Including Pets in Your Wedding

Adam and Ashley include their dog, Hudson, in a wedding portrait outside their Russian Hill apartment in San Francisco.

One of my favorite parts about Katie and James' wedding was that they included both their dog, Ember, and James' parents' dog, Cabo, in all of their wedding festivities.  As a dog lover and all around animal person, I loved having those two at the wedding, and I completely understand how most pets quickly attain family member status.  Personally, we love our little Kiki so much that we try to take her with us wherever we go, but as dog owners, we also understand the importance of planning ahead when taking our pup on excursions.  It is no different when you want to include them in your wedding, and so I thought I'd write out some of the things you'll want to think about if you plan to include your dog(s) at your wedding.  I'm gearing this specifically for dogs, but most of the advice can apply to other animals.

First things first:  Cover the basics.

1.  Have you cleared your dog's presence with your venue?  Not all of the beautiful places that have weddings want to risk their furniture, floors and gardens.

Chihuahua enjoys the Keating Hotel in San Diego, California.

2.  Are all of your vendors on board with having your pets around?  Just think, what if your officiant had an allergy-attack in the middle of your vows?

3.  Who will clean up after your pet?  No guest wants to step in dog poop at a wedding.  Also, who will be in charge of feeding your pet and giving them water?

4.  Will chewing be a problem?  You know if your dog is likely to nibble on your beautiful wedding touches.

Next (and most importantly), think about the impact your wedding will have on your pup.  Is having your pet at the wedding something that your pet will enjoy or is it really just to make you and your fiance happy?

5.  Will the music be too loud for your dog?  Dogs' ears are far more sensitive than ours and a bass-heavy dance party could damage their ears.

6.  Will your summer wedding be too hot for your pet?  Some dogs cannot be out in the heat for long periods of time.

7.  Will your wedding overstimulate your dog?  Our Kiki is a high-strung dog who gets easily excited.  Too many new people might scare your pet and make them defensive and reactive.

Once you've made sure that having your pet at the wedding is both doable and the best decision for everyone involved, then you can start thinking about how to incorporate your dog into the wedding.  Here are some ideas:

1.  Portraits!  We love including dogs in the portraits.  Unless your pup is super well-trained, you may want to add a little more time for the portrait portion since photographing animals can be a little more finicky.

Golden Retriever Hogan poses for wedding portraits with Jaclyn and Andy in Ambassador Park in Santa Barbara, California.

2.  Well-trained dogs can make great ring bearers.

German Shepherd Ember serves as ringbearer in Katie and James' wedding ceremony at a private home in Solana Beach, California.

3.  Your dog might make a great addition to the receiving line.  Who doesn't love a good puppy handshake?

4.  If your dog is small enough, you might be able to carry them in lieu of a bouquet.

5.  Maybe your dog is extra friendly with children and so he'll/she'll be lots of fun for the wee ones to play with.

However you choose to include your pets in your wedding, remember to make it as easy for them as possible.  One last tip: we recommend that you give your dog a long walk or a run before the wedding so that they'll be calm and ready to be compliant during the ceremony.

Cute pug Momo gets a kiss from her mommy bride Thea during Thea and Marc's wedding at a private home in Altadena, California.