Ten pooch-approved secrets for photographing dogs at weddings

December 27, 2018

A (photographer’s) dog’s guide on how to get priceless photos of your pooch on your wedding day

Hi! This is Daisy repawting!

So … you want to get some pawfect photos of your pooch at your wedding, huh? I don’t blame you. Us dogs are pretty photogenic, and we sure do know how to make your special day that much more special.

Plus …
• No-one else will look as cute as us. Not even your little flower girl with the perfect blonde ringlets and big blue eyes.
• We’re great stress-reducers. Nerves are normal on a wedding day and we can calm your jitters with a cuddle right before you walk down the aisle.
• You’ll miss us if we’re not there!
• The photos. Obvs.

But it’s not all cuddles and licks. Doggy disasters can and do happen.

Which is why my mum asked me to share my best tips on how to get great photos of your dog at your wedding. She’s the one with the camera and opposable thumbs, but we all know I’m the boss and tell her how it’s done.

Bride posing for a group photo with three Patterdale Terrier dogs and a horse

First up, the most impawtant thing to know is that we need your time and patience. Weddings are a strange concept to us dogs. We show our love by licking, not by exchanging rings and vows. So we don’t really get what all the fuss is about. But, if you plan our appearance(s) well, it’ll be the best part of your wedding day.

… Oh, apart from getting married, of course.*

Ready to get planning? Yay! To get you started, here’s my guide to avoiding calamities and getting ridiculously cute photos that you’ll drool over more than your dog drools over your dinner.

Bride arriving at church with her bridesmaids and dogs as flower girls

Ten pooch-approved secrets for photographing dogs at weddings

1. Book a dog-friendly wedding photographer
Is your photographer, gasp, a cat person? Or worse … not an animal lover at all? Remember that we’re more than your furry pals. We’re your family. And to capture the special bond we have, your photographer needs to care deeply about getting great photos of us for you.

For bonus balls, make sure they have experience photographing dogs too, as they’ll understand what’s required to quickly bring out the best in your fur baby. We’re adorable, but we don’t stay in one place for long. There are lampposts to sniff, birds to chase, canapés to eat … our wedding day itinerary is as full as yours!

Dog sitting on a chair waiting for the wedding ceremony to start

2. Remember what your dog is good at
Every dog is different. And every dog will react differently to the hustle and bustle of your wedding day. I’m really sociable and like people more than other dogs, so I’m always keen for a treat and tickle from some humans. But if there were a crowd of 200 people, I’d much rather people-watch from a distance. My little sister, Poppy, is scared of loud noises so church bells would have her running for the hills, while private photo shoot time somewhere quiet would recharge her batteries. Consider what your dog likes and loathes and make a plan for how you can make them feel safe, comfortable and happy during your wedding day. They’ll be more cooperative during their photo shoot (and look their best!) if they’re kept in their comfort zone.

Dogs mingling with wedding guests outside Maidwell church in Northants

3. Wedding socialisation is a thing
Remember how you socialised your new dog or puppy when they first joined your family? You introduced them to new sights, sounds and experiences so that in the future, they wouldn’t feel overwhelmed and anxious when they encountered them again. The same goes with weddings.

I thought hats and umbrellas were scary until I saw a big, white dress for the first time! Holy poo bags, batman, now THAT was frightening! But if your pup knows what to expect before your wedding day, they’ll feel far calmer and more in control.

You can take them to sniff out the venue beforehand, give them a sneak peek at your outfits and, if your photographer offers the service, include Fido in your pre-wedding shoot. This is a great way for not just you, but also your dog, to get to know your photographer and it will help them feel more comfortable about the photos on the day. That also means more photos of your dog; what could be better?

Pre-wedding photo shoot with a dog

4. Brief your photographer about us
Like you, your dog is a one-of-a-kind. To get the most out of them on your wedding day, your photographer will need to know all of the juicy canine gossip. Like what kind of breed they are, what they love and what they’re good at. Are they a champion at stay? Do they roll-over for tummy tickles? Can they high-five? This will give your photographer a chance to prepare some cool photo ideas so they can work quickly on the day.

Airdale Terrier dog at a wedding at Norwood Park

5. Plan walks
You’re probably aware that us dogs are at our best (and our best behaved) when we’ve burned off some excess energy. A hyperactive dog equals wedding day chaos! So make sure you plan for us to be taken for a walk before our photos are taken. Just be sure to tell our minders to avoid muddy places, puddles and rivers! The last thing you want is for your dirty pooch to pounce on unwilling guests and leave muddy paw prints right before you have photos.

Cavapoo puppy at a wedding at Pipewell Hall

6. Don’t be stingy with the treats
Your dog loves you more than anything in the world. But if a rabbit dashes past or somebody drops a piece of cake on the ground … all bets are off. And good luck getting a great photo when pooch is in rabbit/cake mode! Unless, of course, you happen to have your dog’s favourite treats on hand! You know the ones. The ones they beg for and would guzzle 24/7 if they could. Those ones. Bring them … and lots of them. Break bigger ones up into smaller pieces and then give them to your pet chaperone so they can keep our focus, attention and good behaviour during our photoshoot.

Bride chatting with her dog at a wedding at Wethele Manor

7. Let your photographer lead the pawtraits
You know your dog is clever. But if there are loads of people calling their name and shouting ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ and ‘roll over’, they’ll have no idea who to listen to, much less what to do. Help them out by relinquishing all control to the person behind the camera. They know what they’re doing and if they need your help, they’ll ask for it. You can support them by handing over your dog’s most prized toy and then looking/smiling at the camera the entire time so you’re ready when your dog is.

Forgot the toy? Don’t worry – there’s an app for that! Download ‘iSqueak’ or ‘Dog Sounds’ and test the different sounds out on your dog to see what they respond to best. Tip: You want the one that makes them tilt their head or prick their ears up, rather than the ones that send them into a frenzy!

Bride and groom pose for a wedding photo with their dog

8. Get to our level
Your photos will have so more intimacy if everyone’s heads are at a similar level. So if your dog is a shorty like me, pick them up. If they’re too big to carry, get down on the floor with them. I insist that you put them right in the middle though. Because they’re clearly the most important.

Patterdale terrier dog as a flower girl at a wedding

9. Dress us up … but make sure we’re comfortable
Yeah, we’re adorable in tutus and flower crowns, but how long do you think they’re going to last if we’re uncomfortable? The correct answer is: As long as it takes for our sharp little teeth to destroy our costume. And definitely not long enough for your photographer to capture a good photo of us. #notsorry #toobadaboutthosephotos

The best accessories accentuate our natural beauty. Think bow ties or flowers that can be fixed onto our collars. Or you could wind some ivy on our lead or find a nice coloured one. Simple, but beautiful, and they look great in photos! (If you use fresh flowers please make sure they’re not toxic!)

Dog with a sign saying 'I loved her first' at a wedding

10. Let us be dogs
We’re pretty tolerant with the weird human things you do. Extend the same favour to us and make sure you’re calm and positive; even if we jump up and get fur on your outfit. Let us lick your make-up off #youmaynowkissthebride and cuddle on your lap. Don’t make us sit for ages; walk with us, play with us, rub our bellies … And relax and go with the flow if we don’t do what you want. The unexpected natural photos are often more special than anything you could plan. Weddings are for making memories, not worrying about being perfect. Let us steal the show! We all know who’s top dog.

 

Thanks for reading this article and I hope your wedding day is as beautiful as you are! *Sits and waits for a reward*

Woof!
Daisy

 

*Mum made me say that.

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