Make no mistake. With thoughtful consideration, you can include your pet and leave it up to your wedding photographer to consider capturing the special guest’s reaction to this most unique day.
There are those couples who wouldn’t think of banning their favorite creature from their wedding, whether it is a dog, a cat, or a parakeet. They would rather drop one of their family members from the invitation list than their beloved pets. Aunt Martha, meet Bowser.
Then there are the vast majority of animal lovers whose anxiety over their pets’ unpredictable behavior keeps them from extending an invitation to them. There are also those who waffle back and forth on the matter. They would love to include their furry friends in the wedding day festivities, but for one reason or another can’t fully commit to it.
Animals create excellent photographic opportunities. Whether it is during the actual ceremony, the reception or when you’re getting ready, pets can add a measure of spontaneity and fun to the photographs. WPJA award-winning members have noted that pets can make the wedding more unique and entertaining while adding a bit of character.
1. ARE THEY READY FOR A CLOSE-UP?
In most cases, the pet attending the wedding happens to be a dog, since canines are most easily trained and socialized. So how do you know if your Fido is ready for his close-up? First, it’s important that you know how he reacts in a variety of situations. If you’re considering including him in the ceremony, know how he responds to large groups of people. Is he easily distracted? Can you (or an appointed individual) command his attention? Does he respond to basic commands, such as heel, sit, stay, etc.?
Our members suggest that you know in advance if your dog is going to cooperate so as to avoid an embarrassment during the wedding. If you want to make sure your day remains dignified, it’s important you know that your dog will be obedient. When dogs do behave well, they can make the ceremony all the more special, walking attentively down the aisle with a bridesmaid, perhaps acting as a flower girl with a collar adorned with flowers.
You can do all the planning and rehearse with your furry friend, but in the end, you may have to hold your breath and cross your fingers. Our members note that sending a dog down the aisle is similar to sending a three-year-old flower girl; you’ve done everything you can to ensure smooth sailing on your end beforehand, but then you just have to watch and wait. Although you never know what may come of it, a pet taking hold of the leash, so to speak, may result in a wonderful photograph.
The pet’s toy or bedding can be helpful in fostering a sense of comfort and security. Some of our members have learned from experience that some dogs can be calmed by putting an object they are familiar with, like a bed or pillow, next to the bride and groom during the ceremony. This way, the dog will know to go right to the pillow and can sit comfortably through the rest of the ceremony without straying.
It’s always a good idea to put someone other than the marrying couple in charge of the dog. Continuing the idea of making sure the dog is as content as possible, our members suggest that this person should be someone the dog knows or feels comfortable with. And if you think watching over your pet would be too much responsibility for one of your guests to shoulder, then your pet isn’t ready to walk the processional.
With all the activity going on, it’s important to create as comfortable an environment for the animal as possible. This means putting him on a leash if that’s what he’s accustomed to. Give him a small role in the wedding, just enough for that extra bit of fun and for a clever photograph.
3. NOT READY FOR AN AUDIENCE?
If your furry friend isn’t ready for an audience, there are other ways you can include him in your wedding festivities and the accompanying pictures. Having him hang around while the bridal party gets ready for the big day is one. However, be sure that your pet can be trusted with all the mesh/lace and expensive gowns/dresses. Fido chewing up the dress an hour before the ceremony could be a big disaster.
Our members say that some of the best photographic opportunities arise when pups are invited into the room while the bride and her bridesmaids get ready, as the presence of pets during the events of the big day can make a statement and add a bit of humor to a moment that is usually more serious. A pet’s presence also creates a sense of normalcy and provides a different perspective as they wonder at what’s happening around them. Cats, too, with their customary aloofness, can add another layer of interest and comical relief.
Pets play a large role in many peoples’ lives, and for some couples, it makes sense to consider including them in the wedding activities. They can provide another aspect to the day, and subsequently to your photographs, creating memories and moments that last.