Are you a pet lover?
Well, I am. And if you’re like me, then your furry baby is an important member of your family and a part of your life’s story.
It just seems to make sense to include your pets in your wedding photos. I mean, your wedding day is a celebration of your love and the things that matter most to you. And your pets matter.
After all, you wouldn’t exclude a family member from your most cherished photos, would you?
But at some point we have to acknowledge: dogs, cats, and horses are not people. I know, the truth hurts.
And trying to include them in your wedding photos has its fair share of challenges.
So, in this blog post, I’ll give you my top tips as a wedding photographer on how to incorporate your furries in your wedding photos. To make it a safe, enjoyable, and magical experience for you and your furry friends too.
1. Prepare Your Pet For The Big Day
As your big day is coming, you need to get your “adopted child” comfortable with the idea of being in a busy and unfamiliar environment.
One way to do this is to take them on long walks in unfamiliar environments, with complete strangers around you. After all, your pet will be surrounded with all kinds of strangers at your wedding. So, if you want your fur-baby to come along, it’s your job to make sure your pet is used to having strangers around. They’ll feel better and behave better – and your guests will be grateful for it.
If possible, you should also take them to the wedding venue beforehand and let them sniff around and get themselves familiar with the location. This will make them more relaxed on your wedding day, since it won’t be their first time there.
It’s also a good idea to have someone – ideally someone they’re already familiar with – take care of your pet during the ceremony and reception, so you can enjoy your day without worrying about their safety.
Alternatively, quite a few companies offer pet assistant services to take the weight off of your guests’ shoulders.
2. Dress Them For The Occasion
When everyone else is suiting up and dressing up – why leave your “baby” out?
Imagine your furry baby with a bowtie, ribbon, or a tutu. Now aren’t they adorable?
Or you can choose to add a few props that are specific to your wedding’s style – a flower, a floral crown, or even a badge saying “Best Dog”, “Cat of Honor”, or “Flowerhorse”.
Now, don’t worry if you don’t have anything to dress your pet in yet. Fun & creative wedding accessories for pets are flooding the internet. And finding the perfect piece that will warm your hearts and make you laugh every time you look back at your photos will probably take you less than 5 minutes.
Obviously, you can also opt against dressing your pet for your wedding. But if you do decide to style up your furry friend with a few accessories, make sure the clothing you choose is comfortable and not too restrictive for your pet.
3. Use Tactical Treats
If your fur-baby is usually full of energy…
…chances are, they’ll eventually feel bored at your wedding.
They’re probably used to being allowed to channel their energy into running, jumping, and playing – and they might not fully understand why they need to “be a good boy” all day.
And that’s where treats come in. Have a few at hand in case the furriest member of your family has just a little too much energy to behave properly.
Treats are also a great way to get your pet’s attention during your photoshoot. You can use them to guide their gaze, and make sure they’re looking into the camera – and not peeing on your dress – while you’re posing together as one big family.
4. Choose The Right Poses
Let’s face it: your pet is adorable no matter what.
They can strike the most awkward pose, and they’ll still be the cutest thing in the room.
Still, you might want to capture them in a slightly more elegant setting too. I mean, it is your wedding day…
The challenge here is to find a pose that’s safe & comfortable to your pet. And also portrays them in a way that matches the vibe you’re going for with your photos.
So, avoid forcing them into positions that are unnatural or uncomfortable, and – I shouldn’t even have to say this – make sure that they’re not in danger of falling or getting injured. But feel free to encourage them to strike all the right poses with kind words and maybe a few tactical treats too.
Alternatively, I also love capturing them “in action”, sniffing around and having a great time overall – and relieve you from the stress of getting them to pose with you.
Still, if you want “staged photos” with your furry, one great pose is to have your pet sit or stand next to you, or have them lay down at your feet. Or if they’re smaller in size, picking them up in your arms or your lap can also lead to an amazing photo.
5. Be Patient
Remember when I said your fur-baby isn’t actually a real person?
Well, this means they probably won’t understand the significance of your special day. Sure, they’ll feel your excitement and happiness – they might even get excited & happy themselves. But at the end of the day, you can’t expect them to comprehend why it’s important for them to be on their best behavior.
As much as we love them, pets can be unpredictable and “surprise” us at the most inconvenient times.
So, you’ll have to be patient and flexible during the photo shoot. Make sure to take a break when your “adopted child” needs to rest or play. And be prepared to change your plans if they become stressed or anxious.
Also make sure you set boundaries with your guests and manage their expectations beforehand. It’s totally fine if your puppy is still in training, and likes to bark at, jump on, or lick people. But if that’s the case, ask your guests not to approach them unless they’re willing to face the consequences.
Remember, the goal is to share your most beautiful and memorable moments with your pet – and capture them for all of eternity. It’s about including them in your love story, and NOT about forcing them into a situation that makes them feel uncomfortable.
Be patient. Be flexible. And embrace the joy of all the “surprises” your “baby” brings into your life.
And there you have it, my top 5 tips to make bringing your pet to your wedding an enjoyable experience for the both of you – and get a few amazing shots together along the way. After all, including your fur-baby in your wedding photos can be a fun and meaningful way to celebrate your special day, and there really is no reason to leave them out of the happiest day of your lives.
Hey, I hope you enjoyed my article. And if you’re looking for some inspiration for your own wedding, feel free to check out my Instagram, my galleries, or my other blogs. Or contact me so I can help you make your dream wedding with your pets become a reality.