Last spring, we coordinated not one, but two weddings where dogs walked down the aisle. I have to admit, when I found out that this is what each of these couples wanted, I thought it would be disaster! And I am a total dog lover.
I'm happy to say that both ceremonies went off just fine, and all three of the dogs involved not only made great ring bearers, but also made everyone in attendance smile.
So, I'm here to tell you that if you can't imagine your wedding without your four-legged friend, it can be done! But there are definitely a few very key things to consider and plan for to make things go smoothly:
1) Does your venue allow dogs?
Ok, this is the most obvious detail, of course. But every wedding venue is different and most have many rules about what you can and can't do. Even if you are planning on getting married outdoors, find out for sure that they don't have a no dogs policy.
It is likely that you will be out of the house early on your wedding day, and you'll definitely need someone to pick up your dog from the house and bring him/her to the venue for you. Depending on the temprament of your dog, you may consider having this person take him on a long walk or to the dog park to get some energy out (and then for a bath!).
Once your pup is at the venue, you'll need someone to be in charge of handling your dog before the ceremony. Ideally, this is not someone involved in the wedding party (paw prints + bridesmaid's dress is not a pretty combo!).
Then once he makes it down the aisle, will he sit still during the cermony? If the answer is no, I highly recommend you have someone designated to whisk him away at the end of the aisle and either take him home, if you plan to return to your house after the wedding, or to be boarded for the night - or the week if you are leaving directly for our honeymoon!
Clearly all of this is a lot to ask of a friend or wedding guest, so I'd recommend hiring your dog walker, dog sitter, dog trainer, or someone who works at your doggie day care for the day. It really can be anyone, but someone who is experienced with dogs, and preferably familiar with yours!
3) Getting your dog down the aisle
If you are planning on having your dog walk (run!) down the aisle by himself, then make sure you have his favorite treats for the groom to hold in his pocket. Your wedding coordinator can be sure to have these on hand to give to the groom at the last minute. Another option is to have someone walk your dog down on a leash.
This is the fun part! There are so many adorable options these days from doggie bow ties to "Here comes the bride" signs for pup to carry. But my very favorite is the flower collar pictured above. Don't these two look great? To pull this look off, you'll need to measure the circumfrence of your dog's neck and give this info to your florist ahead of time to make sure that your collars will be the right size.
Having your dog as part of your wedding is not for everyone, or every dog. But with a little extra planning he can be an adorable addition to your wedding party!