Updated: Sep 7, 2019
If you know me, you know I love dogs... truly, all animals. I also work with many clients who want to include their dog(s) on wedding day or in their photo session.
Including your dog in your photo session is pretty easy work for me, but that has come with some learning. Now... including your dog in your wedding - that can take a bit more work and consideration.
In honor of National Dog Day... or is it International Dog day...Here are some tips and tricks to if you want to have the best wedding dog/best dog/dog of honor. See my next post about dog photo sessions success.
Best Dog/Dog of Honor - tips and things to considerations
1. Be an advocate for your dog!
This sounds obvious. Of course I advocate for my dog! I rescued them, feed them, bathe, walk, groom, pick up poop, play and cuddle my dog.
What I mean by this is really take some time to think about how your dog is going to do in the setting of YOUR wedding.
Not every dog will feel the most comfortable, confident and calm walking down an aisle of 300 of your nearest and dearest wedding guests.
Not every dog will hang out next to you while you and your fiance exchange vows.
-Just have your dog join you for your vow exchange, ring exchange, or a special unity ceremony, incorporating your pup. How cute would it be to put a new collar or give something special to you dog too on wedding day?
-Plan your wedding day with your dog in mind. Keep your guest list small and your wedding party small if that is what will be best for your dog.
For many people, having their dog in their wedding is more important and special than having 180 guests watching. It's YOUR day, do what YOU want!
2. Have a designated "dog handler"
Maybe you want to walk down the aisle with your dog, or you could have a designated member of your wedding party do this. Just make sure whoever is walking your dog down the aisle has worked with your dog before wedding day.
-Hire a trainer to help you work with your dog before wedding day.
-Hire that same trainer to be the handler in your wedding. This is certainly a less cost effective option, but if it is your dream to have your dog there with you while you say "I do" paying a trainer might be worth it.
3. Wedding dog game plan
Where is your dog going to hang out before and after your wedding ceremony? Obviously with you? Right?!?! If you are entertaining all of your guests, it might not be the easiest to give your dog the attention needed. Having a safe place either on the venue property, or designating someone who will take dog back home after photos can be a good plan.
Have a game plan for your ceremony as well. Maybe you did all the training and practice, but come wedding day, your pup has cold feet! Have a plan if half way through your ceremony, it turns out your dog isn't as happy and content as you thought.
4. ALL THE TREATS!
In addition to treats, don't forget about dinner! Many dogs are very accustomed to their routine at home for walks and dinner. Keep this in mind when planning your day.
If your dog is anything like mine, they need their exercise. Wedding day is usually busy, so you might not have time for your usual 5 mile morning run with the pup. This will only add to your dog's unease during your ceremony. Consider sending your dog to their usual daycare in the morning or prioritizing that morning run. You might have to cut the run a little short, but we all know, an exercised dog is a happy dog.
6. Dog rehearsal
Be sure to rehearse your ceremony with your dog. More than just rehearsing your ceremony, try taking your dog to the farmers market or some other setting with a lot of people and commotion to get a good idea of how your pup really will feel on wedding day.
Not every dog is a social dog and that's ok, as long as you are aware and do what is best for them.
Takeaways to think about
-How does my dog do around large groups?
-How does my dog do when he/she needs to sit and hangout for about 20 minutes?
-What would the best scenario look like if I want my dog to be a part of my wedding day?
The ultimate dog wedding solutions :
-Elope in the mountains. Your hike to your elopement location will give your pup the needed exercise, you won't have the large guest list, you'll be in a pretty spectacular place ((and you'll save a lot of money)) **Just be sure to hire a killer photographer to capture the whole adventure.
-Have a backyard wedding (in a fully fenced space)
-Keep your dog in mind through those early stages of wedding planning.
What if I want to incorporate my dog in my wedding, but it truly just isn't feasible or in their best interest?
Props to you for taking the time to think about this, advocate for your dog, and recognize that this just isn't the best idea.
Plan a photo session with your dog. Maybe this is a day-after session in your wedding attire, or maybe this is a completely separate dog photo session.
Put your dog's face on some piece of your wedding details. There are tons of clever ideas on Etsy. Most recently, I saw cufflinks that each had one of the couple's dogs pictures. A locket on a necklace, bracelet, or pinned to your dress or bouquet are similar options.
Still not settled on how your dog will be a part of your wedding? Reach out! I work with dogs a lot and love helping couples plan their dream wedding day. I would love to help you advocate for your dog on your wedding day!
Final things to remember
- ALL THE TREATS!
-Food and Water
-A blanket, bed, crate or some other familiar, safe place for your dog to relax
Now, here are more wedding pup photos to enjoy!
**Stay tuned for my next blog post, which will be focusing on dog portrait sessions and dog adventure sessions**
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