Having your four-legged family members attend your wedding can make the day even more special, and provide some amazing photo opportunities. We spoke to wedding photographer, Sarah Vivienne for her tips for getting those perfect poses from your pooch!
Dogs at weddings are a great photo opportunity! But getting great photos isn’t easy! If you’re planning to have your dog at your wedding, here are my top tips on how to get the best photos possible whilst keeping your dog happy.
Book a dog friendly wedding photographer.
Choose someone who gets that your dog is family and understands the importance to you of having some great photos of and with them. And it’s even better if they have experience of photographing dogs because they’ll instinctively know how to bring out the best in your dog.
Remember what they’re good at.
Some dogs are really sociable and will love saying hello to everyone. Others might be scared by lots of guests, kids running around or loud noises like church bells. Only ask your dog to do things you think they’ll be comfortable with. That way they’ll be more cooperative and look their best in the photos.
All the new sights, sounds and smells could be overwhelming for your dog. Take them for a walk around your venue and let them see you in your suit/dress beforehand to make it easier for them on the day. If you’re having a pre-wedding shoot, include them in that too so they can get to know your photographer and feel more relaxed around them.
Brief your photographer.
Tell your photographer when your dog will be around and let them know things like the breed, likes and special skills. Do they stay well? Do they love a tummy rub? Can they high-five? This will give your photographer a chance to prepare some ideas.
Walk them first.
If your dog has been exercised and run off some energy before they come to the wedding they’ll be calmer and more obedient for photos. Just be sure to avoid mud and water!
Have someone ready (a pet chaperone is perfect) with treats.
It works best if they’re high value and small so break bigger ones into smaller pieces. For example, my dogs go nuts for grated cheese and will sit to attention as soon as they smell it! Have the treats in your hand (no bags because they’re not photogenic!) when you’re ready to start and give them at frequent intervals to hold their attention.
Let your photographer lead.
If there are lots of people shouting ‘sit’ and calling out your dog’s name they’ll have no idea who to listen to, let alone what to do. You stand a much better chance of getting your dog to look at the camera if you leave it to your photographer. If your dog has a favourite squeaky toy, then give that to your photographer to squeak and get Fido looking the right way.
There’s an app for that! Download iSqueek. Play the sounds and see what your dog responds best to and hand it to your photographer on the day.
Get up or down to your dog’s height.
Your photos will look better if all your heads are close together. So pick small dogs up and sit on the floor with bigger dogs.
Make sure they’re comfortable with any accessories.
Otherwise it’ll be destroyed before you have a chance to get any photos! Things like bow ties and ribbons that can be fitted onto their collar work well. Or you could find a nice coloured lead to match your wedding colour scheme. If you use fresh flowers, make sure they’re non-toxic!
Be calm and positive.
Your dog will pick up on your energy so relax and go with the flow if they’re not on their best behaviour or don’t do what you want for the photos. The unplanned moments often result in the best photos.
Sarah Vivienne works with heart-on-their sleeve couples across the UK who are searching for a documentary wedding photographer to capture their wedding.
With over a decade of experience tucked into her camera bag, Sarah specialises in capturing classic, high-end and relaxed weddings. Her versatile photography style is wedded with a discreet, laid-back luxury service and a genuine curiosity and passion for her client’s stories and wedding, allowing them to concentrate on enjoying their special day while Sarah and her team create authentically beautiful photos.
When she’s not behind the camera, you’ll find Sarah wearing bright pink wellies whilst walking in the park with her two dogs.