If you haven’t had a good cry today, get ready to break out the tissues. As we all know, weddings are full of criers — I can’t get through a vow ceremony without turning into an overly romantic pile of mush — but when there’s a terminally ill dog added to the equation, things get even worse.
Meet Charlie, an adorable black Labrador who was found abandoned 15 years ago in a shopping cart by veterinarian Kelly O’Connell. Earlier this month, O’Connell married fellow vet James Garvin in a gorgeous outdoor ceremony in Buena Vista, Colorado. Charlie, along with the couple’s other pup, was also in attendance and part of the ceremony.
I am home from a trip up to Buena Vista to shoot the beautiful wedding of the family of one of my dearest friends. I am still processing all that went down and will have MANY more photos to share – including one of the most heartwarming showings of love for a dog and family I've ever seen. Stay tuned for photos of gorgeous scenery and people who are every bit as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside. Just a warning … If you're a dog lover you'll probably want to have the tissues ready …
But what made this ceremony even more miraculous and important was the fact that Charlie, who had an aggressive brain tumor, was able to make it to the wedding.
“Charlie is one of five dogs owned by the beautiful couple whose wedding I shot last week,” wrote photographer Jennifer Dziuvenis of JenDz Photography. “He was his mom’s buddy well before she met her future husband and before she went off to Europe for vet school. Charlie has a brain tumor and is on his last few days of life. He walked around a bunch with one of the kids before the wedding and used up all his energy. He didn’t have any trouble walking down the aisle but when it was time to walk back up it he just couldn’t do it. That was when the bride’s sister said “I am NOT leaving you behind!”, scooped him up, and carried him. He’s 80 lbs. She’s 5’2″. It was one of the most powerful showings of love for family (both her sister and the Charlie dog!) I have seen. Tears. SO MANY tears.”
SO MANY tears might be an understatement.
This is Charlie, black mystery dog and beloved companion to the bride whose wedding I shot last weekend. Charlie has a brain tumor and is in his last few days of life. He was the central figure to one of the most touching displays of love for family (both human and canine) that I have seen at a wedding. Over the next day or two I'll be sharing some photos from the moment that completely wrecked me. Dog lovers, stay tuned. ❤️❤️❤️
When Charlie was brought back down the aisle, O’Connell was overjoyed. “I just kept saying, ‘you made it buddy, you made it,” she explained. “He just had a giant grin on his face.
The below photos show O’Connell’s sister and maid of honor carrying Charlie back down the aisle. Tears. So many damn tears.
Charlie is one of five dogs owned by the beautiful couple whose wedding I shot last week. He was his mom's buddy well before she met her future husband and before she went off to Europe for vet school. Charlie has a brain tumor and is on his last few days of life. He walked around a bunch with one of the kids before the wedding and used up all his energy. He didn't have any trouble walking down the aisle but when it was time to walk back up it he just couldn't do it. That was when the bride's sister said "I am NOT leaving you behind!", scooped him up, and carried him. He's 80 lbs. She's 5'2". It was one of the most powerful showings of love for family (both her sister and the Charlie dog!) I have seen. Tears. SO MANY tears.
O’Connell was reunited with her beloved pup once the ceremony was over for one of the last times. “The whole family (and the photographer …) cried their eyes out,” Dziuvenis stated. “The amount of love these people have for their animals is enough to restore anyone’s faith in humanity. These are good people Charlie is one lucky boy.”
After Charlie made his way back up the aisle with the help of the maid of honor everyone gathered around him. The bride stroked his face and told him how happy she was that he made it. The whole family (and the photographer …) cried their eyes out. The amount of love these people have for their animals is enough to restore anyone's faith in humanity. These are good people Charlie is one lucky boy.
Even Charlie looked to have shed a few tears.
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.❤
I CAN’T. Sadly Charlie has since passed away, but his memory (and these gorgeous photos) will live in. RIP Charlie, we’ll be sobbing all day.
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!!
[H/T: Elite Daily]