Article: Using Animals in your Wedding Photographs

Because your wedding photographs are designed to reflect your personalities, passions and interests as well as act as mementoes of this most important day, many couples wish to include their pets or other animals in them because of their love for these ones. This can be done very successfully and tastefully, but can also look bizarre if done incorrectly. It is vital that your photographer has worked on such shoots before and that he or she has wedding pictures that include animals in their professional portfolio.

Because animals represent nature and even wildness, they can be used in a very intimate wedding shoot where the bride and groom are, either partly or completely, nude. These animals can be real for a dramatic effect or stuffed for a more humorous effect.

Horses are animals of great elegance and esteem. Using a powerful horse in wedding photographs adds class to any picture. The couple can walk amongst them, ride them, sit on them or admire them from afar. This is even more effective if one or both the bride and groom have owned or ridden horses in the past. For a more fun picture, have the bride galloping on one of these stunning animals with her wedding gown hitched above her knees and her veil being whipped back by the wind.

For couples that enjoy dramatic, even eerie, settings, use a snake or bird of prey as the animal 'prop' in your pictures. A bride with dark, smoky eyes, black nails and a long python draped over her shoulders is sure to spark more than a few conversations. Visit a sanctuary for vultures or eagles and ask the qualified personnel to assist you to capture striking pictures of you, as a couple, and these magnificent avian species as you interact with them.

Elephant back safaris are very popular amongst tourists, especially in places like South Africa and India. There are few animals as majestic as the elephant, as its insight and intuition just comes across as part of its natural aura. Because these animals were long kept by Indian royals, they also carry an undeniable elegance and superiority about them, adding much to the look and feel of your pictures. Climb onto the backs of one of these gentle giants, feed them or walk through the countryside with them while wearing your full wedding attire for a real 'bushveld' touch to your pictures.

Alternatively, visit the zoo in your wedding gear and just have fun as the photographer snaps away. Be playful with the monkeys, feed tall giraffes out of your hands, go nose-to-nose with a seal; be imaginative and innovative. This is a fun approach to including wildlife in your pictures and is especially appropriate if one or both of you works as a vet, nature conservationist or guide.

Using domestic animals or pets in your photographs is a little trickier than the more impressive wildlife. Your scruffy pooch may be beautiful in your eyes, but this beauty might not translate all that well on film. However, it is a very special thing to have memories of your beloved pet included in some of your wedding photographs. To truly reflect the character of your dog, cat, bird or mouse, act out an everyday scene with it. If you play Frisbee with your dog, do this in your photographs. Or watch your mouse spin on its wheel while the cat looks on with relish. If your pet is quite different (e.g. a Vervet Monkey or a tortoise), the same applies. Make the animal feel comfortable while it expresses itself and shows off the relationship between the two of you.

Your wedding photographs provide memories of this big day and rekindle the warmth and passion between you. For this reason, it is of utmost importance that they are tasteful and reminiscent of the ambience and romance of the day.