Weddings are a celebration of love and family, so if your family includes a beloved dog, why not include him in your wedding ceremony? If the bride and groom are in agreement, well-behaved canines can fill many roles in a wedding, to the delight of guests. Wedding suppliers now feature special wedding attire for dogs and even wedding toppers featuring dogs. Having your dog with you can be a relaxing presence that can help you truly enjoy your day
Here's how to include your furry friend in your wedding celebrations...
- Make sure everyone on your guest list is comfortable having your pet around. You should consult with your spouse-to-be, and you may need to ask your guests directly. If your future father-in-law has a fur allergy or your bridesmaid is terrified of dogs, leave your pet out.
- Check to make certain that your pet will be welcome at the sites your wedding takes place at. Make sure everyone you've hired for the wedding knows what you are planning. You don't want your officiant sneezing his way through the ceremony due to a pet hair allergy.
- Occasionally, our furry friends can steal the show so decide what you want your pet to do. Keep in mind your pet's temperament and abilities. If your puppy is just starting to learn how to sit, it's not fair to expect her to trot up to the altar with a pillow bearing the rings!
- Practise, practise, practise. Like any trick or new behaviour, your wedding routine needs to be reinforced for your pet. Take it slowly and keep it positive. If your pet is going to be wearing a new item, like a bow tie collar or a ring pillow, put it on several times before the actual event. Offer treats and praise, even for just wearing the new item. If you can, practise a few times in the actual location so your pet will be familiar with it. If the location isn't available, try practising in lots of different places so your pet will feel confident in a strange place.
- Designate someone to watch your pet. Even if your pet's role in the wedding is as simple as sitting next to you, neither you nor your fiancé can really be expected to give the pet your full attention during the wedding. Try to choose someone your pet already knows and trusts. If you can't, arrange a meeting ahead of time so your pet can get used to its minder for the day. You could always use a professional dog minder such as Barking Mad (see left) who could bring your pet along in time for the photographs.
- Be flexible. No matter how well you plan, something may not work out as you planned it, especially with your pet involved. Be prepared for scenarios like your pet getting stage fright or having an accident. Your pet minder should have the option of taking your pet outside or even back home if your pet acts up or seems uncomfortable.
- Remember that, even though we love our pets, not all of them are meant to be at weddings. Consider carefully whether your pet will be comfortable and happy at your ceremony or reception. As much as you may want your pet there, your pet may be far more content staying at home with a favourite toy. Also, remember again that your pet may not be enjoyed by others as much as it is by you.
- Particularly if you are going away on honeymoon, you may want to consider booking your dog in with the pet sitter or kennels the day before your wedding. If you don’t already have a kennels in mind ask friends and family who they recommend. Make sure he has a good holiday too – browse the links on the left for some ideas.