Dog people are my favorite people. Or more accurately, dogs are my favorite people. I've seen an increasing trend of my couples treating their fur babies like incredibly important members of the family (as they are) and including them in their portraiture. This is a trend that I definitely want to see grow and continue because it just makes all of us so happy.
There are some key things to consider when including your dog(s) in your portraiture. Let's talk about those things and also enjoy some doggo photos together. ;)
Including your dogs in your engagement, anniversary and family portraiture:
- You know your dog best! We want to make decisions that help them be relaxed, comfortable and personable.
- Choosing a location that is less stressful for your dog is important. If there's a lot going on, say for example a bustling city location, your dog can feel your stress and no one is going to be relaxed. I recommend wide-open parks and gorgeous spots where your dog won't be too overstimulated.
- Bring lots of treats, water and possibly even a toy for a reward! This is going to be one of those times where your dog gets more treats than they probably need but hey... it's a special occasion.
- If you have multiple dogs or a dog (like mine) who is a bit uneasy, hyperactive, a handful, etc. - it can be extremely helpful to all of us if you bring along a dog sitter. Someone who can take the dog in and out of different shots and keep an eye on them for us. That way when we're shooting without your doggie, you can just relax and know that they are fine!
Including your dogs in your wedding:
- Again, you know your dog best. Including your fur baby in your wedding day is a decision only you can make but I will offer some advice to help you figure out how to include them in the most stress-free way.
- No matter what, you should have someone uninvolved in the wedding day (not a bridesmaid or groomsman, parent, sibling, etc.) who is your dog-person. This person will be responsible for getting your dog to and from their needed locations, making sure they are fed, taking them out to go potty (yeaaaaah.. sorry... I say potty when it comes to doggies) and making them a happy puppy! Your dog should be comfortable with this person.
- I recommend first and foremost planning for your dog to come for your portraiture. We need approximately 10-15 minutes of allotted time for photos with the bridal couple and their dog(s). However - a lot of dogs get incredibly excited when they arrive and see their parents. I believe it's important for the dog handler to bring the dog ahead of time and have them spend some time greeting their parents, sniffing around the portraiture spot and just calming down a bit.
- If you plan to include your dog in your ceremony, make sure they come to rehearsal just like everyone else. It's also beneficial for them to visit your venue a few different times to become comfortable.
- Not many dogs can handle the craziness of a reception. It can be very loud, hectic, overwhelming and uncomfortable for them. If you want your dogs involved in your reception, it's important that they have a safe, quiet space to escape to and someone does need to be attentive to them throughout the entirety of the reception! Remember, it may be fun and cute but anxiety on the part of the dog or the dog parents isn't OK. We want your wedding day to be fun and stress-free for everyone!
Of course you should also make sure your little floof is dressed in their wedding best. A fresh grooming, floral crown and a special leash can really make them wedding-ready!
It was something I knew immediately after getting engaged - I wanted our fur baby girl, Butters, included in both our engagement portraiture and our wedding. I want you to include your fluffy babies too and with some careful thought and preparation, that is totally possible!
For our wedding, we're relying on sweet Ashley of Ashley's Adventures Petsitting Service (based out of Lionville, PA). She has studied both canine behavior and obedience training while working at specialized boarding facilities, doggie daycares and the Philadelphia Zoo! Best of all though, she loves animals - of all kinds. I can't wait to share Butters' wedding-day experience after our wedding on August 19th and I'll definitely be featuring more of what Ashley has helped us with. Please visit her website and Facebook page for more information on her services. She may be able to help you comfortably and safely include your fur babies in your wedding day!