I’ve been noticing a new(ish) trend of people including their puppies in their weddings!!! I am all for that and have a few insights after coordinating a shoot specifically for dogs a few years back. I wanted to show how it can work, what can go wrong, and what advice overall I have for this subject. Hope it helps! UPDATE 8/6/19: I wanted to add more photos from a more recent wedding that had dogs in them! I’ll be adding captions to each that I’ve added to clarify which is which :).
Challenges to be Aware of
There are a few challenges that immediately come to mind:
Many venues don’t/won’t allow for dogs-always check with your venue first.
Some guests may be afraid/stressed out around dogs (this also includes your vendors!!!)
Dogs are easily distracted
There is food at weddings (duh 😉
Some dogs just don’t do well with lots of people/activity
More recent example I have with my current editing style!
Always keep in mind that your furry friend gets stressed out just like we do! Be sure to really be honest with yourself and how your dog reacts to certain situations. If you’re uncertain how your dog would react to certain aspects of your wedding (people, food, etc.), test it out! When I was uncertain how my little beagle (who’s my ESA) would react to being on a plane + loud plane noises, I started to take him to the dog park on my husband’s military base while he was in the Air Force. We always had super loud fighter jets go by. Once I could confirm he wasn’t going to freak out because of the noise, I started to take him out in public more to cover my bases of him being nervous around lots of people. So if you’re uncertain about how your dog would do around people and food, you can always check out bringfido.com for local restaurants that allow dogs near you and take them there with you! If they lose it, then you have your answer-maybe leave them with someone you trust instead for the day.
Overall-BE REALISTIC. I know if you’re considering putting your dog in your wedding that it probably would mean the world to you if they were there. With that being said, you’d also be so sad if your puppy was stressed and upset just because you wanted your dog there.
What can be Done to Prepare if it’s Super Important to Have Your Dog in Your Wedding?
Training. Training. Training. Seriously. Spend the money on a local dog trainer/program. It’s so worth it. Dog training is less teaching your dog and more you learning how to communicate with your dog in a way that will make sense to them and help them listen. Dogs love having a job to do. Dogs who don’t have any training tend to be more anxious and wired because they never feel like they have a job or a purpose. Even going on Youtube and learning a few techniques would be super useful. I highly suggest against treat training as dogs tend to get stubborn and won’t listen without a treat otherwise but if you have to treat train, it’s at least better than no training at all!
Practice with your dog & give them a job! Dogs love having a job! There’s lots of rolls your dog could play during your wedding like:
Recent example with updated editing style
-”Dog of Honor”, or having your dog sit besides you in the line during your ceremony
-”Flower Dog”, having your dog walk down the aisle with the flower girl/boy-just make sure the petals are non-toxic to dogs so that way if your pup decides to try some out they won’t get sick!
-”Ring Bearer”, there’s lots of fun, customizable dog collars that accommodate this! Just have your pup walk down the aisle with someone you trust and have them deliver your rings!
-”Honored Guest”, if your dog is easily distracted or stressed out with any of the jobs listed above, you can always have them sit up front with someone you trust as the guest of honor!
Recent example with updated editing style
Once you’ve decided, practice! Practice going down an “aisle” with your pup, get them comfortable with whatever attire you plan to put on them, and make sure to practice a lot! You’ll want your pup on their best possible behavior the day of your wedding so the more practice, the better.
Get them familiar with the venue. If your dog feels like your venue is familiar, things will go a lot smoother! Try to at least get in a rehearsal dinner with your pup at the venue/a few visits in if at all possible.
Plenty of exercise the day of. Dogs are so much better behaved when they don’t have a ton of pent up energy. The more energy you’re able to help them burn off, the better.
Have a bag with all the essentials for your dog. So things like, waste bags, treats, water bottles, toys, and anything else you think would be helpful. I personally love Richard’s Organic Pet Calm to help with any anxiety of stress my dog is having. It has valerian root, chamomile, and so many other amazing ingredients that help your pup feel more at ease!
Assign someone to take care of your pup during the day/Hire someone! You read that right. There are totally services out there specifically for taking care of your dog at your wedding. Obviously this is a bit different everywhere, some places won’t have a service like this available and that’s okay! So long as you’re able to have someone there to take care of your pup while you’re enjoying your day, that’s all that matters. Remember, you’re going to be busy with everything that comes with a wedding! You’re not going to always be able to correct your pup if they decide they’d like a tasty snack from the dinner table.
Have a place where puppy can rest. Like I said before, dogs get stressed out just like we do! They also need breaks from the noise and busyness of a wedding. Having a designated spot where your pup can take a proper rest is essential to having them in your wedding.
what if my dog would be too stressful for my wedding + I have to leave them behind for the day?
More recent example with updated editing style
THAT’S OKAY!!! It’s life and I’m so happy you’re doing right by your pup. There’s lots of fun ways you can still include your pup on your special day!
Having photos of your pup posted up as decorations
Have a fun cake topper that represents your dog
Send home goodie bags with your dog’s favorite treats as a “thank you” to guests
Use dog themed decor like place cards, photo holders, confetti, etc.
Have your “Thank You” cards be signed along with your pup/Have your invites include photos of all three of you
Wear something that would represent your pup (jewelry, cufflinks, etc.)
having your dog in your wedding will be an experience.
If you decide to have your dog be apart of your special day know that your dog might misbehave or make a scene you don’t expect. If something goes awry because your dog jumped on your wedding attire with dirty paws or they stole someone’s dinner-remember this only happens one time and it will be a memory you’ll likely laugh at even a week after its happened. So relax and know that having your dog there on your special day is something truly significant as not everyone gets to include their furry friend. Love every minute and make sure your photographer knows how important fido is to you so they capture lots of fun memories at your wedding!
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