Ask a wedding photographer: How can I include my dog in my wedding day?

I’ve been a wedding photographer in Cheshire and North Wales for about 20 years now, and in that time I’ve become something of an expert not just on wedding photography, but on weddings in general! I find that couples often end up asking me for advice, on everything from wedding photography, to general wedding trends, and hints and tips!

I’ve often tried to offer advice in this blog; for example, you can find out here about wedding makeup that photographs perfectly, wedding photography trends for 2024, or how to create a dream wedding day on a budget.

I’ve now decided to start a series of blogs called “Ask a wedding photographer…”, which aim to answer some of the questions I get asked most frequently. A lot of them relate to wedding photography, but some are just about weddings in general. Hopefully you find it helpful 🙂 And remember, I’m always happy to chat if you have any questions about your big day.

So… how can you include your dog in your wedding day?

Recently I wrote about wedding photography trends in 2024, and how I’ve noticed that more and more couples are now keen to include their furry friend in their wedding. As a wedding photographer, I have seen a huge rise in dogs at weddings over recent years and I have to say that when done well, they add so much joy and make for some great photo opportunities too! So what should you consider if you’re hoping to include your dog in your wedding day?

Choose a dog friendly wedding venue

This may sound obvious, but not all wedding venues are dog friendly, and I mean this is in more than one way. First of all, you need to check if your preferred venue actually allows dogs. Secondly, once you have confirmation of this, you should check that the venue is actually suitable for you and your dog’s needs- for example, if you have a large dog then make sure that the rooms are big enough and there aren’t numerous antiques at tail-wagging height!

Introduce your dog to the venue before your wedding day

Once you have chosen your perfect dog friendly wedding venue it is important to make sure that your dog is familiar with the venue ahead of the big day. Try to take your dog to visit at least once ahead of the wedding to ensure that they are comfortable and calm in the environment. 

Arrange a quiet space for them

Sometimes, dogs need time out from busy, bustling situations, especially if it’s something a bit out of the ordinary. Wedding days can be hectic, with lots going on and lots of different people. As much as most dogs love the excitement, they also need space to relax and take a nap. Speak to your venue ahead of your wedding and ask them if they can arrange a quiet space to accommodate this. You can even arrange to bring your dog’s familiar bed and toys on the day to help them settle.

Enlist help

As much as you may want to care for your dog yourself as you usually would, it is just not possible on your wedding day. It is important that you arrange for other people to look after your dog’s needs, from bringing them to the venue and getting them ready (see next point!), to feeding and walking them throughout the day. You may want to choose a select few family members or friends who your dog is already familiar with to do this, or you could even hire a professional dog chaperone service.

Dress them for the occasion

Whether you are including your dog in the wedding ceremony or as a special guest, you may want to consider dressing them up, providing that this won’t cause them any distress or discomfort of course. How far you go with this is your call: from floral leads through to bow ties, there is an array of options for canine occasion dressing!

Give them a role in the wedding

I have captured some fantastic wedding photography where dogs have played a role in the wedding: these shots never fail to make people smile and they are so eye-catching. Some brides like to have their dog as part of their bridal party and have them walking down the aisle. Some brides and grooms include their dog in a special little photoshoot with just the couple.

If you would like to include your pet in your wedding feel free to contact me for advice on how this can work really well when it comes to your wedding photos. I’m a wedding photographer in Cheshire, Chester and North Wales, and I’m happy to give tips on which wedding venues are dog friendly. I’d love to help with your plans; please get in touch today.