You’re about to share your life with another person “as long as you both shall live” and yet, as a dog lover, you’re already in a lifelong relationship! It’s only natural you’d want your dearly beloved dog to be a witness – or participant – in your big wedding day.
Here are 7 tips to prepare for having your dog in your wedding:
1. Have Realistic Expectations of Your Dog’s Behavior
A wedding day often revolves around fulfilling the bride and grooms’ desires… but as much as you want your furry friend at the wedding, will your dog truly be a happy participant? If your dog has socialization issues or crowd anxiety, or honestly won’t be able to live up to your fantasy vision of the day, you’re setting your canine companion – and yourself – up for failure and disappointment. Have realistic expectations for your dog, and remember: there are ways to involve your dog around the event.
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2. Include Your Dog in Your Photos
Whether they’re in the ceremony or not, your dog can be a wonderful part of your wedding with some creativity and a canine-familiar photographer. From your wedding invitations to pre- and post-ceremony photography, your dog can feature in fun ways that make a life-long impression. Remember to inquire about your photographer’s experience with animals and make sure it’s a good fit.
3. Ensure Guests Are Comfortable Around Dogs
Imagine the perfect wedding marred by unexpected sneezing from the second or third row, an embarrassed guest standing mid-row and tripping over feet awkwardly trying to exit. If you’re committed to your dog as a wedding guest or participant, that’s great… just make sure your human friends and family are aware well ahead of time and can plan around allergies accordingly. Some people are just plain scared of dogs. Make sure you dog’s wedding handler is aware of any special needs among guests.
4. Is Your Venue Pet Friendly?
This one is short and sweet: don’t assume the wedding site you’re using allows pets and end up your dog barred from the big day. Neglecting this could cause you heartache and hassle on the wedding day, as well as angry or tearful arguments with the location staff. If you’ve determined the wedding will be dog-friendly, ensure your facility and the rental agreement concurs.
5. Hire a Wedding Day Sitter/Handler For Your Dog’s Comfort
The bride has a maid of honor, the groom has a best man. Your dog needs the same kind of backup if they’re going to be part of the big day! Don’t assume you, or your almost-spouse, parents, or someone with another job can juggle dog duty. The wedding plan needs to include a friend, family member, or sitter for the day who will keep your dog calm, engaged, exercised, and properly focused for the big moment.
6. Play to Your Dog’s Strengths
What does your dog do best? If “sit” is a reliable command, it may be good to have your four-legged friend positioned and still during the ceremony in a prime location. If you have a restless pup, but they’ll faithfully run down the aisle to deliver the rings (and then get scooped up by your designated sitter) make sure the plan incorporates your pet’s primary strengths. If they’re already comfortable in sweaters and assorted doggie-wear you can have them show off a little tux or dress. Plan early enough and you can acclimate them, just remember that your dog will need more rehearsals than human participants.
7. Embrace the Chaos
This applies to more than just your pooch’s part in the proceedings, but the dog deserves the most grace when it comes to surprises! If the momentous day arrives and there’s a doggie rebellion, take it in stride. Remember: no wedding goes completely according to form, and things that might frustrate on the big day often inform the beloved stories told for years to come. “Expect the unexpected” is an axiom dog lovers embrace… and it also applies to your wedding, and your marriage.