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Some of the most beautiful wedding photos are also staged. This isn't one of those photos.
"This just happened," wedding photographer Jen Dziuvenis of JenDz Photography told TODAY in a phone interview. "Because that’s how these people are. And this is what you do for family."
Even with tears clouding her viewfinder, Dziuvenis was able to catch the moment when Charlie, a 15-year-old dog with an advanced brain tumor, was carried down the aisle during the recessional of Kelly McConnell and James Garvin's Buena Vista, Colorado nuptials earlier in September. Charlie had been found in a shopping cart by McConnell when he was just a puppy, and he's lived with her ever since.
"We were at 10,000 feet elevation and it was just too much for him," explained Dziuvenis. "When they came to walk back up the aisle, I saw the bridesmaid just scoop him out and carry him. Everyone was bawling."
At the start of the ceremony, Charlie had made the trek down the aisle all on his own. But he was unable to walk back later in the day. That's when the bride's maid-of-honor stepped in to carry him — yes, all 80 pounds of him.
Nine days later, the beloved black Lab passed away.
"It was so sad, but also so amazing," Dziuvenis said.
For her, witnessing the whole thing has been surreal and incredibly gratifying all at once. "There’s so much negative stuff in the news right now. The election cycle is really nasty, there are all these global issues."
Garvin and his bride's love for animals is hardly a secret. Both are veterinarians and they have five dogs altogether. According to their photographer, their commitment to those animals is heartening.
"It’s so cool to be a part of this story that, behind its sadness, it such a positive thing. It's a beautiful display of love for family and for animals."