How to Include Your Dog on Your Wedding Day
Some advice to include your best friend for your wedding day with the least stress.
Dogs are the best. That’s really the end of it. And if you’re anything like me, you probably can’t image getting married without your dog by your side. Dogs are sometimes like kids and bringing them can change the dynamic of your day or modify the activities you can do. Let’s take an honest look at bringing a dog for your elopement.
It breaks my soul to say this, but it may be best to not bring your dog. Like people, dogs have specific personalities. Some of those personalities will perfectly enhance your experience. Others can add chaos to what would’ve been a peaceful day. I say this as someone who has the dog that would enhance my experience AND another dog that would totally bring the chaos.
There’s lots of things to consider when making the initial decision. Start by being honest about your dog. Are they comfortable in the kind of venue you’ve selected (forest, ocean, building, downtown, whatever it is)? How do they usually behave factoring in how many people will be present, meeting new people, etc.? What’s the weather going to be like and will your dog be comfortable in those conditions? Can your dog physically handle what you want to do for your elopement? Is your perfect location dog friendly?
In addition to asking yourself those questions, here’s some ideas to incorporate your pup in ways that will make them the most comfortable.
1. Let your dog adjust to the kinds of surroundings they’ll be exposed to.
This could be some walks in the kind of environment you’re getting married in or bringing them to just hang out with the people at your elopement earlier in the day before the festivities begin. Dogs get nervous and behave differently in new, stressful situations just like we do. Letting them adjust without so many other factors coming into play will help the day go more smoothly.
2. Bring someone designated to watch your dog.
There’s a lot going on on your wedding day. If you’re wearing a white dress around a dog, that’s basically a disaster waiting to happen (or a wonderful dog print accessory). Having someone your dog knows and trusts to take care of it during the day can be a game changer. It allows you to have those special moments without making sure your dog is okay over and over.
3. Bring some toys or treats your dog enjoys.
My dogs turn into different animals when I give them a good dog bone. They shut up and chew on it for hours sometimes. Think about what does the same for your pup. Bring that along and let them avoid getting bored (and finding trouble). Also bring treats for photo bribery and maybe their favorite toy. My dogs love squeaker toys but aren’t allowed to have them because they destroy them and swallow pieces of toy. So when I want a good photo of them, I break out a squeaker from a dog toy and I’ve got their undivided attention for a solid 5 minutes.
4. Schedule a time for your dog to be present.
Maybe you looked at my earlier list of questions and realized it’s going to be tough to include your dog. You don’t want your dog uncomfortable or causing stress on your day but you also really want them there. You can schedule a time slot where they’re with you during an experience they’ll be comfortable with. You can capture some moments together, enjoy having them with you, and then send them back with a trusted friend or family member. This may look like one hour or a few hours until you want to relax for the evening.
5. Wear them out before your wedding.
A tired dog is a well behaved dog. As the dog parent of a hunting dog, I understand the value of a worn out dog. If you dog has been napping all day up until your ceremony, the odds of your dog sitting next to you nicely isn’t great. For my corgi, a walk around the block would be enough to calm her down. For my beagle, she’d need a solid hour sprinting in a dog park. Since you know your dog, schedule a slot to work out some energy. Maybe you have a 5 mile hike to your ceremony and that will take care of it. Maybe you need to ask a member of the wedding party to just play fetch with them for a bit.
I hope this advice allows you to bring your pup along even if you didn't think you'd be able to originally. Make sure you include everyone that matters on your day...friends with tails included.