There’s no need to leave your dog at home on your big day! Better yet, incorporate them into your wedding.
“We have always been dog-friendly,” says “David DiVincenzo, event director at Planterra Conservatory, a Michigan botanical garden wedding venue. “But just in the last couple years, the first time I meet with someone, they bring up their dog.”
And DiVincenzo says he completely understands why.
“These dogs are like family, so if they weren’t there it would be like Aunt Betty was missing!” he says.
Planterra Conservatory isn’t the only wedding venue seeing a recent spike in four-legged ring bearers and flower girls. Including pets in wedding day festivities is a growing (absolutely adorable) wedding trend.
But like any wedding trend, there are always important factors to consider and ways to ensure they are carried out without a hitch. So, DiVincenzo offers three helpful tips to couples planning to give their dog a wedding-day role.
Choose a pet-friendly venue
If you are 100 percent set on including your dog in your wedding day, DiVincenzo says it’s absolutely vital for couples to check with their desired venue before making any decisions. He explains that certain venues, like Planterra Conservatory, have pet-friendly outdoor spaces, VIP rooms for smaller dogs to hang out during the reception and plans in place to remove any, um, messes that might come with a four-legged ring bearer.
“Listen, life is life, and, yes, dogs have had accidents, and it gets dealt with,” he says with a laugh. “But honestly, I think we’ve had more success with dogs getting down the aisles than children.”
Other venues, because of their historical significance or particular rules, may not be as ideal.
“Let’s just say this: if they don’t allow you to drink red or have candles, chances are they aren’t going to allow you to bring your pet with you,” DiVincenzo says.
So if couples know their pet is a vital member of the wedding party, it’s crucial to have that conversation before papers are signed.
He also recommends asking to bring your pet along with you to the venue as often as possible – and at least for the rehearsal – so they are able to become familiar with the space.
Reflect on your dog’s disposition
As much as dog-owners may want to include their furry BFF in every aspect of the wedding day, DiVincenzo recommends couples consider their dog’s feelings, too.
“Really ask yourself if your dog is good with large groups of people,” he says. “If they are staring down an aisle of 150 people, will they freak out?”
He told a story of one bride who included her beautiful-but-massive Himalayan Mastiff in her wedding. This particular breed is known to be skittish around strangers and extremely protective of their owners. The dog was well behaved, but with a room full of strangers angling to wrap his beloved owner in congratulatory hugs, DiVincenzo says the dog was clearly uncomfortable and a few growls snuck through.
He recommends that if your dog is nervous in crowds, noisy, overly protective or just older, it might be a better idea to feature your fur baby in the engagement session, getting ready photos or bridal portraits.
Remember, the last thing you’ll want on your wedding day is to see your pet nervous or unhappy, so honestly reflect on their disposition ahead of time.
Consider your own stress-levels
Finally, DiVincenzo says it’s absolutely essential for couples to consider their own wedding day stress levels and how having their dog present will either soothe or intensify that.
For bride Bianca Vito, including her French Bulldog Gaia in her wedding day calmed her nerves and helped her to enjoy the day.
“We didn’t tell any of the guests that Gaia was going to be part of the wedding,” she says. “The idea that the guests would be surprised was so exciting, and it helped distract me from being nervous the day of the event.”
If, on the other hand, you will spend the day worrying about how Baxter the Beagle is handling the crowds, it might be best to consider an alternative way of including him.
Divincenzo also says that couples should assign a “dog attendant” to their pup for the day, reminding them that, “someone has to take care of them, and it can’t be you.”
Every couple wants to find special wedding day roles for their best friends, even the knee-high ones covered in fluff. By considering these three tips in advance, couples will be able to include their pets in a way that best suits them, their day and their dog.