Dogs In Weddings7 tips for including your dog in your wedding
Dogs are hands down my very favorite wedding guests. I love the personality, unpredictability, and smiles they bring to an event. Surprisingly, even the craziest of doggos can be incredibly helpful in calming any start-of-the-day nerves or pre-ceremony jitters. Let’s be honest, our pets are absolutely family; for many of us, considered our children. And while your cat RSVP’d “with regrets” because of their world domination plans that day, your pup has already freshly pressed their favorite leash and is waiting to be your plus one. So, if you can’t imagine saying “I Do” without your best (furry) friend, consider these tips to ensuring everyone, including Fido, has the best time.
1. Ask If Your Venue is Dog-Friendly.
This is obviously a big one. There are plenty of venues that allow pets, however many have restrictions as to where they’re allowed to be and/or the size of the dog itself. Great Danes love weddings as much as Shi Tzus, so be sure to be specific when you inquire. If your venue is not pet-friendly, consider including your pup at your getting ready location or having a few photos taken at a nearby park before you arrive at the venue.
2. Have Realistic Expectations of your Dog.
Another big one. As much as you may want to include them, if your dog isn’t social or gets anxious easily, having them there is only going to set both them and your expectations up for failure. If you know your dog is their best self away from the chaos, consider including them in your engagement photos instead of the wedding day. This is also a great option if you are having a destination wedding or if your planned venue isn’t dog-friendly.
3. Embrace the chaos and play to your dog’s personality.
Most dogs I’ve come across are not the type you’re going to trust to carry your precious wedding rings down the aisle. If your pup is high-energy and super social, having them come down the aisle on leash with a wedding party member might be a fun idea. If your dog is more quiet, you could instead just have them sit at the front with a family member. If they are going to be included in the ceremony, bring them to the rehearsal if possible so that they know what to expect and you can practice ahead of time. No matter what part your dog plays, remember that dogs will be dogs and it’s best to take all “plans” with a grain of salt.
4. Be prepared.
I suggest treats, (food if they’ll be there all day), water, poop bags, and a towel, as well as an extra collar and leash.
5. Assign a designated dog-handler.
Someone whose entire job that day is to ensure your dog is comfortable and that they are where they need to be when they need to be there. This is a great job for that extra person who’s left over after you’ve already assigned all the reading, candle lighting, and ushering duties. Perhaps your Best Man’s partner, who you love but not enough to include them in the wedding party. Or the cousin you only see at Thanksgiving. If no one is available, consider hiring a professional sitter. This is especially helpful if your dog can only stay for a limited time, or gets stressed out quickly. Hiring someone to pick up your pet at the venue and watch them overnight frees up worry about your dog’s wellbeing and and simplifies the dog-logistics for the rest of the day.
6. Schedule time for photos with your dog.
Be sure that your wedding photo timeline (which I’m here to help you create) includes a specific time for photos of you, your partner, and your pup. Having these photos planned into your timeline guarantees that whoever you’ve put in charge of your dog (see tip 5) knows the location and time photos are planned. This is especially helpful on hot Summer days to ensure that your dog is only out in the heat for the duration of their specific photo time.
7. Dress the part.
While I have seen dogs in full tuxedos (a la Dumb and Dumber – see below), there are all sorts of ways to dress your pet. If you’re dog hates wearing clothes, there are lots of cute collar-bow-ties out there (check out Etsy to find one that matches your wedding colors). Some pet groomers will even do doggy nail polish, if that’s something you’re into. My very favorite dog-apparel option is the floral collar. Ask your florist if this is something you can add to your bouquet order, or if you fancy a little DIY, you can check out this video on creating your own floral dog collar from Mayesh Floral: Floral Dog Collar DIY