Everything You Need to Know About Having Dogs at Weddings
Last spring, I was exhibiting at a wedding fair at a gorgeous local barn venue, when a future bride walked up to me to chat about her big day. The problem was, I was rather distracted! Her fiancé was carrying a little furry brown bundle and I soon came face to face with their unbelievably cute little puppy who I later learnt was called Fudge. Here’s a little Mona-truth. If you’re going to bring your gorgeous doe-eyed puppy to a wedding fair, the chances are I’m going to spend more time making a fuss of your little fluff-ball than I am of you. Sorry! I’m mad about dogs and I absolutely adore my little dachshund pooches. So if you’re proud doggy parents like me and you want your dog at your wedding, then I’m the wedding photographer for you!
Should you bring your dog to your wedding? And why?
I feel like I should answer this with ‘Do dogs pee up lampposts?’. Because, from one dog-owner to another, the answer is always YES! And, in response to the other question… why the hell not? Dogs are our beloved furry friends. They’re our fur-babies and well-loved members of our family. Why wouldn’t you have them at your wedding? After all, if you don’t have kids (yet), your pups are like your children, right? And I’m betting you wouldn’t leave your kids at home for your big day, would you?
How to get your pup involved in your big day
I don’t know many dogs who don’t love a bit of fuss and attention. Bridal prep is the perfect place for a dog that loves all that, don’t you think? If you’re getting ready at home, there are usually a bunch of people around for bridal prep. So that’s a whole load of head patting, strokes and cuddles which any sociable dog will love. Here are a couple of handy hints for you though…
1 Do make sure you have all your puppy cuddles and fusses before you put your dress on!
2 Delegate doggy walks and the wellbeing of your pooch to someone reliable, responsible and trusted by your dog. You won’t have time to be doing all that on the morning of your wedding.
Before anything else, get in touch with your venue and make sure they allow dogs and are happy for yours to be at your wedding. I’d hate for you to make all your plans only to find out that the venue doesn’t allow guests of the four-legged kind to attend! If your venue is dog-friendly (YAY!!!) then the key thing here is preparation. You’re going to need to prepare for every eventuality. Food and lots of water to keep your fur-ball happy, lots of treats and don’t forget the eco-friendly poop bags! Sorry folks, couldn’t discuss dogs at weddings without mentioning the inevitable poop scenario, could I?
As every dog owner knows, dogs always feel more comfortable in familiar places. So, it’s well worth bringing your pooch along on a venue visit long before the big day. Let them have a good wander around the grounds, sniffing and scent-marking as they go (you know how it goes..) That way, on your wedding day, they’ll smell the familiar smells and settle in much easier than if they’re only arriving there on the wedding day, for the first time.
How involved do you want your doggy to be?
When it comes to the ceremony, you need to consider how much involvement you want your dog to have. Do you want them to just be a guest? Or do you want them to have a more active role? What you decide will depend entirely on your dog’s behaviour and temperament. If your pup is nervous, a bit anxious or difficult to control in a crowd, then it might be worth having him along as just a four-legged guest! You’ll need to entrust someone your dog knows and trusts to take care of him before, during and after the ceremony. They can sit with your dog on a lead and keep them calm while all the excitement is going on. You can get some photos of you all together before they head off again. However besotted with your dog you are, be honest about what will and won’t work for your dog.
So, how can your pup to be more involved in the day? There are tons of great roles to consider! They could be a ring bearer, bringing your ring box on their collar down the aisle (with some training and a few favourite treats!). You might want them to be ‘best dog’, standing at your Groom’s / partner’s side at the end of the aisle as you walk down. They could also be a ‘flower dog’, walking in front of you (ahhhhh you can just see that can’t you!!). Or they could even escort you down the aisle. So many choices! If these sound good, think about which role would work best with your dog’s temperament.
Consider your venue. If you’re getting married on a farm, for instance, there’ll be lots of stimulating smells which might distract your dog at a key moment. Having to chase your ring-bearing pup across fields (carrying a mighty expensive ring) as they zip after a rabbit might not be what you picture doing on your wedding day! I’d recommend doing lots of training with your doggy before the day itself and be realistic, if off-lead just won’t work then don’t do it. Or, if that won’t work, consider having a dedicated person to escort him or her in their role. Do check with your chosen escort before the day to make sure they’re happy to take on that responsibility!
Dressing your dog for the occasion
Ok, can I have a little excited shrieky moment, please? Because I do love a cute doggy outfit, it has to be said! From tutus to bowties and little ring boxes attached to pretty collars, there are so many options. Whatever outfit you decide on, do practice lots beforehand.
Have I mentioned my two little dachshunds – Rusty and Max – to you? Regular followers on my instagram account will have seen them lots! They’re adorable and I LOVE dressing them up for special occasions. But Rusty hates having any clothes on him whatsoever. I’ve tried Hallowe’en outfits, birthday outfits and even a very fetching Val Doonican-inspired Christmas jumper… which, embarrassingly, got rolled out of very quickly on a Dachshund Dawdle last Christmas! He hates them and won’t have any of them. Max, meanwhile, loves a stylish outfit and doesn’t mind at all having to wear one all afternoon. So, do be sure your little darling is going to be ok with whatever you put on them before the day itself. And, if they’re not keen don’t dress them up or don’t keep it on them any longer than is absolutely necessary!
Whatever happens, on the day you’ll be looking your absolute best, so why shouldn’t your dog? Give them a good groom in the days leading up to your wedding so your pup will be looking (and smelling!) their absolute best.
Consider Doggy Daycare
If your dog is the nervous type, or you’re anxious about having them there for the wedding, why not look at booking them into doggy daycare for the day? Loads specialise in wedding day support. They’ll bring them down to the reception to see you, be a part of the day, have some family photos taken and then get taken off for the rest of the day. This is a great option as you’ll know they’re being well looked after and you don’t need to worry. There’ll be no stress wondering how they’re coping with the crowds and noise or worrying about them getting trodden on or something! I’d recommend the Barking Mad Dog Sitting Service. They even have a section on their website for weddings!
Remember, having your dog there on your wedding day is totally doable. It’s about being organised, planning everything well in advance (Max says ‘and having plenty of treats to hand, of course! Woof!’) and knowing what your dog can and can’t handle, and what is or isn’t possible. One guarantee – however they’re involved, I’ll make sure I get some cracking photographs to remember it all by! I’m also delighted to say that Fudge’s owners booked me to photograph their wedding which is due to take place later this year (after a Covid postponement), together with another lovely couple who are also bringing their beloved pooch – and I couldn’t be more excited at the prospect! Watch this space for those wedding blogs later in the year.
Get in touch For a dog-mad and proud wedding photographer capturing your doggy-filled wedding day, look no further! Drop me a message and let’s chat about having your dog at your wedding!