Planning A Wedding | Tips & Tricks for including Dogs in Engagement Photos
Planning a wedding has a million questions & we are answering a big one…”Can we include our dog(s) in our engagement photos?”
It’s a question we are asked by almost every couple who owns a furbaby (or two!) and is planning a wedding.
We are big time dog lovers and we have also found a common connection with many of our couples who love their pets just as much… and they want to include them in their photos!
If you’re engaged, you might be wondering whether you should bring your furry friend to your engagement shoot or not. When possible, we are huge fans of the furry friends and love how much it can personalize your photos. It can be a wonderful opportunity to have professional photos taken of you with your pet as well, how often do you dogs get professional headshots?! It also adds a sense of ease and comfort for many people who might feel a little camera-shy. (After all, it’s hard to feel self-conscious when you’re playing with an adorable pup!) Whether you got your dog when you first moved in together or they were there when your partner popped the question, it’s not surprising that many couples look to include their pets in the wedding festivities. While having your dog serve as the ring bearer or flower girl may seem stressful to you (not to mention forbidden at your venue), there’s nothing more adorable than having your pooch pop up in your engagement photos. When you begin planning a wedding, this may be high on your list of questions to ask your photographer about! We believe that planning a wedding includes having a great action plan. Things tend to have an amazing outcome that way, so we don’t show up unprepared! 😉
Here are 6 of our best tips for including your beloved companion in your engagement session…
1. Discuss it with your photographer –
Don’t go into your engagement session without letting your photographer know about a pet appearance! While we are personally a fan of including dogs, we make a game plan before we arrive on location and your photographer might be nervous around animals or have some crazy allergies! Even if your photographer is thrilled to have your pup in the shoot, it’s still great for them to know ahead of time so they can prepare to make the most of the opportunity. Most places are dog friendly, however we always need to check, we don’t want to be surprised that day of by a no dog’s allowed policy!
2. Bring a dog-sitter
No matter how much you adore your dog, you probably want a significant portion of your engagement photos to focus just on you and your fiancé! As much as we love taking pictures with the 3, or 4 of you, we highly suggest bringing a dog wrangler along for time alone. Most pups get so excited about being in a new place, especially when you’re doing something fun together & even the best behaved dogs can get anxious.
As parent’s of 3, we put a high value on caring for our babies and your furry children are no exception! That is why our top tip is to ask a friend or family member to come along and take care of your pup during the dog-free portions of the shoot. This way you get all of the JOY of including your dog, without having to worry about when they are out of frame!
Having someone there will also help your dog relax during downtime and instead of trying to tie them to a tree or bench for them to cry at you, this person can take them for a quick walk! The end result? You’ll be able to focus only on each other, and your dog will have a blast walking around in between photos. If you don’t want them there the whole time, we can do the first half of the shoot with the dog and the second half without, so it often works great to have the friend or family member take the pup home at the half-way point. When you are planning a wedding, it may seem like the last thing you want to do, but we promise it helps ease nerves!
The exception to this rule is if you have a mini pup that can be carried between locations or fits in a basket! We use our friend Prancer as the best example of how some smaller dogs have personalities that will allow you to put them in one place and they will stay. *Yes, he really stayed in the basket the entire time! 😉
This is our favorite example and the basket was Prancers resting place while we were able to slow down and capture these incredible images! Check out their full Sedona engagement session here!
We understand that sometimes it just doesn’t work out to bring anyone extra with, especially for out of town sessions, we get it, we are just sharing how to create the most stress-free session! Make sure you chat with your photographer about the best plan during your session. 🙂
3. Swap the Collar!
Having a streamlined collar and leash allows the focus of the photos to be on you two + your dog, instead of being distracted by a bold collar or complicated leash/harness set-up. Of course, it’s always important to put safety first, so if your dog needs a harness we recommend using it, but it can be helpful to find one in a color that matches your pup, or that has a simple design and photographs easily! You can even consider a cute custom bandana or save the date sign!
4. Pack the necessities
This sounds like a silly one, but when you’re thinking about whether your outfit goes with the one your fiancé is wearing and what the traffic will be like on the way to meet your photographer, it can be easy to forget to bring pet-necessities! So plan ahead and have a little go-bag prepared to accompany your dog to the shoot. Some items you might want: a water dish & water, treats, a toy, and waste bags — Anything your dog needs to feel safe and have the best experience! The safety of you and your fur-babies is a big priority! Let your photographer know if they have a favorite word of sound — ball!?
5. Let them take a break
Don’t get stressed out if the unexpected happens and your pet starts misbehaving or refuses to sit still and look at the camera. Allow your pet to get used to the new environment and play and interact with them like you do at home to get them comfortable. If your dog refuses to participate, even for a short period of time, don’t let it ruin the entire shoot. Instead, just like kids, we let them take a break! That is why bringing a dog-sitter is so helpful — they can whisk the pup away and we can focus on the two of you!
6. Let go & have fun!
Let’s be real: the pups typically control the show! Don’t stress if they’re not perfectly behaved during the session, most pups don’t! It’s an exciting, new experience for them, so of course they are going to be a bit more energetic than normal. Sometimes the silly photos end up being the cutest anyway, so try not to stress about your dog posing for the “perfect photo.” It should be a fun experience, and capturing your dog’s personality is one of our favorite parts! Just like with kids, patience is key and sometimes it takes a few extra minutes to set up a shot, but it’s always 100% worth it!
We hope these tips & tricks were helpful in deciding how and if you want to include you furbabies in the wedding festivities!
Stephen & Melissa
See some more dog engagement photos in this blog post! Gina + Esteban