Finding ways to include your fur-baby (dogs, cats, or any other pets) in your wedding journey is not always easy. Many wedding ceremony venues do not allow pets on site and, due to health codes, many reception venues will likely banish your pet within a 5-mile radius!
The reality, too, is that the hectic schedule of the wedding day is also not very friendly to pets. I'm sure my corgi, Drogo, would rather be at home sleeping or be at the dog park playing with his friends than be on a leash the whole day waiting for his turn to walk down the aisle.
Including your pet in your engagement session, however, is a little more forgiving and can definitely be more fun for your fur-baby. Bringing your dog or cat to your engagement session is one of the very few ways you can ensure that your pets can be part of your wedding journey too! Your engagement photos will not only showcase you and your hubby, but it will also showcase the family that you have started together. It also just great to have quality photos taken of your dog or cat! I know my iPhone photos of Drogo is just a blur because he moves so much!
Below we've compiled five tips for bringing your pet to your engagement session. Many of these are relatively intuitive, but still a good reminder when planning your session! We've also included below some of our favourite photos of our couples with their fur babies! A cat, by the name of Cookie, makes a special appearance!
And lots of it. For many pets, especially dogs, getting out of the house is always a lot of fun. However, for some pets, it can be a stressful situation. Being in an unfamiliar location, or having a stranger point something foreign to them (like a bulky camera) can make them a bit anxious. So, bring lots of treats as reward! We want your pet to have nothing but a positive experience for what is likely their first photo shoot, and the positive reinforcement will go a long way!!
We advise our couples to bring a friend along to help with handling their adorable four-legged babies! During your engagement session, it is best to have your hands free of things. Unless there is a prop that you want to incorporate in some of your shots, it would be ideal to have nothing in your hands for most of the shoot. We want you and your fiance(e) to be holding each other for the majority of the time, not holding a leash. If you can bring a friend along who can take care of your dog or cat in between shots - this will make your shoot a lot less stressful for you and your pet(s)! This segues nicely to the next tip!
Keep their part of the shoot short.
When our couples bring their dogs or cats to their engagement shoot, we always tell them that we will spend the first 5 to 10 minutes of the session taking photos of them with their pet(s). Like toddlers, pets do become restless; they want to explore, sniff things, bark at bypassers. So to keep them happy and well-behaved, we try to get as many photos as we can in that first 10 minutes when we (the photographers) still have your pet's attention. After that, if you brought a friend along, they can go on exploring! Some of our couples have also tended to let their pets roam on their own or tie them to a tree in between shots.
Choose a familiar location.
This next tip is not always possible, but it is good to consider when choosing the location of your engagement session. Bring your pets to a familiar location: a dog park, a hiking trail, or your neighbourhood. This will minimise the amount of stress they might experience. In the past, we have suggested going to a dog park. The photo below of Jill and Donny with their adorable pup Ruby was taken at Bruce Pitt in Ottawa where Ruby was pretty much having a field day!!
Choose the right photographer.
Lastly, choose a photographer who is comfortable with pets! Like taking photos of babies or toddlers, taking photos of couples with pet(s) presents its unique challenges. Find the right photographer by asking whether they have pets of their own or whether they have taken photos of pets in the past! All of us at Mocha Tree Studios have grown up with dogs and are no stranger dog antics! We know how to handle them, we know how to get their attention, and we know their cutest angles! We love pets, and we always encourage our couples to bring them along for the shoot!
I'm sure there are many more tips for bringing your pet along on an engagement session! Please comment what you think of our tips above or if you have other useful tips for our couples!
Bonus Tip: Bring a collar/leash that complements your attire
The safest choice would be to bring a dark, neutral colour collar or leash! We want that collar/leash to fit in with your attire, so avoid bright, distracting colours if at all possible!