Lisa from Kensington, Perth, Western Australia has asked: “I want to include my dog as part of my ceremony and reception, do you have any tips on making this happen?”
There is more to consider before including a dog as part of your wedding day celebration then simply turning up with your beloved pet and hoping that all will be well.
The first thing you should do is to find out whether your ceremony and/or reception location (be it a park, church, hall, reception venue) will allow your pet to attend.
The next thing to do is to assess your pet. Accommodating a Teacup Poodle is going to be very different then a Great Dane. And while you may think it is cute that your beloved Fido jumps up on your lap to say hello, Great-Aunt Millie may have a fit. Other people may not love your dog as much as you do. While you want your pet to be included, you will not want it to dominate proceedings.
Ask yourself if your dog’s personality is conducive to attend a wedding? A wild, unruly animal is never going to be suitable. Does your dog have any embarrassing habits that you won’t want included in your wedding video? What issues is your dog likely to create? Has your dog been properly socialized?
The following tips should help make the whole experience pleasurable…
- Have your pet’s health assessed by your Vet at least three months before the wedding. Ensure that the dog’s dental health is checked and attend to any issues. Have the dog’s vaccinations brought up to date and don’t forget such issues as skin conditions, worming tablets and any necessary medication.
- Ensure your dog is on a regular diet that is appropriate to the dog’s age, weight and health status. Don’t change your dog’s diets before the wedding day. Do not allow your well-meaning guests to give your dog ‘treats’ at the wedding, as you will not want to deal with a sick dog.
- Attend to your dog’s grooming well before the big day. Regular baths with a suitable dog shampoo is recommended. Ensure your dog’s nails are clipped so that if it does jump up on someone it will not tear stockings or delicate fabrics.
- Take your dog to obedience classes in the lead up to the wedding day. Address any behavior issues such as digging, begging, barking, jumping on people, or running away. Be especially aware of how your dog reacts to children. You will want to be able to predict your pet’s behavior and know that you can rely on the dog’s good judgment. Many local councils throughout Australia host free dog behavior classes.
- Leading up to the wedding day you should rehearse the day’s procedures by traveling with your dog to the wedding location. The more you can do this the better things will go on the day. Familiarize your pet with the surroundings, parking areas, and venue. Provide your dog with a suitable area where it can relieve itself in private. If the dog is to be part of the actual wedding party then include it in all formal rehearsals. In this way the sights and smells of the location and people involved will be familiar.
- Have a designated ‘quiet’ area for your dog at the venue. This could be a small room or even a dog pen. Have at the ready your dog’s favorite bedding and toys, as well as a constant supply of fresh water.
- Make sure you allocate someone who is officially responsible for your pet. Preferably a non-drinker. Make sure clear arrangements have been made as to who is bringing the dog to the event, how long the dog will stay at the venue and when the dog will be returned home. Ensure that a dog car restraint is made available.
- Many couples choose to have fireworks at their reception. Fireworks generally terrify dogs, so it may be worth organizing that your dog has returned home before the fireworks are released. Loud music and dancing may also scare your dog.
- Don’t forget to ask your photographer to include your dog in lots of lovely shots. Since you have gone to all of the trouble of training your dog, looking after it’s grooming and diet, as well as including it in your special occasion, you will want lots of candid snaps featured in your wedding album.
There are the cutest dog outfits available that are wedding themed including, veils, bows and tuxedos. By ensuring that your dog is comfortably attired and well supervised your beloved pet is sure to enjoy your wedding day as much as you will.
Have a lovely weekend, Anna