Bride kisses dog wedding day at Hardy Farm in Maine
We know your dogs are a part of your family and lots of you want to have your fur-child to have a starring role in the biggest day of your lives. We have hosted plenty of furry ring bearers and four-legged groomsman and have a few tips if you want to include your dog in your special day!

Think of Your Dog First

Spend some time thinking about your specific and special dog. Think about what he or she likes and doesn’t. LOTS of dogs don’t like crowds, loud music, and strangers. Many have little experience with children or older adults that may move differently than the humans they are used to hanging out with. Some may be easily excitable or can’t resist the temptation of food sitting out on tables.

If having them a part of your day would make them nervous or put them in harm’s way, maybe let them sit this out and try to find other ways to incorporate them in your day. You could name your specialty cocktails after them, have your table numbers be photos of your pet, add them to your cake topper, or make ‘doggy bags’ with their photo for your guests to take home.

All through your planning, you should be communicating with your partner about what you want the day to be like. If you think having your dog there will cause you to stress, it won’t be fun for anyone.

Communicate with your partner your expectations and hopes for the day. Be on the same page. What is the backup plan? How serious or important are which parts? Be ready to embrace the quirks.

Make it a Safe Space for Them

On a busy day with lots of people in a place they aren’t used to, there are definitely some opportunities for your pet to find some trouble.

Bring your pet to the site before the day – show them the grounds, where to do their business, where their safe spot is. You know your dog – they want to check out new spaces, get that out of the way before the big day.

Determine who will be in charge of your dog during each part of your wedding day. No matter how well-behaved your dog is, they will need guidance through the day. For example, even the most well-meaning guests have a hard time not slipping treats to your best friend. We have met a few furry friends who camped out ALL day at the cheese table and found plenty fo folks to skip them ‘just one piece’.

Also, think about your flowers and make sure none of them are toxic to animals. Ask your venue about the pesticides on their property or if there are any other animals in the area you should be aware of.

Dog lays with couple on wedding day by fire pit
Make Sure People Know Your Dog Will be There

Set everyone up for success and make sure everyone knows your dog will be there on your wedding day. Announce your special 4-legged gust on your wedding website. Some guest may be allergic or will just benefit with the advanced notice.

Make sure you tell your wedding planner and photographer that your dog will be there. Help them plan for unexpected moments. Let your wedding planner bring their experience to the best times to have your pet involved.

Pet photography is also its own beast, let your photographer know so they can plan for unexpected moments and brainstorm some ideas for your first official family photos!

Know Your Dog’s Role for the Entire Day

Designate someone to be in charge and walk through the whole day and where your dog will be. Who is primarily in charge of your dog during the entire day? It should be someone they are comfortable with and it shouldn’t be left to you and your partner.

Think about getting ready in the morning. Decide how you want them involved in the ceremony and what they can handle. We have seen lots of success with dogs walking down the aisle and then sitting with their designated person in the front row.

Decide when they will be able to go for walks, when and where they will eat, and where they can go if things are too much for them. Also, decide when it is a good time for them to retire for the night and where that will be. We don’t know very many dogs who like late night dance parties. After a long day, they may just want to go curl up and have some quiet time.

Try Props Out Before the Big Day

The prettiest pooches may head to the groomer before the big show. We know a dog in a tux or with a flower color is adorable but give your pooch some time to get used to their new ‘outfit’. Try any props, clothes, or adornments on at home and let them get used to them.

We have seen lots of folks use shorter leashes day of to keep their pup close by. We have also seen adorable little pups tugged along in wagon down the aisle. Just make sure to give Fido a chance to get used to any new props, clothes, or changes so they can be set up for success!

Bull dog ring bearer

Our two favorite ways your fur-baby can participate

Morning Prep

Getting ready the morning of with your pet is a wonderful way for them to be involved. It makes for some adorable photos and as you know, having them around can reduce anxiety and provide some extra opportunities to laugh and relax.

Groom with dog - wedding day

Dog waits while bride is getting ready

“Just Married” Walk

After the ceremony and before the reception take your dogs for a walk. Enjoy your first official family stroll, connect with your new spouse and reflect on the ceremony while preparing for the bustling reception. Make sure to invite your photographer to tag along for some one-of-a-kind shots.

Walk with the dogs between ceremony and reception to reflect with your partner and catch your breath. “Just married” walk.

Just Married walk with husky in the winter

We love the idea of having dogs in your big day! It just takes some thoughtfulness, planning, and communication but there isn’t much better.

Let us know if you have any other questions about incorporating your pet into your big day!