Essential tips for having a dog at your wedding in the Bay Area

As a wedding photographer, I’ve seen it all, from furry friends as ring bearers to four-legged performers stealing the show. If you’re thinking of including your beloved pooch in your big day, here are 8 things you should keep in mind to ensure it’s a tail-wagging success – for all involved!

1. Plan, plan, plan: Before you decide to bring your furry friend to your wedding, make sure your venue is pet-friendly and arrange for a designated handler to look after them during the ceremony and reception. Also consider your guests and determine if anyone might be scared or allergic! Consider logistics such as their transportation and access for their handler for their drop off and pick up. 

Bridge and groom in tuxedo posing with small black and white dog, documentary style photo, botanical garden wedding

2. Be honest with yourself: Not all dogs will do well at large, bustling events like weddings – and that’s ok! If your dog becomes easily agitated or frightened, it may be best to leave them at home. Perhaps they are better suited for an intimate photo shoot with just your photographer!

wedding guest couple posing with wedding dogs, cocker spaniel, black and white dogs, formal wedding, sonoma county wedding

3. Dress them to impress: You want your dog to look as good as you do on your wedding day! Make sure their outfit is comfortable and doesn’t impede their movement. A simple bandana or bow tie will do the trick. Avoid accoutrement that might end up falling off and getting gnawed on.

documentary photo of wedding couple dressed in all white posing with small terrier dog, country wedding, outdoor wedding, documentary photo style, sonoma county wedding

4. Hydration is key: Weddings can be long, tiring events, and your dog will need plenty of water to stay hydrated. Make sure you have a water bowl readily available for them throughout the day. Additionally you will want to prep their handler with their food, treats, doggie bags, and perhaps even some toys. 

5. Never leave them alone: Your dog should never be left alone during your wedding, even for a few minutes. They may become anxious or disoriented without you there, and could end up running off or causing a disturbance. Again, make sure someone is aware of their responsibilities regarding your beloved dog!

bay area Indian wedding, cultural wedding, dog at wedding, dress up dog at wedding, bay area documentary photographer, bride and groom with dog candid photo

6. Accidents happen: Accidents can happen, even with the most well-behaved dogs. The last thing you want to deal with is a less than savory stain at a historic venue or on you or your guests’ outfit. Make sure you have cleaning supplies handy in case your dog has an accident during the ceremony or reception.

dog at wedding, dog walking down aisle, ring bearer dog, formal wedding attire, documentary style wedding photographer, bay are wedding, san francisco wedding photographer, large dog at wedding

7. Capture the moment: Make sure your photographer gets some shots of your furry friend on your big day. After all, you’ve put in all the effort to make sure they are well taken care of and smiling! 

8. Have fun: The most important thing is to make sure everyone, including your furry friend, is having a good time and no one is stressed out or uncomfortable. Have a backup plan with the handler in case something goes awry or the pooch needs a rest from the excitement of the event!

Incorporating your dog into your wedding can be a wonderful way to add a special touch to your big day, but it’s essential to be prepared and ensure that both you and your furry friend are having fun. By keeping these eight things in mind, you’ll be well on your way to creating a memorable and stress-free wedding experience for everyone involved.

Lesbian wedding couple with two dogs at wedding, dogs in rainbow bandanas, Olema house wedding, Bay area Olema House wedding photographer, documentary wedding photographer.

San Francisco City Hall Documentary Wedding Photographer

San Francisco City Hall Documentary Wedding Photographer

J and M had a sweet ceremony in the rotunda at San Francisco’s City Hall. I love how their faces glowed with happiness right after their ring exchange and kiss. It was a blissfully quiet day, as far as San Francisco City Hall is concerned. This gave us the opportunity to explore some of the lovelier parts of the grand historical building. J and M and their small wedding party brought along not one, but two ridiculously cute dogs.

Engagement Photos Dogs – Boston Arnold Arboretum

Engagement Photos with Dogs – Boston, Arnold Arboretum

Danny and Diana met me with their two dogs at Arnold Arboretum in Boston for their engagement photos. It was early fall, but we were able to find a few places where the fall foliage had begun to blossom (blossom? do we say that about fall foliage?) They met in San Diego, California while Danny was stationed there with the Navy, but now they have returned to Danny’s childhood home, Boston. Their energy was electric, and it was delightful to find all the hidden gems amongst the forests, and gardens, and hills of Arnold Arboretum. They were smart to bring Danny’s dad along so that there was somebody to watch after the dogs while we made some photos of the two of them alone. Their dogs were remarkably well behaved, and were even willing to sit for a portrait, just the two of them. Doggie treats were, of course, our good friends when we were attempting to get them to sit still for a portrait. The light was incredible, the temperature was temperate, and we all had a lovely little romp through the arboretum.

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