A wedding is so much more than a celebration of a new marriage—it's a celebration of all the people that helped bring the newlyweds to that point. Sometimes, those "people" are actually your dogs, so it's natural that you'd want to include them on your big day. Since you've already fallen in love with those puppy ring-bearer photos, you're likely set on replicating the idea (or honoring your dog in another sweet way). But, there's a lot more to it than cute puppy photos and dog treats. If you're thinking about including your furry friend in your wedding, here are five things to consider long before the big day arrives.
Gauge her personality.
Make sure your pet has the right temperament and personality to attend or play a role in a wedding—calm, obedient, and friendly. Consider how she does at family parties. Does she bark every time a guest meanders up your walk? Jump when new people enter your home? Have an accident if she gets too overwhelmed? If the answer to any of these is "yes," you'll likely want to leave her at home. And there's nothing wrong with that! If your dog isn't wedding-ready, you can use her likeness on signage or stationery, or name a signature cocktail after her so she'll be there "in spirit."
Make sure she won't be turned away on the big day.
If you've established that your pup is a natural in a big crowd, and it's important to you that she's there on your wedding day, make sure to ask venues and officiants if they're pet-friendly before putting down those deposits. This isn't a question to leave until the last minute—the worst thing would be discovering that your pup can't attend after you've pulled up to the ceremony site (and didn't hire a dog sitter!). Beyond your venue, tell your vendors, bridal party, and guests about your four-legged friend, too, so that everyone is in the loop.
Give your pup time to "rehearse."
New places can be intimidating, especially for dogs. Your pup may be calm and collected in a space she knows, but not so much in unfamilar woods, a lofty barn, or a dimly-lit banquet hall. Luckily, there's a way to help her acclimate: Bring her to the venue before the wedding day, so she has time to sniff things out before the crowds pour in. If she's taking part in the ceremony, have her participate in the rehearsal. Practice makes perfect, right?
Make sure she likes her outfit.
If you're planning to have her "dress up," keep it simple, and try it out before hand. We don't have to tell you what will happen if she thinks that adorable dog-sized flower girl ensemble is itchy. Some pup-friendly options include collars decorated with flowers or ribbons and embellished leashes. If your dog is a good sport about costumes, feel free to choose shirts, dresses, or hats.
Hire or choose an on-site dog sitter to keep her safe.
Even if you're the most intense helicopter dog-mom out there, you'll likely lose track of your pup on your wedding day. You'll have other responsibilities to attend to—there will be guests to greet, games to play, food to eat, and cake to cut. Keep your dog safe (and give yourself some peace of mind) while you're occupied with the festivities by asking a guest to stand in as a dog-sitter, or consider hiring a professional to feed, walk, and care for her. Whatever you decide, just don't forget the treats!