The Wedding Day, for most couples, is about family. Being able to spend your big day surrounded by those you love makes the day extra special and allows for the creation of fond memories that will last a lifetime. For us dog lovers, the word “family” isn’t complete until our four-legged furbabies are at our sides. And for couples across the globe, the wedding day is no different. The flower girl and ring bearer are no longer the smallest (and cutest!) members of the wedding party. Enter “flower-pups” and “ring security”!
When choosing our wedding location, my husband and I had already decided our furbaby trio would be part of the special day. Lucky for us, our first choice was extremely pet friendly and allowed our babies to be part of the ceremony and on the vineyard grounds for pictures. Without them, a piece of us would have been missing, and we are ever so grateful our entire family could be together in celebration!
Now was it easy? That’s debatable. If you ask my sister, who as matron of honor also had the duty of walking Kizzy, our French Bulldog, down the aisle (in five inch heels, none the less), she might have a different opinion! Kizzy came around the corner and started gruffing and barking at the photographers, leaving my sister to grab on tight to her bouquet and to Kizzy! It’s one of my favorite parts of the ceremony, however, because I heard everyone start to laugh. It lightened the mood, put smiles on everyone’s faces and dried up any tears I was thinking about shedding on the walk down the aisle.
Including them in our day did require pre-planning and preparation. Our dogs are pretty well behaved and listen for the most part, but being in a new environment surrounded by strangers could cause stress and change all of that quickly!
We made sure to rehearse with the pups the evening before as much as possible to get them used to the family member walking them and to the grounds. We were married outside, so we needed to watch the temperature. October in Virginia can be tricky, and with three smooshy faces, their comfort during the ceremony was of most importance.
We also needed to recruit help from our family to watch the dogs during the ceremony. Since our ceremony was short in length, the pups stayed outside with us until the end. This required some assistance in keeping the pups entertained and on a short leash! Our family also helped with making the pups comfortable after the ceremony, with feeding and with bathroom breaks – all very important to remember on a day that is traditionally focused on the bride and groom. We didn’t mind sharing the spotlight!
I put together an easy checklist for you below if you are thinking about including furkids in your special day. These are all good things to think about as you start planning!
1. Ask if your venue allows pets. Before picking out that flower collar or sparkly tutu, first and foremost make sure your venue allows dogs on the premises. Check for contract stipulations and if there are certain areas your dog can and cannot be on the grounds. The last thing you want at the end of a fantastic wedding night is a bill for contract violations or damages.
2. Plan which part of the day your pooch will participate in and what their role will be. Maybe the dogs are allowed on the grounds for the ceremony but not inside the venue during dinner and dancing. Maybe your entire day is outside and your pooches can be with you at all times. Based on what your venue allows, decide how you want your furbabies incorporated into your day early on in the planning process. Will they be your flowerpups? Ring bearer? Will they walk down the aisle with you or with someone else? Start preparing their role, picking up the necessary accessories, so they can get used to the idea early on. If you have a dog that hates wearing clothing, adding a frilly tutu minutes before the ceremony could be a disaster.
3. Decide if your dog can rise to the challenge. Weddings are stressful events, and without time to plan and prepare, there are many stressors that could affect your dog’s behavior. Is your dog sociable or anxious around strangers? Is he or she bouncing around with energy at all times? Is he or she shy or aggressive? These are all good things to think about as you plan to add your pooches in your day. I believe with extra preparation and knowing how your dog reacts to stressful events, you can do it in a way that works best for you.
4. Decide who will take care of the pups (and make sure they know!) Sometimes as the bride or groom, you think you are invincible and can do everything on the wedding day. You can’t. Ask for help. If you think you’ll have a spare moment to take care of your dogs, take it from me, you won’t. Pick someone your dogs feel comfortable with and who will be able to soothe their stresses and keep them under control during the day. Talk over your plans with the individuals so they have plenty of time to ask questions and get the routine down. If your family or close friends will be too busy during the day to tend to your dogs, ask your regular dogwalker or dogsitter to help out. They might know your dogs better and know the care they need more so than a family member.
5. Rehearse! Rehearse! Rehearse! Practice makes perfect, so use your rehearsal time the night before to practice and ensure your dog and your dog’s handler knows exactly what to do and when to do it. It will ensure both feel comfortable with their roles during the real thing.
6. Get clean! A few days before the ceremony would be a good time to give your pooches some extra pampering. Depending on how your dogs will be incorporated, a bath will do wonders for your pooch and help out any guests that may have allergies. Clip those nails, brush those teeth and trim up loose ends. You want your pups smelling as sweet as you!
7. Plan for photo ops. Make sure your photographer knows of your plans to incorporate your dogs into pictures and when the best time will be for those photo ops. If it’s a hot, sunny day, it might be best to take photos with your dogs first thing. Plan the shots you might want and talk those over with your photographers. Our day got away from us, and we did not get enough shots with our own pups. Make it a priority and plan the shots ahead of time.
Were your furry babies part of your special day? Additional tips or heartwarming stories to share?
All photos taken by Simply Bloom Photography.