So, you’ve met the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. And now you’re planning your perfect wedding. You want all your friends and family with you on your special day, and even though your wedding planner may have cringed at the idea, and your mom may have told you “Don’t even think about it,” you are determined that your beloved dog is going to be part of the ceremony.
If you think I’m going to add my voice to those of the people trying to talk you out of it, then you have definitely come to the wrong place! People have called me crazy for this (although the last time I checked my mental health was pretty good, thank you for asking!), but I can’t imagine planning a wedding without including every member of the family, and that includes your dog.
That said, though, there are a few things you will have to consider, so here are my top 10 tips for including your dog in your wedding.
1. Consider Your Dog’s Personality
If your dog is nervous, he or she may not be able to handle the stress of being part of the wedding party. Face it, some dogs don’t do well in unfamiliar environments, and some dogs do not react well to strangers. If your dog is a bit jumpy, you might want to reconsider asking him to act as your ring-bearer. Instead, you could go with having a family member hold him on lead so that he can greet you as you come down the aisle after the ceremony, and be part of the photo op. He’s still participating, just not taking a fully active role that could stress him.
2. Think About the Reception
Some dogs do very well during the ceremony, even if they do have a highly participatory role, but may find the reception a bit overwhelming. After all, there is going to be loud music and a lot of people, not all of whom are likely to be completely sober. There is also the danger of spilled alcoholic drinks that your dog could ingest, and that could lead to a trip to the vet at best on what is supposed to be the happiest day of your life. It’s best not to bring your dog to the reception.
3. Make Sure Your Dog is Welcome
If I had my way, every wedding venue would welcome dogs. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with me. So make sure early on that your wedding venue is dog-friendly. You may need to choose another place to get married.
4. Clue in Your Support Team
Don’t surprise your bridesmaids and groomsmen with the news that your dog will be participating in the ceremony. People who have allergies should be given an opportunity to bow out.
5. Prepare Early
Think about the role that your dog is going to play. Will he be the ring bearer, the Dog of Honor, or the Best Dog (well of course he’s always the best dog, right?)? You’ll want to have rehearsals with just your dog and a number of stand-ins before the real rehearsal so that your dog knows what to expect.
6. Choose a Handler
This could be another member of the wedding party, or a trusted guest. Their role will be to make sure that if anything goes wrong, it doesn’t disrupt the ceremony. Realistically, you’ve heard about grooms fainting, brides tripping over their trains, mothers of the bride breaking down in hysterics – very few weddings go off without a hitch, and when you add a dog to the mix, you never know what could happen. Poo? Throw-up? An attempt to eat the flowers? You want to plan for these possibilities, so choose someone you and your dog both trust to stand guard.
7. Think About Grooming
Of course you want your best friend to look as good as you do on your special day, so schedule a trip to the groomer. If you’re one of those people who likes to have little bows put in your dog’s ears during the course of the grooming, make sure that they match the rest of your wedding color scheme.
If you want to groom your dog at home, consider giving him a good bath with 4-Legger Certified Organic Dog Shampoo. It is very gentle, and contains aloe and lemon grass to preserve the coat’s natural oils. The regular price at Amazon.com is $24.85, but right now it is on special for just $15.98 – a 36% saving!
8. Stay Calm
Planning a wedding is stressful, and as you get closer to the big day, your stress level is almost certain to be ratcheted up. This is the time when you want to pay even more attention to your best buddy. He will pick up on your stress. So if you want your ceremony to go smoothly, make sure that your fur friend knows all the time how very much you love him. Sure, you’re distracted, but you’re not leaving him. You would never leave him. So let him know.
9. Be Happy
When you’re ready to walk down that aisle, show the world your joy. Smile and wave, and take time during that walk to bend down and pet your dog. You are marrying the love of your life, and bringing your best friend into that circle of love. It doesn’t get any better.
10. Don’t Sweat It
If something goes wrong, laugh it off. You brought your dog to your wedding knowing that he’s a dog, so if he barfs on your shoes, grabs your train, or howls all through the ceremony, take it in stride. Think of it this way – it’s a story to tell your kids, grandkids, or even grand-dogs! It’s all good.
You know I’m going to tell you to take your dog along, don’t you? Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let me offer you my sincere congratulations. May you, your significant other, and the dog you both cherish enjoy many splendid years together.