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RSW Living Magazine

Pets Often Included in the Big Day! Weddings, special occasions feature dogs or other animals

Oct 27, 2020 09:23PM ● By ANN MARIE O’PHELAN
Pets Often Included in the Big Day! Weddings, special occasions feature dogs or other animals [7 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

Pets are considered part of the family—and that role is increasingly extended to being part of special occasions. As Dara Dunbar notes, “We do get requests for pets in wedding pictures.” She and her husband, Brendan, own Bohemian Road Photography, a wedding photography service that is based in Fort Myers and serves all of Southwest Florida. 

Those requests are sometimes extended to engagement and reception photographs—and, yes, pets make appearances in all kinds of other formal events, such as retirement parties and baby showers. "Pets are often part of the big day," adds Brendan.

And those roles can vary. While some couples choose to have their pets in just the photos, others have them be part of the actual ceremony. Courtney and Aaron Harder got married at the Woods & Weddings venue in Arcadia on Jan. 5, 2019. Their two dogs joined in the celebration by walking up and down the aisle with them. 

 Sometimes pets even dress up for the occasion—by wearing wedding outfits, floral collars with attached wedding trinkets or bowties. And some pets are even led down the aisle with white leashes. 

While it certainly takes skill to get the right lighting, find the perfect setting and ensure the wedding party looks picture-perfect, adding pets is usually just another part of the process. Generally speaking, they are well-behaved during their poses and don’t mind sitting.

“Pets are typically easy to work with,” explains Jennifer Clark, owner of Ainslie Images Photography. It is based in Cape Coral and serves the Southwest Florida region. “However,” she adds, “puppies can be more rambunctious.” Clark requests that her clients bring “bribes” in the form of treats.

For those pets who can’t make it to the big day, they sometimes make an appearance in other ways: They may be listed or shown on wedding invitations, or possibly make their way in the form of table décor, such as on napkins or place cards. Sometimes there is a signature wedding cocktail created just to honor them! 

 So how often do pets actually appear in the pics? “I'd say about one-third of my clients want to include their pets in their family sessions,” says Clark. She’s even had a few clients set up sessions specifically for their pets. 

Dogs are the most common pets to be featured, but other pets do sometimes make appearances in formal photography sessions. “I had a client include their horse in their maternity photos a few years ago,” Clark adds. 

And it’s not unheard of to have other kinds of pets—such as cats, rabbits, reptiles and pot-bellied pigs—invited to weddings or other formal occasions. That’s especially true when those events take place in less-than-formal spots, including backyards and farms.

Ann Marie O’Phelan is a Southwest Florida resident and a regular contributor to TOTI Media.

Making Plans for Pets at Events and Parties

  • Consider whether your pet has the temperament to deal with crowds or new surroundings. 

  • Check with the venue to see if pets are allowed. Find out if there are restrictions on types and sizes of pets, and/or leash-length rules. 

  • Let the photographer know ahead of time if your pet will be included. Take your pet to the photo location beforehand so it becomes familiar with the setting.

  • Work with commands and/or take treats, and take clean-up bags. Have a helper take care of your pet if you need to focus on other tasks.

  • Figure out what part of the event your pet will attend, and how to get it there and back. For example, your pet might be at the wedding but not the reception. 

  • Check with your vet to make sure your pet is up to date on shots and has a health check. 

For More Information:

Bohemian Road Photography


[email protected]

Ainslie Images Photography


[email protected]

Woods & Weddings

3731 SW Wildcat Run Road, Arcadia