I’ve been officiating weddings here in Maine since 2011 so you can bet I’ve seen lots of weddings that included dogs. There’s nothing cuter than a dog all dressed up for the special occasion with a floral crown around its neck or a fancy bow tie attached to its collar. We’re lucky that many of the barn wedding venues in Maine allow leashed and well-behaved dogs on site, which means you can include your pet in your wedding. In this post, I offer you some things to consider before asking your furry friend to be in your ceremony and some tips for making their participation the most successful it can possibly be.
Should we include our dog in our wedding?
You’re so smart to be asking this question and thinking seriously about this. Here are some things to consider about including your dog in your wedding.
Does the wedding venue allow dogs?
Does the wedding venue require your dog to be leashed at all times?
Who will be responsible for the dog the entire weekend? (Hint: it cannot be your or your beloved)
Does your pouch suffer from separation anxiety?
Can your dog remain calm around large groups of people?
Do loud noises like raucous clapping agitate your dog?
The most important thing to know is that you will not be able to be in charge of your dog all weekend. You have so many important things to do that often can’t include a dog. You may think you can have your dog with you at all times, but that’s just unrealistic consider all the things in which you’ll be involved – schmoozing at dinner, sunset photos with your sweetheart, dancing the night away.
To successfully include a dog in your wedding, you must have a dog-wrangler identified who will be responsible for taking care of the dog all wedding weekend.
8 Ways to include our dog in our wedding
#1 Ring Bearer
If you’re going to have your dog be your ring bearer, please, please, please consider having him/her carry fake rings or just the ring pillow without any rings. I officiated a wedding in a field where the dog had the rings tied to its collar and just as the ceremony was about to begin we noticed the rings were missing. Yikes! Don’t let this happen to you!
#2 Flower Dog
Decorate your dog’s collar with beautiful florals and have them be the last being down the aisle before the bride (a spot traditionally reserved for the flower girl).
You can attach a small placard to your dog’s collar that announces “Here comes the bride!” or some other cute saying and have the dog (with its wrangler) walk down the aisle right before the bride.
#4 Best Dog
Have the dog walk down the aisle and stand with you during your wedding ceremony.
Sometimes young children who participate in a wedding ceremony get very nervous walking down the aisle alone. If they’re familiar with your dog, consider having it be the child’s attendant and escort the little one down the aisle.
#6 Vow Holder
How cute would it be if your vows were attached to your dog’s collar and when it was time to read your vows during the ceremony you called your pouch up to the arbor to retrieve them?
#7 Gift Ceremony
You know how if one member of the wedding couple has a child, the other person can offer them a gift during the ceremony? Usually this gift is a symbolic gesture, just like giving a ring to your spouse, that comes with promises to the child, too? Well, you could totally do this with your dog! Call your buddy up during the ceremony and take a few minutes to make some promises to your pouch. Cute, right?
Have you puppy and its wrangler (remember, it can’t be you) greet guests as they arrive for your wedding ceremony. What could be better than a wagging tail and puppy licks to greet your guests. If your dog likes to jump on people as a way of greeting, then this is not the best role for your dog, obvs.
What should we do to include a dog in our wedding?
Have a Dog Wrangler
I’ve said it already, but I’ll say it again: identify a dog wrangler, someone who knows and loves your dog and is able to feed and water them and take them for a pre-ceremony walk and clean up after their mess. If you don’t have this person in your life, then consider hiring a professional dog walker for your wedding day.
Walk the Dog
No matter how chill your dog is, it’s a good idea to have it taken for a pre-ceremony walk. A tired dog is a calm dog, amiright?
I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but you’ll be so wrapped up in all the things you have to do on wedding day that it’s easy to forget that the dog needs food and water.
Have Dog Treats
If necessary, have someone in the wedding party have treats to coax your pup down the aisle. Also, whoever your dog is sitting with during the ceremony should have lots of treats handy.
Make sure whoever your dog is sitting with during your wedding ceremony is sitting in the last seat in the row so they can easily get up and leave the ceremony without causing a fuss. Plan an escape route for the dog wrangler so they can take your dog out with minimal distraction.
Comfy Dog Bed
I had a couple who even had their dog’s bed positioned at the end of a row during the wedding ceremony. This allowed their pup to be part of the processional, but then he could chillax during the proceedings. It worked great and made for an adorable photo!
Have a Plan
Even the most well-behaved dog will be over stimulated on wedding day. It’s important to have a plan for after the ceremony. Where will the dog go during the reception? When should he or she be brought back to the house/hotel? Who will bring him or her there?
You may want to announce that your dog will be part of your wedding on your wedding website so that your guests with allergies can plan accordingly.
So, there you go! If you’re able to do all of these things, you and your dog will have a wonderful wedding day!