Yes it’s great to have them all dressed up as your ring bearer, flower girl or best man, but what goes into setting those arrangements up for the wedding day. What about potty breaks? Let’s get real, there are a few things to have in place for all of this to happen. I want to give you the facts behind making these memories a reality for your special day and, of course!, the photo opportunities that they should be a part of.
Here are my TOP 4 TIPS to Having your Pup be a part of your wedding day from a professional photographers opinion.
1/ The Logistics of the Dog Handler
This can be a friend, family member, or their regular dog walker. You want an individual that is designated to this role. The worst part is too have too many people handing off your pup, not keeping track with their potty breaks, and then an accident happens. I always suggest your pupper come for your GETTING READY photos so they can be a part of it. Of course the CEREMONY. IN most cases they have a role in your wedding. Scheduling your photos with your pup BEFORE all the FORMAL PHOTOS with family or wedding party (whether it’s after or before the ceremony). That way there’s no fuss, your dog handler doesn’t need to wait around and they aren’t over stimulated from all the action of the day.
It’s great to have someone that isn’t scheduled to be in too many formal photos but who is able to come and go with your pup. That way there isn't a demand on your dog handlers time but they are also available to hand the pupper over for photos.
Dog Handler and Pup arrive for GETTING READY PHOTOS.
Pup waits with Handler until time for CEREMONY.
Stays with them during CEREMONY.
Whether your photos are before or after the ceremony have your pupper's portraits done FIRST. That way they can get their attention and get those trickier photos "out of the way". As a photographer I can then move onto the list of family portraits that need to be done without having to accomodate for the pups needs (like potty breaks). As a photographer we try our hardest to make sure things run on time and efficiently. This is another tip for getting through the family photos time.
Once the pupper has had their close ups done and the ceremony is over the handler can then bring your pup back home or to a designed spot for the evening. Then your handler can come back and party with the rest of your guests.
These may sound obvious but it's great to communicate a little bit of a schedule that the handler feels comfortable with. For example, you will see the beautiful sister of the groom below who had the responsibility to make sure Bernie got to the places he needed to be. Bernie was with the groom during the getting ready time and once it was time for the ceremony his sister took over and had Bernie for the rest of the time. Once Bernie went home his sister was able to join us again. AGAIN simple arrangements that can be made with no fuss.
2/ Having them be a part of the Ceremony
Like you I am obsessed with my pup and would want her to have a starring role in my wedding. You will have seen these photos of pups walking down the aisle, pups as the flower girl, pups at the altar. No matter what title your pup will have the only piece of advice I would give you is to have them sit in the front nearby with their handler. Once their duties are done they are doing to want to be close to the two of you. Hey you're "mom and dad" after all.
3/ Give them a Chewy Stick.
This will keep them busy and in one spot during the ceremony. And I haven't met a pupper yet that hasn't liked a chewy stick. The handler will sit with them, give them one of the chewy bones to keep them occupied and quiet, and done! It's such a little detail that can really keep a high anxiety pupper calm and settled while watching mom and dad get married at the altar.
4/ The best photo ideas with your pup
Personally, my style of photography is to very much have you forget I'm there so I can grab those candid moments that naturally happen. When there is a set time for the pupper to be there for photos I understand that time and a little planning might be required to grab the most desired shots. What I would suggest movement's that make or great photos with your puppers:
Walk It Out - get some of their energy out while there's a stranger around them (aka me the photographer following your pupper). I literally get my coupled to walk with their pupper on a leash away from my camera and back to my camera. Interacting with one another before giving the pupper too much stimulation.
Letting your Pupper Shine In Front - Just that. I love that classic photo when your pup takes center stage standing in front of you. I usually get my couples to kneel down to their pupper's level and take a few steps behind their pup. It make for a great shot to showcase the details of your pupper.
The Details - Having your puppers be close with the details that bring your wedding together. My example below is a little Yorkie Corson with the wedding rings.
Flower Wreaths for the Win - I'm sure you've heard of flower crowns being a part of the bridal ensemble. My opinion is to create a dog WREATH and not a dog flower crown. My reasoning may seem obvious but the way a wreath sit around their collar instead of around their head is much more manageable.
You won't regret it.
You won't regret it. In the end whatever happens will happen. Maybe your pupper starts barking in the middle of the ceremony, maybe your ceremony is outside and they take a potty break at the front....those are things that are going to make your wedding YOURS. But I have never ever heard someone regretting bringing their pup. There are so many ways to make it happen where everyone wins. I think that as long as you don't wait last minute to make these arrangements you will be setting yourself up for success. There is nothing more important than your stress level and your pupper's comfort for your wedding day. They're a huge part of your family and they should be there if it's possible to make it happen.