Anyone who has a dog knows how wonderful dogs are! For many couples having your dog – or even dogs in your wedding is just a natural. And why not? Dogs are one of the best examples of unconditional love and may be even a reminder of how we can love without expectation or demand.
It’s only natural that some couples would want to include their dog in their wedding. Whether as the ring bearer, a flower dog or part of the bridal party, there are many ways to include your dog in your ceremony.
As with anything else, it just takes planning. Our friends at WikiHow.com recommend considering the following:
Make sure everyone on your guest list is comfortable having your dog around. You should consult with your spouse-to-be, and you may need to ask your guests directly. If your future father-in-law has a pet allergy or your flower girl is terrified of dogs, leave your pet out.
Check to make certain that your dog will be welcome at the sites your wedding takes place at. Make sure everyone you’ve hired for the wedding knows what you are planning. Of course that goes for your officiant. Needless-to-say, I’d be delighted!
Decide what you want your dog to do. Keep in mind your dog’s temperament and abilities. Be realistic. If your puppy is just starting to learn how to sit, it’s not fair to expect her to trot up to the altar with a pillow bearing the rings.
Practice, practice, practice. Like any trick or new behavior, your wedding routine needs to be reinforced for your dog. Take it slowly and keep it positive. If your dog is going to be wearing a new item, like a bow tie collar or a ring pillow, put it on several times before the actual event. Offer treats and praise, even for just wearing the new item. If you can, practice a few times in the actual location so your dog will be familiar with it. If the location isn’t available, try practicing in lots of different places so your dog will feel confident in a strange place.
Designate someone to watch your dog. Even if your dog’s role in the wedding is as simple as sitting next to you, neither you nor your partner can really be expected to give the dog your full attention during the wedding. Try to choose someone your dog already knows and trusts. Make sure the person you choose is physically up to the job; don’t have your 4-year-old ring bearer trying to wrangle your full grown great dane.
Be flexible. No matter how well you plan, something may not work out as you planned it, especially with your dog involved. Be prepared for scenarios like your dog getting stage fright or having an accident; plan in advance who would handle this. Also, make sure that you’ve designated someone to take your dog outside or even back home if your dog acts up or seems uncomfortable.
Remember that, even though we love our dogs, not all of them are meant to be at weddings. Consider carefully whether your dog will be comfortable and happy at your ceremony or reception. As much as you may want your pet there, your dog may be far more content staying at home with a favorite toy. A photo of you and your spouse with your dog in a place of honor at the reception can show how much your pet means to you without causing you (or your dog) as much stress. Also, remember again that others may not enjoy your dog as much as you do.
Do you have some a great picture of a dog at your wedding? Please pass it on with your wedding story and I’ll post it to my blog.