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How to Include Your Animals In Your Engagement Session

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Couple holding their dog together and smiling at their adorable pet as it looks at the camera; image overlaid with text that reads How to Include Your Animals in Your Engagement Session

Marriages and engagements are about love – more than that, they’re about family. And the truth is that the animals in our lives really do become like family to us. It feels only right to celebrate with them, too! If you’re wondering about holding an engagement photoshoot with pets, I say: go for it. Read through this guide for all the things you should consider when you want to bring your pets into your photoshoot!

Steps for Holding an Engagement Photoshoot with Pets

Let me just say that if you ever ask me if I’m up for doing an engagement photoshoot with pets – the answer is yes! Animals are so much fun, and they bring such energy and joy into the shoot. It really comes across in the photos. But if you want to do an engagement photoshoot with pets, make sure you do these five things first:

#1 – Talk to your photographer about including your animals

This is a simple one, but if you want to do a photoshoot with pets, talk about it with the photographer first! This isn’t just to make sure that they’re okay with it, but it’s also so that they can help you come up with ideas for the session.

It’s likely that your photographer has done engagement photoshoots with pets before, so they’ll have some knowledge about the best way to do it. They might even have a list of dog-friendly parks or beaches or horse-friendly trails. They will help you figure out where you’re going and what you’re going to do, which brings us to my next point:

#2 – Be strategic about your location

Planning an engagement photoshoot with pets is really different from planning a shoot without them. You have to think through your location carefully – it’s usually better to go somewhere you’ve been before with your animals so that they’re calm and you know there won’t be problems with them.

Couple share a smile as the look at their horse during their engagement session, taken by Makayla McGarvey Photography

Parks, trails, and beaches are good places to have engagement shoots with animals, but you might even want to consider your own home. Your house or backyard is a great place to spend some time – you don’t have to stay there for the whole engagement shoot, but having part of it there is a wonderful way to capture you and your pets at your most relaxed!

#3 – Plan things to do

When you’re thinking about including animals in your engagement session, make sure you plan things to do! Snuggling with your pet is great, but it’s only going to get us so far in an engagement session. Some of the best photos happen in candid, action-shot kind of moments!

Couple holds hands as they smile at each other, with the guy holding the leash to their adorable dog, during their engagement session

So bring a ball to throw or toys to play with. Plan a walk or a ride. Even giving your animal a bath or washing it down could be a sweet (and potentially hilarious!) activity to do with your fiancé. 

#4 – Pack well

This is a huge one. You might decide to have your engagement session at your own home – and, depending on your animals, that might be your only option – and if you do, then this tip is irrelevant. But if you’re going to be bringing your animal with you anywhere, make sure you bring even more than you think you need.

Close-up shot of couple cuddling their cute puppy as it looks adorably at the camera, taken by Makayla McGarvey

For a photoshoot with pets, you’ll want to think about bringing:

– A leash

– Water and a water bowl

– Snacks and treats

– Toys

– Poop bags

– Optional: accessories like different collars, outfits, or decorations

#5 – Organize your session into sections

In an engagement session, we’re going to want all of the adorable shots with you and your pet – but you’ll also definitely want some photos of just the two of you together. That’s why it’s so important to plan out your engagement session. I’d heavily suggest that if you want to have a photoshoot with pets, you invite someone else along too to help you manage the animals.

Plan to take all the photos with your animals in the first section of your photoshoot, and then your friend could hold bridles or leashes while you post for the second section just the two of you. Alternatively, you could ask someone to come by and pick up your pets and take them home for you so that you can focus on the photoshoot with no interruptions.

Either way, don’t wing it! You don’t want to come into an engagement photoshoot with pets and have no plan. Having someone take care of your pets means that you can be fully present in the photoshoot with no distractions, free to enjoy the day.

What NOT to do in a photoshoot with pets:

So let’s boil this down to a list of my top dos and don’ts for a great engagement photoshoot with pets:

DON’T:

– Surprise your photographer with your pets

– Put your pet into an environment where it’s going to be aggressive or uncomfortable

– Rush the session: make sure you give yourself plenty of time with your pet and without

– Wear something super fancy or fussy – leave your beautiful clothes for an outfit change after your pet gets picked up!

– Expect your pet to sit still

– Forget to bring water

DO:

– Make a clear plan

– Organize time without your pet

– Choose pet-friendly locations

– Hold the photoshoot somewhere your pet is comfortable

– Pack everything your pet will need…. and more

– Consider bringing a change of clothes

– Have fun!

You’ll Cherish the Photos from Your Photoshoot with Pets

I hope that this blog has helped you think through the practical side of having an engagement photoshoot with your pet. It’s an incredible, heartwarming idea that’s going to be a lot of fun to shoot and even more fun to look back on. 

Couple holds on to their pets, with the girl holding their dog and the guy holding their cat, during their engagement photoshoot with pets in the bedroom

Once you’ve brought your pets into your engagement photoshoot, why stop there? Pets can be such a fun part of a wedding day! If you’re thinking about how you want your pets to feature in your wedding, I have a guide for holding the perfect horse wedding – check it out!

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Close-up photo of engaged couple cuddling their dog; image overlaid with text that reads How to Include your Animals in Your Engagement Session
Engaged couple smiling as they pose with their pet horse; image overlaid with text that reads How to Include Your Animals in Your Engagement Session

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Specializing in Elopement & destination wedding photography

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