Your wedding is the perfect time to publicly declare your love for one another…and your dog! Who says you can’t include your furriest friend (or friends!) in your wedding?
But remember…there’s a right way and a wrong way to include your dog in your wedding.
Here’s a checklist for making sure the happiest day of your life is, in fact, the happiest day of your life.
☐ Decide whether your dog is wedding-ready. Is she skittish? Does she like people? Will she fart during the ceremony? Some dogs just aren’t meant for fancy parties, and that’s okay! There are myriad ways to include your dog around the wedding, such as in your wedding photos.
☐ Talk to your venue. Get it – in writing! – that your venue allows dogs. Talk to them about specifics such as breed restrictions, where dogs are and aren’t allowed, and where your dog can relieve herself. Touch base again the week before and the day before the wedding.
☐ Check with your guests. Is there anyone attending the wedding who might not love dogs? What about someone with allergies? It’s most important to consider your human guests’ feelings. Know when to choose your dog and when to keep people comfortable.
☐ Map out your dog’s role. Figure out what you want your dog to do on wedding day. Is she a ring bearer or just a cute aisle walker? Communicate those wishes to everyone in the bridal party and of course, your wedding coordinator.
☐ Order your dog’s stuff. Order any doggy gear you’ll need as early as possible in case you need to swap it out! Think about things like collars, leashes, dog-held ring pillows, or even a full tux/dress situation (if your dog is incredibly chill.)
☐ Consider your flowers. Don’t forget to consider your decor when including your dog in the wedding! A lot of flowers like tulips, oleander, and sago palms are toxic to dogs, so avoid having these in your decor so you won’t have to worry about accidental poisoning.
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☐ Practice with your dog. Do many, many trial runs to make sure your dog is ready! Pump in the music that will be playing, invite some friends to amp up the distractions, and even see if your venue will let you practice on-site. The less “new” and exciting the experience for your dog, the better she’ll do.
☐ Designate a dog watcher. This is the step everyone forgets! It’s critical to designate someone, wedding party or not, to hang on to your dog’s leash during the actual ceremony. You don’t want to be chasing your dog around in your formal attire! This person (or a second person) should also be willing to handle your dog the entire day leading up to the wedding itself.
☐ Make plans for your dog post-ceremony. Another oft-forgotten step…think about what you’re going to do with your dog after the ceremony is over. Do you really want to be worried about her at the reception? A quiet hotel room or, better yet, a boarding facility (plus a designated chauffeur!), is ideal.
☐ Get a check-up from the vet. It’s important for your dog’s sake (and your guests’!) that she’s healthy the day-of. Make sure she’s up-to-date on all her shots and that she’s not suffering from any kind of allergies that might make her experience less enjoyable.
☐ Check the weather. You’re probably already obsessively checking the weather if you’re having an outdoor ceremony, but what if you’re having an indoor ceremony? If it’s raining outside, your dog’s going to have wet paws…you’ll need to bring something to clean them with and figure out where she’s going to go to the bathroom!
☐ Pack a doggy go-bag. Include everything your dog might need the day-of including plenty of poop bags, some baby wipes, any clothing or accessories your dog will wear, toys, bedding, and plenty of treats. And don’t forget to microchip your dog and dress her in a collar with ID! You’ll be in an unfamiliar location so it’s important to ensure your dog will be identified if lost.
☐ Wash your dog! Be sure to have a groomer or a loved one wash your dog the day before the wedding! The last thing you want is a stinky, oily dog stealing your thunder on your big day.