Someone popped the question, and the planning has begun! As you start to create the list of who will be in your wedding party, it's possible that one (or a few) of your best friends might have paws. For anyone who's looking to involve pets in your wedding, here are a few things to keep in mind to help your dog and your guests have a positive experience.
Creating an Amazing Announcement
It's been said that anyone who thinks a diamond is a girl's best friend has never had a dog. So when it comes to announcing your engagement and sharing that beautiful diamond ring, including your pup in the pictures seems like a no-brainer for a dog parent. Depending on your dog's age and temperament, engagement photos and engagement parties are a good place to "test the waters" on whether he could handle being part of the actual wedding festivities. If your dog gets anxious or misbehaves during gatherings, it may be best to limit his wedding involvement to just the ceremony or a small part of the reception.
Picking the Perfect Role
One of the most common ways to involve pets in weddings is to have your dog bring the rings down the aisle. Some people train their four-legged friend to carry a pillow with the rings, while others connect the rings to a sturdy collar. For smaller dogs, you may want to consider having a ring bearer or flower girl push a small carriage down the aisle with your special guest inside.
For a more unique role, consider having your dog greet guests with a "shake" or escort people to their seats. One thing to be sure of is that your indoor or outdoor wedding venue will allow your fur baby to attend. If you dress your dog up, keep his tags, collar and identifying information on him just in case he wanders off.
Capturing Perfect Pet Moments
Capturing every moment of your special day on film is an important part of any wedding. Taking great photos of a dog requires patience and the right camera settings, so notify your photographer that your pup will be one of your guests. Practicing photo settings prior to the wedding day and hiring a photographer with pet experience is a good idea. Dogs often move quickly, so having your camera set to a higher speed may be necessary.
It's also a good idea to have someone designated to be your dog's caretaker throughout the day. If your pooch gets tired of photos or wants to sniff around for a while, that friend or relative can tend to your dog's needs while the beautiful couple takes photos and greets other guests. (It goes without saying that your designated dog walker will need some poop bags and treats stashed in a purse or tuxedo pocket.)
Keeping the Fur from Flying
There are lots of things to be nervous about on your wedding day, but your dog's safety shouldn't be one of them. Although you may want your fur baby to be part of every second of your special day, a little extra attention and boundaries may be needed to keep your pup safe at the reception. Receptions are usually loaded with a variety of foods, and some of those foods could be dangerous if consumed by your four-legged friend. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals lists chocolate, alcohol and grapes among some of the most dangerous people foods for dogs.
Your pup's designated caretaker should watch him during the reception. This trusted person can make sure your dog gets his own food and water and isn't given people food by guests, including any young children in attendance. Some couples even provide a special dog-safe cake or decorative dog treats at the reception to be sure their best friend gets his fill of goodies.
The average wedding reception is full of bright camera flashes, loud music and many other elements that might startle your dog. Be sure that your designated dog sitter is prepared to take your dog for a walk or to a planned safe place if the reception activities become too overwhelming. This caretaker may also be a great person to watch your four-legged friend while you are away on your honeymoon. The more consistency you can offer to your pet throughout the wedding day and beyond, the better.
From start to finish, a dog friendly wedding may take a little extra planning, but it's worth every second!
Chrissie Klinger is a pet parent that enjoys sharing her home with her furkids, two of her own children and her husband. Chrissie enjoys spending time with all her family members when she is not teaching, writing or blogging. She strives to write articles that help pet owners live a more active and meaningful life with their pets.