Your furry family is an important part in your lives, of course they have a huge impact on your day.
If you're here you sound like "my people", dog parents! Welcome! I'm someone who builds my life WITH my dog, and that includes your biggest day you and your partner are going to plan too. Your wedding day is the one time where your love and the life you've built together is celebrated. That includes your furry family as I'm sure they've been instrumental in your lives together.
Whether they're physically there for your big day or not I'm here to help with the process and have you feel inspired.
This is my Moira here (photo to the left). And I couldn't imagine her not in any big life plans.
There are so many ways to bring your pup into your wedding day without them being there. There are going to be couples out there that just simply can’t bring their pups to their wedding day. But don’t fret! There are so many creative ways that aren’t cheesy that makes their presence and importance known to your family and friends. I’ve deep dived into the web and pulled from weddings I’ve had the pleasure of documenting for the best of the best ideas to make this happen.
I think this one goes without saying but including your pup into your engagement session is an amazing way to get content with them BEFORE the wedding. That way you can incorporate these photos into your big day. Things like invitations, table numbers, thank you cards, your wedding website, you name it! Evening bringing a little “Save the Date” sign is a great addition that isn’t cheesy into a few photos.
Why not get back in your wedding outfits for your pup? We can adventure to a fun location, stay at home, or even get a studio space just to grab extra photos with your pup. Since they won’t be there for your big day we can make this a fun addition to your official wedding photos with no pressure of a wedding timeline.
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.
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.
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.
If you're wondering whether or not to do a first look on your wedding day, here are some ideas to consider.
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 your “mom and dad” after all.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Formal Photo Time – I like to have these right after your first look (if you’re having one) or right at the start of your couple portraits. That way they aren’t over stimulated from the day and happy to be with you before returning home or going with a handler for the day. This time frame I ask that they be around for 20 minutes.
Extended Family Photos – If you want them to be part of the extended family photos (yay!) then again I would get these done first so they can retreat to their dog handler/care taker. This would take 10 minutes.
“Let our Wedding Day Dog Handler make your special day even more memorable by allowing us the honour of be your dogs chaperone for the proposal, rehearsal, wedding or vow renewal. Clients will find the experience to be stress free having a professional who’s making sure your dog is at the right place at the right time, adequately exercised, hydrated and being on his or hers best behaviour while greeting guests or walking down the isle. Prices are determined after a consultation based off the location, requests, needs, requirements and of course budget of each client.”
There are so many talented businesses and services that can help with your wedding day that are specific for your dog. That’s where I come in. First and foremost the safety, comfortability, and stress levels of your pup on your wedding day is my main priority. Ensuring that they have a positive experience on a big day that will occupy their owners attention is the most important thing to me. Why? As a dog momma myself, and someone who works with dogs very regularly for weddings, I never want my couples to be thinking/worrying about their dog and their state of mind. Even the little things like “is someone watching Bernie? Is someone there to pick up his potty breaks?” Yes the little things matter, and all those things can weigh on your thoughts EVEN on your special day. I’m wanted to provide my top picks of services and vendors that will help with the care of your pup AND some others that amazing humans that provide fun products too!
Leave your pet in good hands during your biggest day. Having a friend or family member drop your pup off after photo time with someone who’s trusted and will ensure your pup has the best experience while you’re away.
“Forever inspired by my girls, Beans and Cashew; I wanted to create dog gear essentials that could stand the test of time. While staying true to a vegan lifestyle and avoiding any unneeded waste, these pieces allow for a more practical and smart collection. It all started when I was searching for photoshoot worthy dog gear that would not only look great but be durable and easy to maintain. Fast forward to minimalist mutt. I am passionate about crafting collars and leashes that are as beautiful as they are functional, because you and your best friend deserve the best.”
“I love, love. So being a part of a day filled to the brim with it makes my heart smile. Seeing it all piece together is pretty awesome too – a story told, a vision brought to life, families uniting, spaces transformed, and sheer happiness on everyone’s faces—it’s all pretty amazing! From the tiniest detail to the grandest undertaking, I want my work to contribute to making each moment perfectly beautiful in its own right.”
“Our style is very natural inspired, with a mix of boho artistic flare, we enjoy creating designs that resemble what you would see in nature, fields or gardens and even take inspiration from art and fashion! Each wedding design created is custom, and designed to best reflect your personality as a couple. Incorporating many varieties of greenery, florals, textures, plants, dried pieces, and using seasonal local blooms, always, when possible!”
“An all-inclusive vacation destination for dogs! Some of the excursions we offer is walking, drop in visits, daycare, boarding, sitting and special events.”
Our personal dog walker for our sweet Moira, we love Zoltan and his team.
"We here at East End Canines love dogs! Therefore we make sure they have the best time possible with us. All our practices are science based where we assess the individual needs of your dog and recommend the best option for them. We use only positive reinforcement techniques that are harm free builds confidence and a better life for your dog. We say No to shock, prong, choke , pain, force and fear and we encourage all our friends to do the same. Oh and did I mention....WE LOVE DOGS!"
Though this will take the perfect setting with your pupper, and trust (!), but I would love for them to be right next to you during your ceremony. I have done many flower pups and ringer bearers too that acts as a great role for them to be right with you the entire time.
It goes without saying that this is going to be one of the fastest days ever! Taking those few quiet moments for your pup can feel difficult, especially working within their temperament and comfort zone. But if you see your doggo fit for some activities to share together I think these make for great memories and "photo opportunities" that you can cherish forever.
Yes it’s possible, and yes we can totally make this happen! I would suggest you start your dancing together with your pup in a location where they can’t see you. Once you both have had your moment together we then reveal to your pup where you are and allow them to run to you (clean paws of course). Hopefully they will want some snuggles and kisses enough to join in.
Photo by Apaige Photography
First looks are in! And having this moment together before the big day starts is a time I protect for my couples. So when it comes to first look with family and friends it’s extra special. I can’t even express how BADLY I want this to happen. This will spark a special couple (I just know it) and if it’s you reading this, let’s do it! I think this is so special and if your pup is good about “stay” and “sit” I think this is totally possible. OR we can always set your pup up around a corner (a place where they can’t see you) and have them run to you as you call their name. Lots of options to set this up for success.
Photo by Steph Photo Co..
I couldn’t believe this creativity and amazing moment this creates for you both. Their time with us can sometimes feels like “a blink” of time. Having their paw print alone is SO special. And having that piece of them on a paper that already means SO much to you I think is something to cherish and frame.
Photo by Adventure instead
by danica oliva photography + videography
If you're a dog parents and still looking for someone to document your day through photo OR video I'd love to chat! Toronto based and available worldwide. I'm Danica! Thanks for reading my insights here.