raining, a section of trees with thick foliage will do the trick, or look for other buildings, covered porches, overhanging roofs, barns, greenhouses etc.  Sometime the best photographs come out of a rainy day when you have to shoot in locations that aren’t ‘typical’ for your venue.  Just make sure to run it by your photographer so they can plan accordingly in advance.

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Look for Indoor Space Close to Your Venue

Finally, if there aren’t many good options for indoor space available at your venue, consider planning in some extra time and traveling to a different location for some of your photographs.  This can be anywhere, from the air B&B you’ve used earlier in the day to get ready, to a store or restaurant open to having your take photographs there, to a rented space such as another venue or photo studio. 

If this seems like the best option, make sure to discuss with your photographer, and plan this in advance so you have plenty of time to contact the location and make sure you’re allowed to take photographs there, or to purchase the appropriate permits or rental time.

In the past I’ve photographed in the parents’ house, a plant shop and coffee shop across the street, a library, a separate venue and a nearby restaurant.  Almost any location can be used to create fun photographs, and as long as you plan in advance there’s no reason to worry about what to do if it rains on your wedding day! 

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