Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Should You Take a (Non-Service) Dog to a Wedding?

By Tamara McRill

Naturally, we would like to have our canine companions present at all of life's major events, but does this include weddings? With two exceptions, there isn't an easy answer, whether you're the bride and groom or a guest. If you're thoughtful and ask questions the answer shouldn't be too hard to come up with.

Here are some questions to ask and issues to think over before bringing your dog to a wedding:

Ask the Bride and Groom

This is your first stop on your way to seeing if your dog can be your plus one. It also happens to be the easiest way to find out if your dog would be welcome at the nuptials. If the bride or groom say no, then that's your answer. Don't try to pressure them otherwise—it's their special day.

Does the Venue Allow Dogs?

The second easiest way to discover if your non-service animal can attend the ceremony or reception is to ask if the venue allows animals. Most inside facilities—and some outdoor ones—don't allow pets on the premises. So even if the bride gives you the green light, make sure to check. She'll have enough on her plate with the planning.

Check the Guests

Is anyone on the guest list allergic or afraid of dogs? If so, then it might be best to leave your dog at home or in the hotel room. You don't want to not ask and have the groom's sister bring things to a halt by having an allergy induced asthma attack or some other scenario. Again, the spotlight should be on the couple and not any distress inadvertently caused by your pet.

Friendly and Trained?

Has your dog been taught to sit quietly among a group of strangers? Don't guess or risk it with a dog that has never been in that kind of situation. Even if your dog is well-behaved, they may still be affected by all the excitement and get antsy.

Do They Have Bladder Control?

Remember, you may not be able to get up in the middle of the ceremony to take your dog to relieve himself. If your pet has trouble holding it for a few minutes, then you might want to reconsider bringing her along. (Always let your dog go to the bathroom before any event, regardless of bladder control.) As this video shows, you never know where a dog will relieve themselves—even if it's on the wedding dress!

Food for Thought

Are you absolutely sure your dog can resist sampling the wedding food? And will you be able to keep an eye on your pooch at all times so a guest doesn't feed him something he shouldn't have? Food that’s deadly to pets, like chocolate for example, is often served at weddings. Never bring a hungry pet to a wedding reception. It will be torture for them and make disturbances more likely. Try to bring along dog treats and even some CANIDAE dog food so they can eat too.

Will You be Drinking?

If you plan on having more than one alcoholic beverage at the wedding reception, then it would be safer to not bring your dog. With dulled senses you won't be able to keep track of your pet like a busy social event demands. You might be able to bring your dog to the ceremony, but get them safely home before cocktail hour begins.

If the bride, groom and guests are all dog people and you've gone through all the possibilities, then your pet will probably enjoy being at the wedding.

Have you ever taken a dog to a wedding? How did it go?

Photo by Deb Gray

Read more articles by Tamara McRill


  1. I have never taken a dog to a wedding. There was only ever one wedding that it would have been suitable (a public park, entirely outdoors), and it never even occurred to me to ask! Heck, most of the time, in my experience, people don't even bring their babies to weddings.

  2. My friend's daughter had her reception at a community center and it was both indoors and outdoors. We spent part of the reception with just my family (kids were invited) and then we went back to the bed and breakfast and picked up our dog for the rest of the reception (with my friend's permission, of course). He's only 11 pounds and we held onto him the entire time while outside (we didn't take him inside), and he was a big hit. We even bought him a tuxedo that we got from Party City and he was a hit but we kept him quiet so that the bride was the center of attention.

  3. As a bride, if one of my guests asked me if this was ok, I would have thought they were nuts! I brought Finn to a vacation where we went to the wedding, I wouldn't have ever dreamed to bring her to the actual wedding itself!

  4. I certainly have never thought about taking a dog to a wedding unless everyone was bringing their dogs and everyone were animal people. It is just rude for people that don't do dogs to speak of. Those are some good points.

  5. Okay... My Matron of Honour was shocked that I didn't want my Golden Retriever somehow involved in the wedding since we went everywhere together. Basically,if Annie was welcome... I figured I wasn't either. I just saw the muddy footprint on the dress and golden fur all over the tuxes. It was a somewhat destination wedding. I do wish we had figured out how to take a picture with her now that she is gone.. but I can't imagine taking a dog to a wedding unless it was on the invite.


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