• Raina

Puppy Love

As you imagine your ideal wedding day, you are probably picturing those who are closest to you who will be by your side, and in attendance, surrounding you with love. For many of our couples, this includes your fur babies as well. There are lots of ways to involve furry friends in your celebration, whether you choose to have them in a formal role, as ring bearers, flower dogs, or as a dog or honor, or simply as lovable guests. Truth be told, its becoming more and more common to customize your wedding party to include family, friends and even furry companions. I mean, is there anything more adorable than a dog in a tux?

If you're thinking of including a pet in your wedding, there are a few things to consider to keep your pup safe and happy during the wedding festivities.

First of all, have your wedding planner confirm that pets permitted.

You don’t want to show up on the day of your wedding with your four-legged ring-bearer only to be told that he must head back home. If you have already booked your venue and they do not allow furry four legged friends, consider including them in your save the dates, engagement photos or perhaps even your formal bridal portraits either before the wedding or at the reception. Another solution would be to have your pooch greet your guests at the doors venue, accompanied by a hired handler, of course.

Be sure to really give some consideration to your pet’s personality.

A pup can be a guest of honor and simply stand with the wedding party during the ceremony, or they can have a specific role. For example having them as a ring bearer or flower girl are common roles in the ceremony. However, before giving your dog a starring role, think about whether this will be an enjoyable experience for them. Will your pup feel comfortable around your guests? Are they obedient and well behaved? Just remember, there’s no guarantee that your dog will behave exactly how you want them to on your wedding day. Even the most outgoing and friendly pooch can quickly feel overwhelmed by a large crowd of guests. Our best suggestion is to make sure that your dog has enough time to develop a level of comfort around your guests. Also it would be best to consider hiring a pet sitter, who will act as their guide. If your pup is especially skittish, you should consider having someone carry them or have them ride in a cute decorated little wagon. And if your puppy is overly affectionate or easily distracted, be sure to have your doggie escort use a short leash.

Always anticipate any potential hazards. Be sure you have your wedding planner check with the ceremony and venue sites with regards to pesticides or toxic plants on the grounds or about creatures that might distract or threaten your pup.

While a perfectly primped pooch is always perfect for pictures, don’t jeopardize safety for style. If you are planning to dressing your pup in a tux make sure it fits properly well in advance and doesn’t create any unusual discomfort for your pet. For a more relaxed doggie, we recommend keeping the accessories simple and easy for the dog to wear. Opt for a bowtie, bandana, or a lovely flower attached to the collar. Also, don’t make your pretty pooch wear them for longer than is necessary. They want to be able to enjoy the reception, too!

If your florist is going to adorn your pup’s collar, be sure they use nontoxic materials and ensure that any accessories you use won’t come loose and then pose a choking hazard to your pooch.

Being respectful to your guests is also recommended. Be sure to mention your precious pooch as being in attendance on your wedding website. This will serve as a polite warning to anyone with allergies allowing them to plan accordingly. Also, have your wedding planner inform your selected vendors so that they can discuss any special measures that may need to be taken. Especially be sure you have your wedding planner notify your officiant well in advance. Some may refuse to preside over a wedding that includes dogs.

Most importantly, have your wedding planner let your photographer know so that they can prepare to capture your pup in action. Advance notice will allow your photographer to prep for those unplanned moments, like when your dog leaps up to kiss you during the vows. Your photographer can be an invaluable resource when it comes to brainstorming fun photo ideas with your precious pooch for after the ceremony, too!

We cannot possibly recommend more highly the importance of hiring a professional pet sitter.

You have enough to worry about on your wedding day. By hiring a pet sitter with whom the pooch is already acquainted, or having a friend, who loves your dog as much as you do, be responsible for the pet during the wedding it can save you many headaches and heartaches.

Have someone who is responsible for bringing your pet to the ceremony, taking him home after, or watching him during the reception so you won’t have to worry about who is feeding the dog or keeping someplace safe during the reception so guests won't feed them. Certain wedding fare, including chocolate, alcohol, and meat with bones, can be dangerous.

We suggest that you have that same person walk your dog in and out of the ceremony on a leash and sit near an exit in case your dog acts up…or worst-case scenario, has to relieve themselves. This way you can concentrate on your vows and feel confident that your furry friend is there and in good hands.

To ensure that your furry friend is as comfortable and at ease as you are on the big day, just remember that practice makes perfect. Bring your pup to the site before the wedding day, and have them accompany you, along with your selected handler, to the rehearsal to practice their part if they will be participating in your ceremony.

And finally, don’t forget the other “groom.” Take your furry friend to the groomer as close to the wedding day as possible to ensure that they will look look their best!

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