How to Include Your Dog in Your Wedding

Our dogs are part of our families, and we involve them in family activities as often as we can. And what occasion says "family" more than a wedding? After all, you’ve invited distant cousins and other relatives. Shouldn’t your dog be part of the festivities as well? Even though your pup won’t eat as much, or put a strain on the open bar, you’ll need to do a lot of extra planning before you stroll down the aisle with your furry four-legged friend at your side.

First, make sure that whatever venues you choose for the ceremony — as well as the reception — allows dogs on the premises. Having to change any plans you’ve made at the last minute will be one hassle you’ll want to avoid on your big day.

Your dog’s temperament is also important to consider. If he or she gets too excited, overly affectionate, or nervous in crowds of people, it might be best to leave him or her at home or boarded someplace. Consider also your guests. Do any of them have allergies or fears related to dogs? Will the sight of your dog — no matter how adorable he or she obviously is — make them uncomfortable?

Maybe you see your dog as being the ring bearer, flower girl, or even part of the wedding party. That’s going to take some extra training, even before the actual rehearsal with all the necessary human parties in attendance. Perhaps a seat of honor in the front row of the ceremony would be better. (Even if your dog isn’t involved in the rituals, training beforehand is a good idea.)

Speaking of which, you will want to have a minder available, at the rehearsal, ceremony, reception, and photos, whose job it is to keep your dog occupied while you’re being shuttled around, taking pictures, cutting the cake, tossing the bouquet, dancing, and mingling. This is still your day — you won’t want to keep taking time out for walks, feeding, or playing.

Even the best-behaved dogs will be curious about all the tasty food and drinks around the reception, and your guests will certainly try to sneak food to them. Just as with any other gathering, people food is NOT healthy for dogs. Do you want to add a trip to the vet emergency room to your honeymoon itinerary?

If you envision a perfect wedding day, having your dog there might derail your visions. Then again, you might look forward to a crazy, fun-filled day and the potential for hilarious stories about wedding mishaps. There are still lots of ways to involve your dog in your wedding that won’t require extra work, planning, and hassle. Include him or her in your save-the-date photos, invitation designs, and thank-you cards. Incorporate a photo of your dog in the cake and table decorations. After all, the wedding is just one day — your marriage is forever.

  • Published:
  • Updated: 4/11/2019: 2:57:00 PM ET