Raining Cats & Dogs
dog wedding
It's Raining Cats and Dogs trainer trainer Adriane Villenueva's dog participated in her wedding. (Image courtesy Adrianne Villenueva)

Tips for having dogs in your wedding

By Tamara Nicole
Wedding Planner

Thinking about having Fido walk you down the aisle? Here are a few things to consider if you're thinking of having a pet in your wedding.

Consider personality: Does he/she do well in crowds? Social or shy? How old, will this be physically challenging? If it's more stress than fun, it may be a good idea to include them in other ways.

Check with venue: Are pets allowed? Restaurants, churches usually don't allow pets. Outdoor venues may allow it. Some hotels may allow pets as well. Also check with officiant and inform vendors that will be a part of your wedding so they know what to expect, and can prepare.

With the venue, there may be specific rules or associated fee.

If staying at hotel, make sure they allow dogs.

If a dog is crate trained, bring it along so they can feel safe/familiar.

What role will dog be playing? Ring bearer, wedding party, greeter? Will they have a special outfit? There are many companies that offer custom outfits

If you're doing a special outfit, try it on beforehand to get them used to it. Make sure it's not too heavy, and that it fits. Have them practice walking in it.

Take your dog to the space beforehand to get familiar with it. Also, see if there may be trouble spots

If the animal is skittish or older: consider having someone pull them in a wagon?

Make sure there are no flowers, etc. that may be toxic to your pup. (Calla lily, carnations, etc.)

Note pet will be attending on the wedding website, so guests can plan accordingly (may have allergies, scared, etc)

Notify photographer, they will be mentally prepared to pose with the dog and may come up with cute ideas

If you haven't already, consider enrolling dog(s) in obedience classes to learn basic commands (sit, stay, heel, etc)

If the dog is a ring bearer, don't give them actual rings to hold.

Consider a cute collar or leash. Tutus, tuxes, and dresses can be cute.

Tell the caterer, they may need to plan displays differently

Arrange for care before, during, and after the ceremony. Pick someone the pet trusts and will feel comfortable with. Make sure they have supplies, food, water, crate and stuff to pick up accidents, etc. Allow for many potty breaks

Bring favorite treats and keep them on hand in case they can't sit still or you need attention for pictures.

Have an exit plan in case they can sit through ceremony.

Always make sure dog is on leash, even if well trained.

You may want to consider wedding insurance, especially with a dog in attendance just in case.

Consider hiring a pet sitter, who can take them home after, or just in charge of watching them.

Other ways to honor

Have dog greet guests
Have dog there while getting ready
Just during portraits
Photo or outline on tote or welcome bag
In invites or stationary
Engagement photos
Photo for table numbers
Name tables after family pets
Bone shaped cookies
Wedding favors
On cake (topper, etc)

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