wedding pets: how to include furry family on your wedding day

If you ask me, there are few things cuter than dogs in bow ties. Pets are an incredibly important part of our lives and our families. When celebrating your wedding, it’s not uncommon to want to include your four-legged family members, too!

Here are a few tips on including your beloved pooch on your big day.

1.) Have a designated leash holder. The wedding day can be stressful for even the most laid back bride, so make sure you have a specific person handling your pet. Don’t take on the responsibility yourself as you have enough to worry about today. If you don’t want guests and friends missing out on the party, consider hiring a dog trainer to hold the leash.

2.) Know your pet’s personality. Crowds and noise can sometimes make pets nervous, so while your heart may be set on including them in the wedding party, make sure your pet will be okay with it. Otherwise, half the photos might end up with you chasing the dog around! My dog Fisher is pretty shy around strangers, so we waited until back at the house to celebrate in style with him. And don’t forget, most dogs are used to napping the afternoons away while you’re at work, so all this excitement is bound to wear them out. Have your handler gently escort your pet out after you’ve done your photos and are ready to party the night away knowing your pooch is safe and sound – and fast asleep.

3.) Be considerate of your guests. Some people just simply aren’t dog people and whether you understand it or not, you should respect it. Some people also need to avoid animals due to allergies. Have a designated section where your pet will be and let guests know so that they can avoid that area (or even have a list of names for the handler to carry around and know to avoid). On that same note, make sure that wherever your wedding location may be, that they’re pet-friendly and won’t mind having a dog in the area.

4.)  Keep your pet’s attire simple. Most pets I know don’t wear much clothing, so sticking them in a tiny suit or dress might lead to scratching, pulling, and general annoyance for your dog. You don’t want them to be miserable! Stick with a simple bow tie or cute sash unless your pet is used to wearing things like that. If your heart is set on a tiny tuxedo, have your pet wear it for a few days prior to the wedding so he gets used to it and isn’t too uncomfortable.

5.) Expect the unexpected and be prepared. Even the most well-behaved pooch could get distracted walking down the aisle. With all the people, noise, and food, it’s easy to understand how Fido could forget to sit still or not jump excitedly on a human friend they know. And then there’s the old saying: “When you gotta go, you gotta go.” Make sure your handler is okay with and prepared for any accidents or surprises. We suggest that once your pet’s made it down the aisle, have the handler quietly lead them away from the ceremony until it’s time to walk back out (otherwise you open yourself up to a possible ceremony with barking, marking, or squirrel-chasing!).

The Goad-Thomas Wedding. Image by Pat Cori Photography.

The Goad-Thomas Wedding. Image by Pat Cori Photography.

Liz Longweddings, pets in weddings