Thinking about finding a way for your fur babies to be a part of your wedding? As pet parents ourselves, we understand completely the desire to have your dogs in your marriage celebrations. If our beloved cats would have been more cooperative, we would have absolutely included them in ours! As Northern VA candid wedding photographers, we love the idea even more. For reasons we get into below, pets are an important part of many couples’ relationships. So including your dogs in your wedding is a great way to tell a critical chapter of your love story. Just like this bride did while planning her wedding in Northern Virginia.
For most couples, the path to the altar does not go directly from Point A to Point B. There are a series of milestones that each passes between their first date and their wedding day. A first kiss, for example, and an exchange of “I love yous.” Maybe the couple decides to move in together. Or even buy a house or start a family. Each is a sign that the relationship is deepening and progressing toward a life by one another’s sides.
Getting a dog is for many couples just this sort of milestone. Adopting a pet is a shared obligation, a commitment to a future together and in some ways, a trial run for having human kids together. It is an important step in a relationship and an important part of their story. Even when one partner comes into the marriage with dogs, the other coming to love them is a sign that they are becoming a family.
This is why weddings with dogs are so great. Not only are the furry girls and boys adorable (and they really are!), they are also a tangible piece of the couple’s love story. Dogs represent their past, but also their future. In that sense, they are a perfect reminder of what a wedding is all about. A celebration of the past and a doorway to the future.
Though including your dogs in your wedding is a great idea, it will naturally impact the rest of your planning. You will have to appoint someone to look after your fur babies, for example. You’ll also need to check that your venue will allow pets. That might mean changing to a different location if your first choice is not pet-friendly.
All of this probably seems pretty obvious. What might not be so self-evident, however, is the impact dogs in your wedding will have on your choice of photographer. If you have your pets in your marriage celebrations, you will want someone who specializes in candid wedding photography.
Why is that important? Why should your photographers have a documentary style that focuses on capturing moments? For two reasons. First, because staging photos with pets is very hard to do. No matter how well behaved your pooch might be, she or he still probably won’t do exactly what you and your photographers want on your wedding day. And the last thing you want is a bunch of pictures of you struggling to pose your dog.
You don’t want those photographs because they won’t reflect what your relationship with your puppy is all about. And that brings us to the second reason you’ll want documentary-style wedding photographers. What matters most and what you’ll want to remember most in 30 years are the moments you share with your beloved pets. Not some idealized version of what your life is together, but the real interactions that you have with one another. The playtime and the little expressions of love and affection that bond you together. So your wedding photographers need to be adept at capturing all that on film. And therefore, professionals who specialize in candid wedding photography are the right choice.
The moment immortalized in this image is exactly what we’re talking about. Their three family dogs were so important to this bride and her groom that they made a special point of planning time with them into their wedding day. The marriage traditions of their ceremony at St. James Catholic Church obviously did not allow for canine participants. (Very few religious Northern VA wedding venues do, obviously!) So the couple arranged to take portraits with them before tying the knot.
The groom got ready where the dogs were staying. Once he was fully in his tuxedo, we went out to the back yard for some pictures. First we got some shots of him playing fetch with the two younger golden retrievers. Then we had him pose with Sandy, his bride’s family’s dog and a beautiful, 19-year-old retriever with the sweetest personality imaginable.
After the groom left for the church, the bride arrived at the house for her own wedding photos with the dogs. We got some incredibly touching shots of her and her sister cuddling with Sandy. The pictures with the two younger dogs were, predictably, a lot more lively and full of energy. One simply could not resist trying to jump on the bride and lick her face. And even though she was fully made up and in her wedding dress, this bride did not mind a bit. As you can see in this great shot, she was very happy to receive a bit of canine love on her wedding day. She told us later during her reception at The Carlyle Club in Old Town Alexandria that a bit of dog hair on her dress was well worth the time she got to spend with Sandy and the others!
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