If you've got an adorable dog, they might just be the perfect addition to your wedding. Especially if you and your partner have raised the dog together, there's a special bond shared between the three of you, and having a wedding without them might be hard to imagine.
"Your dog is a member of the family and dog lovers around the world understand this," says Heidi Brissette, owner of SHE Luxe Weddings. "It is incredibly meaningful to know that you were able to take pictures and capture such a momentous day alongside your fur baby."
Meet the Expert
Heidi Brissette is the owner and creative director of SHE Luxe Weddings, a luxury event planning company with offices in Maine and Massachusetts.
While there are certainly other pets, such as cats, that could be included in your wedding, dogs are typically the easiest to manage. After all, cats can be very particular animals, and they're more likely to be skittish or unreliable in front of a crowd.
To get your planning started on including your pooch in your big day, scroll below for a complete guide on how to prep.
Things to Consider About Your Dog Being Your Ring Bearer
Before you make the decision to include your dog in your big day, be sure your furry friend is up for the job. Consider the following questions:
- What exactly will your dog's role consist of?
- Does your dog have any issues being in crowds or around certain types of people?
- Does your dog get jealous or have separation issues?
- Are they trained well enough to handle a long wedding day, without getting restless, barking, or jumping during the ceremony?
While your well-behaved dog will, of course, be such a fun addition to your wedding photos, you can also let them play a bigger role in your day, serving as your ring bearer. "As dog parents, their fur baby is a symbol of their commitment to each other before marriage," says Brissette. "Therefore, having their dog bring the symbol of their marriage, which is the ring, is a great addition to the ceremony."
Some couples decide to have their dog actually carry their rings to the altar for them, but Brissette suggests considering an alternative route, depending on the dog. Consider either tying fake rings on the collar or just have your dog dressed up in a bowtie or floral collar to make an appearance. That way, you can include your pup while still keeping the rings safe and in-place with a dedicated safekeeper.
Dressing Your Dog as a Ring Bearer
There may not be anything cuter than a dog in a costume. And as long as the outfit fits well and isn't too frustrating, dogs typically don't seem to mind them. Be sure your dog is dressed up and looking dapper.
"Our favorite way to dress up a pooch is a classic bowtie to match the groomsmen or a beautiful floral or greenery collar or wreath to match the bridesmaids," says Brissette. You can also purchase special bow tie collars with clips on them to secure and hold the rings.
Be sure your dog tries on their collar or costume before the wedding. Wearing it around the house for a day will help to determine if it fits well and will stay steady on the big day.
Training Your Dog as Your Ring Bearer
Certainly, if your dog is well-behaved, it'll be easy to include them in your wedding. But be sure to plan ahead to make certain everything will be covered on the day-of. "You don't want to be taking care of your dog in your beautiful wedding gown or your sharp suit," says Brissette.
Before your wedding, have your dog practice walking down an aisle, reaffirming their understanding of walking, sitting, and keeping quiet while rewarding with treats.
Be sure to have a friend, family member, or hired dog handler on-site you can entrust with the task of taking care of your dog for the day. "Have a designated friend, hired help, or handler on-site at least an hour before the ceremony to provide a nice walk to get out the energy," says Brissette.
Brissette also advises keeping your dog on a leash at all times. "Even the most well-trained dogs sometimes get overly excited running down an aisle into a crowd," she says.
Be sure to designate someone in charge of giving your dog water throughout the day and making sure they take care of doing their business before their debut down the aisle.
What to Do With Your Dog After the Ceremony
Be sure you have a plan in place for after you've tied the knot. This may all depend on your venue. Getting married at a pet-friendly venue, like a ranch or farm? Consider keeping your dog around for cocktail hour. After all, the guest of honor should have time to greet guests and pose for photos! This will also give you time to take portraits with your pooch once you're not worried about getting paw prints on your wedding gown. Then, have a dog sitter take your pup back to your home or to a local pet boarding facility for the night. If you're getting married in your hometown or have a friend or family member who lives nearby, have a dog sitter take them back to the house, where they'll be more comfortable.
If you're having your reception at a hotel that's happy to have four-legged guests, bringing your pooch up to your hotel room may be the best bet. Just be sure to assign someone to check on your dog a few times throughout the night to make sure everything is alright.