More than anything, bride Kelly O’Connell wanted her black lab Charlie to be part of her wedding. She’d adopted him as a puppy from a shelter when she was just 19. The two were inseparable for 15 years. He moved with her across the country, staying by her side during her training to become a veterinarian. When O’Connell fell in love with fellow veterinarian James Garvin, and they moved in together, Charlie came too—naturally.
So of course, O’Connell wanted Charlie to participate in her big day. However, he’d been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Despite good care, his health was failing. By the time the wedding day rolled around, Charlie couldn’t even walk. He was having regular seizures, and it was clear that his days were numbered.
During the ceremony, O’Connell’s sister carried Charlie down the aisle. The resulting photos have become a sensation,. Their photographer Jen Dziuvenis wrote of the experience on Facebook, “Dog people are the best people.”
O’Connell told the Washington Post that when her sister carried Charlie up to meet her at the altar, she dropped to her knees. “I just kept saying ‘you made it buddy, you made it,'” she said.
Thank you to those who have been following along with Charlie's story! Moments like these are why I love wedding photography. Meeting people during some of the most interesting and important times in their lives and preserving those moments forever is one of the most fulfilling things I do. When I first started doing photography professionally I never in a million years thought I'd want to shoot weddings and now I can't imagine doing anything else. Getting to capture moments like these is such a privilege and I am so grateful to the amazing couples that let me in to their lives. I will keep you all posted on how the Charlie dog is doing. <3
Because of her work as a veterinarian, O’Connell knew well that Charlie didn’t have much time left. She explained to the Post that she worried she might have been pushing it too far to include him in her wedding. However, she doesn’t regret her decision in the least. “I just think he looks so happy in the pictures,” she said.
Charlie passed away just a few days after the wedding. He lives on in the memory of all who loved him, and now, he’s also known to millions of dog lovers around the world.
I know a lot of you have been following Charlie's story and I wanted to give you one final update. He was found abandoned in a shopping cart and lived 15 amazing years with people who loved him. We should all be so lucky. ❤️❤️Last night he passed away. Sending all the good thoughts to his family. You were loved, Charlie bear!!
Images via JenDZ Photography