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Engagement Sessions with Pets

The best engagement photos give viewers a peek into your life. 

If you're a dog lover, cat lover (though I can't remember photographing one during an engagement shoot) or you are obsessed with cows, take the opportunity to show off your best friend! We love pets and we love photographing them.

Whether you got your dog when you first moved in together or your pup was there when your partner popped the question, it's not surprising that many couples look to include their pets in the wedding festivities. While having your dog serve as the ring bearer or flower girl may seem stressful to you (not to mention forbidden at your venue), there's nothing more adorable than having your pooch pop up in your engagement photos. Here, nine tips on including your beloved companion in your engagement session.

1. Notify your photographer.

Don't go into your engagement session without letting your photographer know about a pet appearance. It'll help your pro prep for the shoot (as well as plan for any unexpected incidents!) and get them thinking about creative ways to include your pup. It's also common courtesy to inform them and any additional shooters in case they suffer from pet allergies or are uncomfortable around dogs.

2. Confirm that pets are allowed at your shoot location.

While most public parks will allow pets, you might have trouble including your pup at a shoot at the botanical gardens or on the manicured lawn of a historic estate, as well as at any indoor facility. Always call ahead of time to confirm that your four-legged ones are welcome.

3. Make sure the location will be comfortable. 

While a summer shoot in the city may seem like the perfect weather to showcase your little white dress, hot pavement streets might prove uncomfortable for you pet's naked paws after some time. Similarly, a winter wonderland shoot in the snow could prove less than scenic for dogs unaccustomed to the cold, and even painful for those sensitive to the salt sprinkled on icy streets. 

4. Dress the part...

As cute as your pooches are au naturel, there's nothing wrong with having them dress the part in a puppy tux, bow tie or a fun fall sweater. Having a flower-filled fête or a garden-themed wedding? Give guests a glimpse of the nuptials by adorning your pet with a flower garland or a leaf wreath.

5. ...but don't overdo it.

Playing doggy dress up? Keep pup-ccessories to a minimum with simple bow ties and collars in lieu of onesies. If you do go for a full tux look, make sure that the clothes don't create any discomfort for your canine. If you go with collars or floral wreaths, make sure that they don't pose a chocking hazard or are toxic to your pet. (Your florist could help you source a safe option if you do want to use real blooms).

6. Bring treats.

This is crucial, particularly when you'll need your pet to sit still or lay down to pose for a photo. Give them treats to incentivize good behavior or when they're looking like they need a pick-me-up. You think you're the only one who's exhausted by all this picture taking?

7. Avoid long sessions.

Limit pet participation to a short segment—especially if you have a young or a particularly energetic pet. After some time, they're bound to lose interest and stop behaving altogether, giving you less of a chance for a good shot.

8. Enlist help.

Unless you're shooting the engagement session at or close to home, hire a pet sitter or enlist help of a friend to watch your dog or take them home when they're done with their shot. This way, you won't have to worry about them getting restless, feeding them or giving them water, and you can focus all your attention on getting the perfect photos of just the two of you.

9. Be realistic and have fun. 

Don't get stressed out if the unexpected happens and your pet starts misbehaving or refuses to sit still and look at the camera. Allow your pet to get used to the new environment and play and interact with them like you do at home to get them comfortable. If your dog refuses to participate, even for a short period of time, don't let it ruin the entire shoot. Scratch the pet portion, have your dog watcher whisk the pup away and enjoy the solo session with your partner.


First Look Photos

"We did a first look and it was awesome! While I am a fan of the tradition of the groom seeing the bride for the first time at the ceremony, we got to spend more time together afterwards, we enjoyed our cocktail hour and the photos are super cute and emotional." 

Wedding First Look Pros 

“Couples should consider the first look for more than just the practicality of timing,” says Caroline Lima. “It’s a great decision for couples who want to spend some quiet time together before the ceremony. If you’re nervous, having a first look and seeing your partner is a great way to ease that feeling.”

“Personally, I loved having a first look at my own wedding,” remembers Ashley Sawtelle. “It gave us a moment before the day officially started to connect with one another and take a deep breath.”

Of course, practicality can’t be ignored. “A first look enables you to take a lot of your photos before the ceremony so you can get to cocktail hour and your reception sooner,” Lima says.

“A first look definitely does not spoil the ceremony,” says Carrie Patterson. “You’ll be overwhelmed with emotion no matter what, so if you want to see your partner, don’t skip it.”

You’ll get some privacy. “It’s a whirlwind once guests arrive, and having a first look gives you and your partner a few moments together before all of your family and friends surround you,” Sawtelle says.

It can be highly emotional, says Cat Mayer. “A wedding is an intimate, emotional experience, and a first look means I can capture a couple together in that moment. Yes, walking down the aisle is emotional too, but you’re not together in those photographs.”

“If you’re having a winter ceremony, first-look wedding photos are critical if you want portraits taken with natural light,” Patterson says. “The sun will be down between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m., so this is your chance for pictures in the sun.”

Entertainment

“You gotta fight. For your right. To parrrrrty.”


What guests will remember most about your wedding isn't how it looked but how it made them feel — the moving ceremony, the final send-off, and all of the fun revelries in between. You already know the importance of great photos and delicious food. Remember that a rocking band or DJ can make or break your wedding reception. We have worked with some great ones and we can give you our recommendations if requested.