More and more we are seeing dogs taking part in weddings! Once upon a time couples met, courted, got married, then got a dog or had a child. These days most of my couples are getting puppies and have dogs (and children!) long before they decide to get married. Just because someone’s baby has fur doesn’t mean they should be left out of the festivities and wedding celebrations! Let’s go over some basics when it comes to including your dog in your wedding…
1. Make sure the venue will allow you to bring your dog! This is most important – find out well in advance so you can decide if you want to book that venue, or leave FurBaby at home if no dogs are allowed.
2. Ask your Officiant if they are ok with working with dogs – not everyone is! (I am owned by a little Terrier so I am happy to work with your dog, I just ask that they are kept from jumping on me). If your Officiant knows the plan, they can be ready for the mishaps that often come with including dogs – and be ready for a good laugh!
3. Bring your dog to the events leading up to your big day so they get used to the people, places, and all those new smells! You know when you take your FurBaby to a new place and all they want to do is check out every nook and cranny? Now imagine bringing them to a place where thousands and thousands of people and meals have been – pure doggy joy! So much to smell! Let FurBaby get it out of their system in the days leading up to your wedding.
4. Make sure to have lots of treats on hand at the alter and along the way! Your groomsmen might be able to have some cookies on them in case FurBaby wont pay attention during the ceremony. Much like children, dogs tend to do whatever the mood strikes when all eyes are on them.
5. Assume your dog will be at their worst – super excited, wont listen, pulling on the leash. Unless they are very well trained to walk, don’t assume they understand to heel as they come down the aisle, and NEVER assume they will be capable of walking alone and unleashed. Even the best trained and well behaved dog can lose control when all of your friends and family are watching!
6. Make sure you have one person who is not in the wedding party assigned to take care of your dog at your wedding. It’s a long day and FurBaby will need food, water, shade, and attention as well as bio breaks and naps. This person also needs to make sure your dog doesn’t jump up at people which often happens when they are excited – ripped dresses and pantyhose will put a damper on your day. Keep FurBaby leashed at all times, especially at outdoor weddings – we don’t want them going missing, or worse.
7. Don’t tie the rings to the dog. I performed a marriage ceremony on a beautiful estate and it was obvious the couple had thought of every detail. The photos were gorgeous and we had fantastic weather. The only glitch was when the ring bearer Schnauzer broke loose from her decorative leash while coming down the aisle, and decided running all over the grounds was much more fun than being in the wedding party. A nimble groomsman managed to catch our delinquent ring bearer – fortunately the rings were still attached to her – and kept a firm grip on her for the rest of the ceremony. Give the rings to a groomsman and let FurBaby be an honourary member of the wedding party.
8. Decide where your dog will go after your ceremony and how – who is picking them up, do they need keys to your house, or is FurBaby going to a local boarding kennel? I suggest hiring a professional dog trainer to help out on your big day if you don’t have anyone experienced with dogs. Most trainers also do overnight boarding and home visits so you can send your dog home knowing they will be safe, and well loved!
9. Make sure anything your dog will be around isn’t toxic to them – food, alcohol, plants, flowers, adornments and decorations can all pose a threat to your precious FurBaby. Guests will feed them, they will find scraps and empties, some dogs (like mine) love to tear things apart and can be quite destructive when they are stressed out. Best to enjoy them and let them get home to bed once the dancing starts
Looking for some fun ways to include your dog? Check out these great ideas.