The story behind the latest viral wedding photo

Posted at 10:53 AM, Jan 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-15 16:00:03-05

It's said that a photograph is worth a thousand words.

For one South Dakota photographer, she's captured a moment that has thousands of people across the country saying a whole lot about it--family, friends, news media and bloggers included.

Maddie Peschong, owner of Mad Photo and Design, posted a photo from a recent wedding on her Facebook page.

In the photo you see bride Valerie Parrott kneeling down while her dog, Bella, rests her head on her leg.

Actually, Bella is Valerie's service dog. Bella helps keep Valerie calm when her blood pressure rises by providing a distraction, said Peschong, who had permission from Valerie to talk about Bella's work.

What some may not have read yet is that, according to Peschong, seconds before that particular frame was shot, Bella was actually licking Valerie's hand, an action she's learned works to help care for Valerie when she picks up on a particular sign of distress. Licking works as the distraction.

“My mom had just finished helping me get into my dress and told me my anxiety was getting high,” Parrott told ABC News, according to their article. “I asked my photographer if we could have a few minutes together so Bella could try to lower my anxiety and get my heart rate back to normal.”

RELATED: Bride says 'I Do' with service dog by her side | ABC News

One thing that Peschong wants people to know is that Bella is a big part of Val and Andrew's (the groom) lives, but that Bella was in the wedding because she was working. 

Another photo shared since the first picture went viral shows Bella in an extravagant pink tutu running down the aisle toward the newlyweds. 

"Did you expect this to go viral?" I asked. 

"No. I mean I never did, especially with this particular wedding. I just thought it was a sweet photo of a girl and her dog. It was a beautiful wedding and a beautiful day. All weddings are beautiful."

But, this wedding in particular has an extra story to tell.

"That's probably the most special thing that's come out of this," said Peschong. "(It's) giving Valerie a platform to talk about these service dogs. They're used for all sorts of invisible things, not necessarily just things you can see or hear."

“It’s important to see that aspect because a lot of people forget that the bond you share with the service dog is what makes sure you, as a handler, know you can put your life in their hands, or paws, every day,” said Peschong in an interview with ABC. “It makes the difference of being able to live a normal, happy life.”