A Dog in the Wedding Party

Woman in bridesmaid's dress walking with dog in flower-accent basket

Your wedding date is set, the venue is booked, and the invitations have been sent. But there is something left to do, and doggone you’ll see it done. It’s time to delegate some duties to your oh-so special pet. That’s right! There’s a dog in the wedding party. We’re here to help with tips and tricks for getting your hound-of-honor successfully down the aisle.


What Role Should Pup Play in the Wedding Party?

Can your dog handle the heat of the spotlight? The truth is that some pups simply aren’t prepared to take center stage. Different temperaments demand different expectations, so take an honest look at the situation. Is your dog intimidated by large crowds or scared of strangers? Can they be expected to behave during a sit-down dinner or reception? Are they an experienced therapy dog, comfortable in a wide variety of situations? Consider such factors when determining your pup’s role in the proceedings. Perhaps your dog is a social pro who would love nothing more than to walk you down the aisle, or maybe they are better suited to a sweet seat on the sidelines. For the best outcome, plan a level of participation that suits Fido’s furry comfort level.

Want a little more canine insight? Take our WHAT KIND OF DOG PERSON ARE YOU? quiz.

Dog-Friendly Folks & Locations

Will you be exchanging vows against an idyllic, farmland backdrop? Invite your dog! Are you walking down the aisle in a bohemian backyard setting? Prepare the pooch! Are you swapping rings at a posh hotel in the center of the city? Hold off on inviting that hound. While some venues will of course have hard and fast rules regarding animal attendees, it’s up to you to decide (location allowing) whether the setting is right for a canine appearance. Remember, your faithful friend will need room enough to walk, a place for potty breaks and possibly a mealtime. When you visit venues, keep these requirements in mind.

Since guest lists can run the gamut from cousins to coworkers, it’s a good idea to keep the perspective that not every wedding attendee will be a dog lover. So, getting the word out about your dog’s attendance may be worth considering. And run your pup’s involvement past the ceremony officiant and the rest of the wedding party to avoid messy misunderstandings. Prep your photographer, too, and don’t be afraid to make requests. Dogs make for delightfully memorable photo ops.

Pug puppy beside almond-filled wine glass etched with "Why Limit Happy to One Hour"

Your pooch-loving friends may find the Sniff-n-Snap handy! This little gadget affixes to your phone with a spot for a treat to draw your dog’s attention!

Primping & Priming

It’s time to get real about your pup’s get-up. Will you opt for a doggy bow tie, a too-cute tuxedo shirt or a dainty floral collar? While bridal gowns and morning jackets are great for people, it may be smart to keep your dog’s wedding ensemble simple. Even the most patient pooch may protest if their outfit becomes too elaborate. Decorative collars are stress-free solution and can be chosen to match your wedding colors or theme. Going glam? Treat Spot to a leash studded with sparkles. Do you dream of a bohemian wedding day? Bolster Fido’s collar with some artfully placed blossoms.

As the wedding date approaches, it’s time for a trip to the groomer! A bath goes a long way toward making Fido look fabulous for the big day. Not every dog loves a trip to the groomer, so schedule that scrub (and perhaps a trim) so there’s plenty of time to destress before the ceremony.

An essential part of any dog-friendly wedding is canine safety. That means taking the time to think about what your dog might eat, who they might interact with, and how they might react to their environment. Be sure to check your bouquet and centerpieces for flowers toxic to dogs. If chocolate or other non-dog-safe foods are on the menu, make a plan to make sure Fido doesn’t have access to them. Determine ahead of time if there will be other, incompatible animals present at the venue that day. The final piece of setting the scene for a crisis-free celebration is to keep the number of a nearby vet on hand and have an emergency plan ready just to be safe.

Who’s a Special Dog Sitter?

As the bride- or groom-to-be, you are unlikely to have the time to be solely in charge of your dog that day. Ask a trusted friend or family member to be the designated “doggie date.” This special guest can help oversee walking, feeding and watching your pup over the course of the wedding. Supply this special dog sitter with plenty of dog treats – and perhaps have them join the wedding party by escorting your dog down the aisle and sitting with them in a ceremonial spot-of-honor. Chances are your dog will not be inclined to stand patiently with the rest of the wedding party. Having someone to sit with will surely soothe and delight them.

Just like a rehearsal for humans, the dog in the wedding party benefits from practice. This will help reduce stimulus overload on the big day. Several times before the ceremony, suit up your pooch so they get used to the feel of their special collar, bow-tie or other costume elements. It’s also very helpful to find some pre-wedding time to let your dog explore the venue – ideally with their special dog sitter. Allow them to sniff their way from the car to the building and right down the aisle. When the time comes for the actual ceremony, they will less inclined to chew at their flair or wander off, having been there and done that.

Have Fur-Tastic Time

It’s time to celebrate. You’re marrying the human of your dreams, and your beloved furball is along for the ride! And if Fido makes a furry mistake, like walking in the wrong direction, feel free to join in the inevitable laughter. Then, reassure your pooch with a pat. Your dog isn’t perfect but that’s okay, it’s going to be a wonderful day!