If you’ve followed my work for any length of time, you know I love animals and spend most mornings adventuring outdoors with our two rescue pups. So, it goes unsaid that I’m always excited when my clients ask to bring their animals along for their photo session. While the final images are always worth it, know that bringing your pet takes more time and consideration than just arriving with you and your loved one. Below I’ve listed my top five tips to ensure including your pet in your photos is as stress-free (for both you AND them) as possible.
Ask a friend or family member to help.
Whether or not you have an energetic pet, trying to effortlessly smile and snuggle your significant other without getting tangled in a leash can be a challenge. Bringing along a friend or family member to help hold (and entertain) your pet while you take portraits can be a huge lifesaver. This is especially true for those who bring their four-legged family members to their wedding day.
While I know you love your furry friend, taking time during your big day to ensure he/she gets adequate bathroom breaks, dinner, and a walk will steal unforgettable moments from you and your significant other. I highly recommend asking someone your pet is familiar with to help with feeding time, walks, and bringing your pet safely to and from photo ops so that you get to focus on your marriage! And whether it’s during your nuptials or simply a couples photo session, having that friend help to tire your pet out before any big moments and grab your pet’s attention during posed photographs is invaluable!
If you want photos with your pet, choose a quiet time and location.
While some animals love the spotlight, many can feel timid, scared, or unfocused around large groups in a new place. The most successful photo ops with your pet often happen during a portrait session or a quiet moment on your wedding day. If you’re planning a couples session with your pet, aim for a quiet or more rural location to help keep distractions at bay. Avoid areas with heavy traffic, lots of people, or loud noises. If you’re aiming for pet photos on your wedding day, consider taking them during a First Look, or other quiet moment where your pet will feel most at ease!
Bring a lint roller.
…because we love dogs, but we don’t love when our clothes are covered in dog hair in all of our photos.
Be sure you’re in a pet-friendly location.
While many wedding venues allow animals, some only have a handful of pet-friendly accommodations. Be sure you know your venue’s pet policy so that there are no last minute stressors on your big day! You want to ensure you’re staying in a cottage/cabin/room where animals are allowed. If you’re bringing your pet along for a photo session, be sure the area allows pets and familiarize yourself with the leash policy. Last, don’t forget disposable bags – and always leave the area just as you found it.
Last, consider your pet’s comfort level.
When it comes to weddings, know that not all animals are wedding-ready. Be aware of your pet’s comfort level around new people and don’t force them into anything you don’t think they’d be comfortable with. I love my dogs dearly, but bringing them to a wedding with 100+ people would be asking a lot of them. If your pet is used to crowds or a great addition to your busy celebration, then we are all for it! However, if it’s not in your pet’s best interest, create another way to honor them on your wedding day. We’ve seen everything from custom cake toppers with pet figurines included, to signature drinks named after the couples’ fur fam. Be creative! Or, if you’re as obsessed with your dog(s) as I am, do all of the above. For photo sessions, be sure that your pet will be comfortable in the location you choose. For more tips on that, check out tip #2 above! Last, explore if bringing your pet along will be more stressful for YOU.