Wedding are going to the dogs!

We have a celebrity dog in the Poconos so it seemed like a good time to talk about dogs in weddings. Animal Planet is featuring Leo, Susie Forrester’s food stealing dog on a segment. Susie is a wonderful photographer and wonderful person, and like many of us, considers her dog to be a part of her family. I know my dogs are family.

The famous Leo - photographed by Susie Forrester

I have enjoyed working with couples who wanted to have their dogs be a part of their ceremony. If it’s an at-home wedding, of course you can do what you wish, but if at a venue, will they permit it? You may be pleasantly surprised to find that if you have an appropriate plan for your pet, many will agree. Most churches, however, will not. After clearing that obstacle, here are some hints on how to proceed.

Great dog photo by Lisa Rhinehardt

The Job: Whether or not your dog has a task, just coming down the aisle is what it’s all about! The most popular role for your dog is ring-bearer. But there’s more to it than simply tying the rings or a ring pillow to the dog’s collar. And, by the way, do I need to remind you not to use the real rings? This is a ceremonial role, a symbolic action. A dog can also be in the role of flower girl, or shall we say ‘flower dog?’ There is even a product that a dog can pull, attached by harness, which distributes petals on the floor behind her, much like a seed spreader on a lawn. Sounds crazy, but not to us dog lovers!  Or simply have a special collar, leash, or a floral arrangement for your dog’s neck to add that special touch

The Picture: For the all important photo shoot, arrange for photos with your pup before she has to depart the festivities. This is one of the highlights of having your dog in your wedding, the photos. Speak with your photographer, but it’s probably best to do the pictures before the ceremony.

Dogs and weddings go great together. Photo by Laura Billingham

The Handler: Be sure someone is specifically in charge of bringing your pup to and from the ceremony and/or party. And you will want someone to walk the dog down the aisle, although sometimes the bride or groom wants to do that. Just remember, the dog will steal the show, so you may want to get him down the aisle and out of the picture before the bride’s entrance.

The Partner: Your dog can be partnered with a young person, which makes a great combination, but it really can be anyone who has a good relationship with you and your pet. A rehearsal will really help with this. Let the dog get to know the new surroundings, so she’ll perform better, and it will also give you a chance to find if there are any unforeseen hazards for your pet, such as toxic plants, or any kind of distraction or obstacle.

The Objections: Please check with guests, especially your wedding party, to be sure no one is allergic or has strong objections. You don’t want that coming up unexpectedly on the day of the wedding.

The Alternative: If you can’t actually have your dog attend or participate in your wedding, you can certainly recognize your animal companions in many ways. You can write about them in your wedding program, you can use their photos as part of your reception. A couple I worked with had photos of their dogs printed and used as table markers. And most importantly, you can do an engagement photo shoot with them.

If your pets are both well behaved and too important to be excluded, and everything falls into place, you may be able to include them in your wedding. It may sound like a strange idea to some people – but those people just aren’t dog people, are they?


Thank you Laura Billingham, Lisa Rhinehart and Susie Forrester for the great photos!


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