This is a guest post by Andrea Horne
Photos by Green Valley Photography
To many us, our dogs are so much more than just a pet; they are part of the family. So to exclude such an important family member on your wedding day would feel like someone is missing. Here are some tips to effectively include your dog at your wedding, avoid mishaps, and have a unique celebration that guests will talk about.
If you want to include your dog during the ceremony, it's best to start with a clear and well organized plan.
1. Contact the wedding venue.
Contact your wedding venue to get permission and review their pet policy. See if they have any specific requirements, fees, fines, or an additional contract that you would need to sign.
2. Inform your guests and get crucial info.
Let your wedding party know that you are considering your dog as part of the ceremony and see if they have any objections, severe allergies, or other concerns. Ask if one of them would like to volunteer to escort your pet down the aisle. This could be a bridesmaid, groomsman, or flower girl/ring bearer depending on their age and the size of the dog.
3. Contact your photographer.
Give your photographer a heads up so she/he can make a note to specifically look for your pet at the wedding. She or he may even have a few photo and pose ideas to share with you.
4. Contact a dog care professional.
Once your venue, wedding party, and photographer are all on board with this idea, contact your dog care professional to see if they are available for your wedding date. It is in the best interest of everyone at your wedding to have a hired person who is being paid to watch your dog. Knowing that you have someone looking after your pet will minimize risk and stress on your big day.
Find out their rates and if there would be an additional travel fee to and from your venue. Also, ask for a copy of their proof of insurance and state license number in the case of any liability issues.
5. Pamper your pooch.
Since your dog will be making quite the entrance, be sure to have them looking their best. Schedule an appointment with your groomer in advance of your wedding date for a bath, nail trim, and fur trim, if applicable. The dog can be dressed in formal dog clothing, like the tuxedos at www.petimpulse.com, or contact your florist to make a pet-safe floral wreath to go around their neck. Try putting these items on your dog before the wedding to see how long they will comfortably wear them for.
6. Practice, practice, practice!
After the dog caretaker is in place, it is a good idea to bring the dog to the wedding rehearsal so they can get acquainted with the venue. At that time, you can decide if they can walk up the aisle by themselves or if they will need to be on a leash guided by someone from the wedding party. If the dog sees you at the end of the aisle, it should naturally head towards you. Practice at the rehearsal with their favorite treat in your hand so they will be even more inclined to come to you. Your dog caretaker should be standing behind the last row of guests so if the dog turns and heads away from the ceremony, the care person is right there to bring them back.
Have your dog caretaker arrive with the dog about 45 minutes before the ceremony. Have them bring the dog up to the ceremony space and practice walking up the aisle one last time. You can also get in a quick photo of the pet with the bride or groom.
When the ceremony starts, everyone should be in place, (including the dog), and know their role. If need be, the dog can be led off to the side while the vows are being exchanged.
After the ceremony, the dog should be in the first group for the family formal pictures. Decide beforehand who you want the dog to pose with and make a list for the photographer. Doing so will keep things organized and efficient.
Once the ceremony is over and the photos taken, have the caretaker board your pet for the night. This will avoid the dog being in the way at the reception when guests celebrate, drink, and party on the dance floor.
A dog is truly man’s best friend. A friend that can create a memorable wedding for all. Follow this plan and have an amazing day with your furry family member.