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Wedding musts: The dress, dessert ­— and the dog?

| Friday, June 21, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
Cover of 'Wedding Dogs: A Celebration of Holy Matrimony' (Quirk, $19.95)
"Wedding Dogs"
Cover of 'Wedding Dogs: A Celebration of Holy Matrimony' (Quirk, $19.95)
Michael and Jenna Palmieri's dog Zooey didn't make it to the Monroeville wedding ceremony, but was a part of the prenuptial primping. From 'Wedding Dogs: A Celebration of Holy Muttrimony.'
Brittany Anderson Photography
Michael and Jenna Palmieri's dog Zooey didn't make it to the Monroeville wedding ceremony, but was a part of the prenuptial primping. From 'Wedding Dogs: A Celebration of Holy Muttrimony.'
Oscar, a Jack Russell terrior, didn't like his tiny tuxedo, but he wore it well. From ''Wedding Dogs: A Celebration of Muttrimony.'
Wendy Hickok Photography
Oscar, a Jack Russell terrior, didn't like his tiny tuxedo, but he wore it well. From ''Wedding Dogs: A Celebration of Muttrimony.'
Brides are turning to their canine companions to share their big day.
Michael Will Photographers
Brides are turning to their canine companions to share their big day.
Puppy love makes a natural transition into wedding photos.
Charlene Potts
Puppy love makes a natural transition into wedding photos.
A photo of a bridal couple and their pets lends itself to more personal thank you cards.
Jenny Karlsson Photography
A photo of a bridal couple and their pets lends itself to more personal thank you cards.

Engaged couples are always looking for ways to make their weddings original.

A recent trend is incorporating the family dog into the celebration.

The practise is documented in “Wedding Dogs: A Celebration of Holy Muttrimony” (Quirk Books, $19.95) by Katie Preston Toepfer. The book is a compilation of photos and stories of couples who opted to showcase their four-legged friends on their big days.

“The images are so special, I think, because weddings are so emotional,” says Toepfer, a native of Sydney, Australia. “This pure joy is shared with a couple's close family members, friends and furry companions, too — I thought this was just beautiful.”

Photographers are after capturing moments, and having your dog by your side while you get ready, during the ceremony, or even after at the reception offers plenty of beautiful, candid photo opportunities.

“There is one image in particular that sticks with me most of all,” says Veronica Varos of Veronica Varos Photography, Fox Chapel, about a wedding she shot last year. “It's a shot of the dog pushing the door open to the bedroom where the bride was getting dressed. The moment had the same feel of a bride's father seeing his daughter for the first time in her wedding dress. He was almost mirroring the bride's excitement and anxiety, which I thought was so adorable.”

Even if the dog is not present at the actual ceremony, there are several other ways to include your precious pup.

“Sometimes (couples) bring their dog along for their engagement session and use a picture for a matted print as a guest book or their seating chart, and, sometimes, the table numbers are pictures of the couple's pets through the years,” says Jenny Karlsson of Jenny Karlsson Photography, Swissvale, who photographed a bride's and her sister's Yorkies for her thank-you cards.

“Pets play such a huge part in our daily lives,” she says, “and to be able to have them be part of the wedding, in one way or another, means that the whole family is united.”

Saying your vows with a pup in tow can be challenging, so if your dog is there on the big day, Toepfer, pet mom to King Charles spaniels Violet and Mr. Darcy, offers this advice: “Make sure you have someone who can look after your dog on the day. But most of all, have fun with it. When dogs do the unpredictable, like bark when you're pronounced husband and wife, enjoy it. It's your dog cheering you on with the rest of your guests' applause!”

If you do decide to incorporate your dog into your special day, you will have plenty of photographers willing to make it work for you and your pooch.

More and more, couples are looking to include their dogs in their engagement photos, family portraits and wedding days, report Derrick and Aly Bash, Studio Bash Photography, South Side and Mt. Washington.

“As dog lovers ourselves, we're more than happy to accommodate them!” they say via email.

“Because after all, says Charlene Potts of Custom Portraits by Charlene, Aliquippa, “who better to be by your side at the altar than your best friend?”

Emma Deihle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7834 or edeihle@tribweb.com.

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