Your wedding day is one of the most meaningful days of your life. It’s the start of a new chapter, and of course, you want to share it with everyone who is special to you. For many of us, our dogs are near the top of that list.
For some of us, our dog has been there through bad break-ups, crazy single days, and watched us finally meet someone special and settle down. While for others, your dog may have been adopted with your partner and is your first fur baby together! However your dog came into your life, we know, they’re a huge part of it. So it makes sense to want to find a way to include your dog in your wedding.
If you want your dog to play a role in your special day, we have some ideas to help you make it happen. We’ve listed some questions you need to answer before deciding the role your dog should play. Let’s get to it and talk about how to include your dog in your wedding.
Should Your Dog Be In The Wedding?
Before making a special place for your dog in your ceremony, you need to make sure it’s logistically possible. There are several things that can get in the way of having your dog present during your wedding:
Your venue may not be dog friendly
Your dog may have anxiety around people
Your dog may not be trained well enough for such a big, important event
Thankfully, there are workarounds for all of these problems. If you have an anxious dog or the venue doesn’t allow dogs, it’ll be in your best interest to think of another way to include your dog. Time to get creative!
If your dog is not well trained, and you know you want them in the ceremony, it’s time to head back to obedience class. These sessions aren’t just important if you want your dog included in your wedding. A well-trained dog is a happy dog, and training your dog is an excellent way to start this new phase of your life.
How To Include Your Dog In Your Ceremony
If your venue allows dogs, and you know you can trust them to follow commands, there are a number of fun and meaningful ways to include your dog in your wedding ceremony:
Have your dog stand with the bridesmaids or groomsmen- Dress your dog up with a bow tie or ribbon that coordinates with your wedding colors, and have him/her stand near the bride or groom. Make sure your human maid of honor or best man is prepared to handle your dog throughout the ceremony. Your dog may already be familiar with them, but if not, allow your dog time to get used to them before the ceremony. You’ll also want to load up your maid of honor or best man with treats to keep your dog patient during the ceremony. And finally, come up with a backup plan should your dog get too antsy or anxious during the ceremony. Who will step in to take them away? And what will that look like?
Flower Dog- If your dog is the gentle type, have your flower girl walk down the aisle with your dog. Decorate the leash with greenery and flowers (make sure they’re dog safe), and let your dog escort the flower girl. Or have your dog act as
flower girl, or boy, and have a friend walk them down the aisle.
Ring Bearer- Attach a satin pillow to your dog’s back (you can easily find them online), and have your dog act as ring bearer. It may be best to trust the actual rings to your dog’s human escort.
Have your dog walk you down the aisle- It doesn’t matter if you’re a bride or a groom, being walked down the aisle by your dog is the ultimate honor. You can choose to have your pup stand with you throughout the ceremony or have a designated handler ready to whisk them away and give them treats. You should decide this based on your dog’s energy level and attention span.
If you opt to have your dog participate in the ceremony, remember to address these things:
Have someone ready to remove your dog if it seems like they may be anxious or overly excited.
Have a backup plan in case your dog is not being cooperative that day. Even a well-trained dog can be unpredictable in a stressful or new situation.
Designate a dog chauffeur. Have one person in charge of making sure your dog is where they need to be. Make sure it’s someone your dog is comfortable with. You may want to consider a few trial runs so your dog is at ease with their “driver”.
If possible, take your dog to the venue ahead of time to let them sniff around. Your dog will be more comfortable if the venue is at least a little familiar.
Have a plan for after the ceremony. You won’t be able to focus on your dog during the reception, and your wedding party shouldn’t be on dog-sitting duty. Have a sitter lined up who may be willing to pick your dog up from the venue. If you can’t find one, have your dog chauffeur get your dog to the sitter.
Other Ways To Include Your Dog
For some dogs, being part of the ceremony is just too much. But don’t worry. There are other ways to make sure your dog is included in the wedding, without putting them under too much stress:
Include them in the wedding pictures- Many photographers will allow you to schedule time to take pictures away from the venue. This would be a great time to include your dog. It could be in your getting ready pictures, a shoot with the happy couple, or even with the bridesmaids and groomsmen.
Bring your dog to your engagement shoot- Engagement photos are often included in wedding photography packages. If not, book an engagement shoot and bring your dog along. Ask your photographer to include some candid, fun shots that really showcase your relationship with your dog.
Let them “write a speech”- Have a creative friend who is close to your dog give a speech or toast that is “from” your dog. You can also write it and have someone else give it, but the element of surprise can be fun. Just make sure it’s a friend who won’t totally embarrass you.
Your dog is part of your family. There’s no doubt about it. Save these tips so that you can include them in your very special day.