Monday, April 8, 2013

Tips for Involving Your Dog in Your Wedding

By Tamara McRill

Have you ever thought about how great it would be to have your dog prancing proudly down the aisle at your wedding? After all, the ceremony is supposed to be a gathering of friends and family. Shouldn't your four-legged pals be there too?

Of course they can, although there are some considerations and practicalities to consider before you start fitting your dog for his tux. Once you have those sorted out, you can determine the best role your pet can have in your nuptials.

Is Your Dog Ceremony Ready?

What you should really consider before getting too excited about the idea of including your pet is if your dog is up to the task of being in your wedding. Is your dog calm around strangers? Will he tolerate wearing any extra adornments for the occasion? Carefully consider whether your dog would really prefer to be relaxing at home instead of at your wedding.

You can check my “Should You Bring a Non-Service Dog to a Wedding?” post for a full list of considerations before deciding to let your pooch participate on your wedding day. It covers everything from potential problems for guests to whether the venue even allows pets. Just remember that you will need someone your dog is comfortable with to be their “handler” during the ceremony. You will be a little busy getting hitched.

Man's Best Friend as Best Man

There's a certain poetry in having a dog as best man or even as a bridesmaid. Your dog has stood by your side for everything else and has probably been truer than any friend you may have. There are even wedding outfits made just for pets that would work well as formal wear, or you could just gussy them up with a festive bow or necktie.

Ring Bearers and Flower Dogs

These may be the easiest roles for your dog, since they just have to walk down the aisle to you. You can even have a child in the same capacity lead them to you, given that they are able to handle your pet and aren't afraid of dogs. Just tie the ring pillow around your dog if they are going to be the ring bearer.

Flower dogs can have a shallow basket tied to their backs that will dispense petals. There are even little wagons made specifically for dogs taking the role of flower girl, that will disperse the petals for them. Be sure that whatever type of flower petals they are tossing on the aisle are not poisonous to dogs. Your safest bet would be to use fake petals.

Canine Dancers

Think of this as a new twist on the father-daughter dance. If you have a dog who dances – our Cody does – and is comfortable with crowds, then it might be fun to have them do a dance with you at the reception. If they are well-trained, they could even perform a little canine freestyle dance number on their own and work as part of the reception entertainment. What crowd doesn't love a cute dancing dog?

Four-Legged Parade to the Reception

To think practically, unless you are holding your wedding in your own backyard, it may be difficult to find a venue that will let your pet be on the premises. That doesn't mean your dog can't be present for any of your big day. If your ceremony and reception venue are within walking distance, you could have your dog join you, your wedding party and guests in a parade from one site to another.

If your reception isn't nearby, you can at least have your dog ride with you on the way. You'll just need someone responsible to make sure they get to the location and back home safely.

Wedding Video Guest

With people now getting married via Skype and other video chatting services, why not have your dog participate that way? You can hook your laptop up to your television and point your web camera where your pet normally hangs out at home. Of course you'll have to make sure everything is out of harm’s way, just in case they get excited.

Furry Photo Montage

For dogs that would really rather not be around all those guests or the logistics of getting them to the wedding just don't work out, you can always just include photos of them with you as a couple. Have these displayed on a table, so guests know just how important your pets are to you. You could also include footage or photographs of your pet in a video or slide show produced for your guests.

Whatever role your pet has in your ceremony, remember that they will probably need extensive training – and plenty of yummy CANIDAE dog treat rewards – to get it right.

Would you want to include your dog in your wedding ceremony, or perhaps you already have? Feel free to share in the comments!

Top photo by Linda at
Middle photo by  Matt Chan
Bottom photo by carterse

Read more articles by Tamara McRill


  1. An interesting idea. However, all the dogs we have ever owned would have taken over a wedding or any other social event. You must have heard the advice given to film actors about never working with animals - you get upstaged.

    When we owned lab-sized dogs it might have been possible, but now we have a one year old Pyrennean mountain dog who weighs 60Kg (130 pounds), is bouncily friendly, and gets bored easily.

  2. My dog is too nervous around crowds to be in a wedding. Plus, every Halloween, I manages to wiggle out of her costumes within minutes and then gives me this like she's saying, "Really? You really thought I wouldn't be able to get out of this one, too?" :)

  3. I think my dog would love the attention. She's very well behaved. She wouldn't want to wear any clothes either. How risque! ;)

  4. haha. me and my wife actually spoke about have our boy and girl dogs on our wedding. would've been a laugh. ina sense, they are our kids. our staffies are very freindly and easily distracted, and no doubt would have jumped up on someone lap during the ceremony.


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