* because you can’t have a wedding without your best friend!
When my husband and I got married the idea of having our dog in our wedding seemed a little bit radical. Maybe its because our wedding was in the midwest (where fancy church weddings were the norm) but a lot of people seemed a bit surprised when we said that our dog would be our flower girl.
Fast forward eight years (and move me 500 miles west to the mountains!) and dog weddings seem way more normal. As someone who primarily shoots outdoor weddings for the types of people who LOVE dogs, over 75% of the weddings I shoot have dogs in them in some capacity.
And let’s be honest, I love it.
As someone who shoots a LOT of these types of weddings and is used to the challenged that having your furry friend around can involve, I have some advice (from the trenches!) on how to involve your dog in a way that is stress free, safe, and FUN!
1. Know Your Dog
All dogs are different. Some are super chill and can roll with the punches of whatever the day throws their way. They sit comfortably at their owners’ feet during the ceremony and wander freely during the reception. Other dogs? They’re a bit more high strung and need a little more attention when it comes to keeping them safe and happy. Know your dog’s personality and keep that in mind when making plans!
2. Have a Designated Dog Handler
Having someone (NOT the bride or groom, and preferably not someone in the wedding party!) whose job it is to be in charge of the dog can help lessen the stress on everyone and keep all parties involved safe and happy. Make sure your dog handler knows and loves your dog and is ready and able to take them away from the area if they become overwhelmed.
3. Be Ready to Roll with the Punches
Our sweet, mellow black lab (miss you, Maddie!) was the flower girl at our wedding. She walked down the aisle with my maid of honor and took her place at the front, next to our officiant. And then, just as I was about to walk in with my parents I heard a crash. She had knocked over a vase with her wiggly little butt. Glass and water went flying and everyone gasped. Her designated handler (see, this is why its important!) got her out of there so she didn’t cut her feet and the show rolled on. It wasn’t a big deal, mostly because I didn’t care. All that to say, be ready for things to go wrong! You never know what might happen.
4. Be Ready to Not be the Center of Attention
Dogs at weddings tend to steal the show, especially if those dogs are dressed in some sort of wedding attire! Most of my couples LOVE this (I mean, if you’re the kind of person who wants your dog at your wedding you obviously really love your dog!) and are stoked to have their best buds be getting so much love. But if you want all eyes to be on you? Maybe think long and hard about having your dog in your wedding!
5. Pick Vendors Who Get It
Not all people are dog people and that’s ok (in theory – personally I don’t understand how anyone can not like dogs!) and not all venues allow pups. Make sure to surround yourself and your wedding day with vendors who get it. If your coordinator is annoyed that your dog is around or your photographer thinks they’re a hinderance more than a big, important part of your day, its going to be tough. Surround yourself with the people who know that dogs are family too and are stoked that your best friend is there!
6. Enjoy every minute of it!
Having your dog in your wedding can add an extra layer of complexity but for those of us who really love dogs, its totally worth it. If you can’t imagine having your big day without your pup present, just go for it. Having dogs in wedding is becoming more and more the norm (especially if you’re lucky enough to be getting married in Colorado!). I promise that, even if things go a little bit awry, you’ll look back on all of it and laugh!
Need some more inspiration? Check out these weddings in which dogs were the guests of honor!