7 Tips for a Dog-Friendly Wedding

Make canine companions part of your big day by following this helpful advice.


It seems like just yesterday that you and your honey nervously strolled down the aisle of the animal shelter, telling yourselves you were “just looking.” Of course you brought home that adorable Corgi-mix with the pleading eyes, which you nurtured from a confused, lost soul to the trusting, loving dog she is today.

Now you’re getting ready to walk down another aisle, and you wouldn’t dream of leaving your beloved dog at home. That’s not so unusual; more and more weddings include family members of another species, including horses, canines, and reptiles. It just takes a little forethought and planning to pull off.

Whether you’re newly engaged or have been planning to tie the knot for a while, now is the time to figure out your dog’s special place in your wedding. Follow these seven tips for best results.

1. Engage an escort.

Of course your pup means everything to you, but on your wedding day a million other things will be vying for your attention. Ask a trusted friend or family member, well ahead of time, to oversee your dog that day. Rather not ask a guest? Employ a trusted pet sitter to join your festivities.

2. Hire dog-friendly help.

When shopping for caterers, photographers, and other members of your entourage, inform them of your pet’s role and size up the reaction. That may mean saying no to the caterer determined to set up numerous buffet stations, or the photographer who clears his throat nervously when you ask if he packs squeaky toys.

3. Keep the attire simply elegant.

Unless your dog is an old pro at wearing clothing, the wedding day outfit should remain minimal. A festive collar, bandana, or hair clip can add a festive touch without bringing on a fit of itching and chewing. If you want to try something fancier, spend several days letting your dog wear it (or something very similar) to become comfortable.

4. Remember this isn’t Hollywood.

Don’t you love those movie scenes when a dog trots down the aisle solo, delivering rings or flowers? That obedient pup has spent hours training for the moment and has a slew of professionals keeping him on course. The average “regular dog” is unlikely to calmly walk down the aisle, disinterested by the smells, faces, and noises on either side. If your dog will down the aisle, get him a fancy leash and a human escort, and be sure to take lots of trial runs.

5. Cast your dog in the appropriate role.

You know your dog, so give her a role that fits her personality. Is she a star sitter? Perhaps she can sit with the jittery groom at the altar. Does he politely greet guests? Maybe he could camp out next to the guest book. Does your dog dive under the sofa whenever you entertain? No job for this nervous Nellie; a cameo appearance and a spot in the sidelines is probably what she’ll enjoy.

6. Be sensitive to non-dog people.

Sure, it’s hard to understand non-dog people. Your pup can’t understand them either, so he’ll continue trying to win over Great Aunt Zelda, despite her obvious displeasure. You want all your guests to leave with fond memories of your big day, though, so provide your dog’s caregiver with names (and photos) of guests on the no-fly zone. Also remember guests with allergies. Logistically, do your best to situate these folks away from where your dog will hang out.

7. Remember nap time.

A wedding is a long event, loaded with stimuli. That’s a stark change from your dog’s typical day of snoozing in your quiet home. Have a plan in place for transporting him back to your home or dog-safe hotel room after a set amount of time. Also remind your caregiver to watch for signs of anxiety — barking, drooling, pacing, and whining — which may indicate he’s had enough.

Your wedding is a celebration of everything you two love and your new life together, and with a little planning your dog can be there to join you!

Photo: Wedding dogs by Shutterstock

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