Dogs at Weddings
They've been by your side through thick and thin. You adventure together during the day, and cuddle together night. Their love for you is strong and unwavering, and they will be next to you on the biggest day of your life. Not your fiancee ... your dog.
It's becoming increasingly popular to have your dog at your wedding, and this trend is set to grow yet again in 2019. I've had the honor of capturing over 30 weddings where dogs have played an important role in the big day, and it's a joy to photograph :) Dogs can be a part of the family, so why shouldn't they be there to join in with the celebrations and get in on the wedding photography action.
Here are a few things to consider before inviting your dog to your wedding day...
When deciding whether you want to include your fur baby, the first thing to do is check with the venue. There are a whole range dog friendly wedding venues throughout Devon and Cornwall, and the number seems to be rising - along with the popularity of including your pooch.
The next thing to consider is your dog's personality! If they're wild at heart then maybe consider asking a friend or family member to aid with a drop-in visit during the photographs, rather than them being present for the whole ceremony. The last thing you want is them barking, jumping up at your dress, and running around like a crazy beast during the vows.
If they're good on a lead, and they're not too vocal in exciting situations then consider having your dog attend the ceremony as a guest. No-doubt you'll have plenty of volunteers to hold the lead and make sure that they're well looked after.
If they're very well behaved and calm in nature, then you could consider letting them play a larger part in the day. So far I've photographed six weddings with dogs acting as ring bearers, and so far so good .... they've all been very well behaved.
In all of the above scenarios do try and visit the venue with your dog(s) in advance so that they can get used to the layout and smells. And a big walk on the morning of the wedding is highly recommended!
If your accommodation isn't on site, and you're worried about your friends/family members missing out whilst they oversee your dog's 'guest of honor' drop in, then there are some fantastic wedding-day dog services which can help. A Pad 4 Paws, based in Plymouth, offer a comprehensive dog care wedding service for around £150. They will look after your dog for the day, give them a wash & groom, bring them to the wedding at a time of your choice, then take them back to their home for the night. Knowing that your pooch is safe and being looked after can take a real weight of your mind. This is quite often the only option for a lot of people, as all of your usual go-to 'dog sitters' will probably be stood beside you sipping champagne.
Wedding day dog tips:
1. If your venue won't allow dogs at the ceremony, ask if they're okay with a quick drop-in visit to a pre-arranged outside area for photographs. A smile, some assurances, and a big ‘pretty please’ often works wonders.
2. Warn your guests. Some people may be dog-phobic or have allergies, so its always safer to pop a note in with your invite info.
3. Bring your dog with you when you visit the venue ahead of the big day. They can acclimatise and will be calmer on the wedding day.
4. Make sure that there are no poisonous flowers or plants being used in your decorations which could be harmful for your dog - particularly any collar additions.
5. You'll be so caught up in the whirlwind of wedding merriment that you almost certainly won't have time to seek out a dog water bowl and top it up. Task someone with this job in advance of the big day.
6. If your dog responds well to treats, come armed with a little bag of goodies. These may well be useful for the designated dog carer, and will almost certainly come in handy during the photographs.
7. If you entrust the care of your pooch to someone during your ceremony make sure that they are comfortable with commanding a dog. Choose the guest according to how well your dog knows them, and very importantly - how well the guest can control your dog.
8. If it’s a hot day make sure your dog isn't out in the sunshine for too long. Keep them in a shaded area, and delegate to ensure that they're kept well hydrated.
9. A wedding day can be incredibly exciting for a dog. There are so many people, and so many smells! Brief the carer to look out for signs of when they've had enough, and make sure that there's a nice quiet space they can retire to for some peace and quiet.
10. If your dog is well-known for jumping up then invest in some dog classes & training before hand. Your guests are likely to be in their best clothes, so won't appreciate muddy claws tearing away at their glad rags.
11. Wedding attire for dogs can look cute, but don't put them in it for the first time on the day of the wedding. Make sure that they're used to it well in advance of the big day. It may be best to dress them up just before the photographs. I've never seen dog wedding attire that's stayed looking fresh for more than an hour! Simple items such as dog bow ties usually work best.
If they're really bothered then it's best to forgo the idea. A happy dog is always best.
12. It will be tempting to treat your dog on the big day, but try to keep things as 'normal' as possible. Don't give them any food they haven’t tried before, or wash them in a new shampoo, as it's sod's law that they'll have a bad reaction.
13. It's not something you usually have to talk about when discussing wedding day plans .... but don't forget the poo bags.
14. If you've already booked your venue, and there's a strict 'no dogs' policy, consider other ways of involving your furry friend. There are lots of elements of a big day that can be made personal e.g. photographs on table names. If you're keen to get your dog in on the photo action then consider a pre-wedding engagement shoot in the run up to the big day.
It's wonderful when your canine friends can play a part in your big day, but have a think about whether it's going to be worth it. If it's going to be stressful at all then maybe leave them at home, but give them an extra big cuddle when you return again as newlyweds. The good thing is that they won't have a clue what's going on, so if their invite gets 'lost in the post' there will be zero offence taken.