Dogs At Weddings: Expert advice to make sure your adorable dog is involved on your wedding day
With wedding season firmly upon us, more people than ever before are opting to involve their four-legged friend in the big day.
According to online pet product experts yappy.com a quarter of nearly-wed dog owners plan to enlist their pet pooch to play a leading role in their wedding day, with some even choosing the dog over a friend as a bridesmaid
And more than a third of Brits have attended a wedding with a dog in attendance in the last 12 months, with Google searches for “pets at weddings” up 200 per cent on the same time last year.
But there are a number of potential pitfalls to consider when planning your big day with your pup, and the experts at Hitched.co.uk are on hand to help.
Rima Barakeh, deputy editor and wedding expert at Hitched.co.uk, explained: “As lovely as it would be to have your dog walking down the aisle with you, there are a number of things to consider before you make the decision to have a pet-friendly wedding. From venue permission and allergies, to training and practice runs, there's a lot to consider before deciding to include your dog in your wedding day.
“Ultimately, when making this decision, you need to look at your big day through your dog's eyes. Is this going to be an enjoyable experience for them? Will they have a fun day? Is it feasible? Being able to include your beloved pet in your wedding is an amazing thing, but it has to work on a practical level for you, your guests, the wedding venue and most importantly, your pet.”
Here are her top tips.
Check with your venue
Before anything else, you need to check with your wedding venue that they allow dogs on the premises. Most wedding venues will have a pet or animal policy that they can share with you. Some venues will be more than happy to open their doors to animals, some will only allow pets to be outside, and others won't allow pets on site at all. If having your dog at your wedding is completely non-negotiable, this is something you should check with venues before you book and get tied into any contracts.
If you do get the go ahead, and if at all possible, try and take your dog to the venue before the big day for a bit of a 'practise run'. This is a great chance to see whether or not there are any triggers for your pet such as loud noises, busy car parks or any other animals on site that could be an issue on the day.
Allocate a dedicated dog sitter
When dogs are included in weddings, it's likely that their main role will be during the ceremony either as a ring bearer or walking the couple down the aisle - it makes for gorgeous wedding pictures! If that's your plan, make sure you have a trusty dog-lover, maybe someone from your wedding party, to keep your pup occupied in the in-between parts of the day. Ideally, this should be someone who knows your pet and who they are familiar with.
Remember their needs
On an average day, most pet owners will take their dogs for walks at least twice a day. The structure of a wedding day doesn't always allow for rest-and-relax breaks, so ensure your dog has scheduled times throughout the wedding day to have a run around and let off some steam too.
Similarly, think of their personality. If your dog is shy and doesn't like being around people, or if they're very overly energetic and excitable, it may not be the right fit to have them at your wedding. As lovely as the idea is, for some couples, having your pet at your wedding just isn't what's best for them.
Pup-are, pup-are, pup-are!
Not all dogs are well-accustomed to large groups of people so, before the big day, embrace as many opportunities as possible to get your pooch out and about with larger crowds. Family BBQs or pet-friendly festivals are great events to see whether or not your dog is comfortable at big events. I'd also advise some form of rehearsal or training to prepare your pet, especially if you're planning on having them as your ring bearer.
Consider your guests
Do you have any wedding guests who are allergic to dogs? Do any of the staff at the venue, or your suppliers have an allergy or fear of pets? Is someone deathly afraid? Whilst it doesn't have to be a 'them or the dog' situation, it's worth informing people so that they can take extra measures such as taking anti-histamine tablets and being aware that they should keep their distance on the day.