Did you know that the British dog population rose by a whopping 400,000 between 2017 and 2018 meaning that over one quarter of British adults now have a canine comrade. What’s more, a shocking 15% of dog owners admitted to loving their dog MORE than their partner!
Upon reading these stats it suddenly became clear why we’ve been seeing more and more dogs at weddings lately and you know what, we LOVE it! Witnessing a happy couple’s waggy-tailed woof revelling and celebrating alongside the human guests is nothing short of glorious; however, throwing a canine-friendly wedding does require a bit of planning so we thought we’d offer some top tips for making sure your big day is more ‘dog’s-a-winner’ than ‘dog’s dinner’. With that in mind, here are a few things to consider before you charge ahead with purchasing that four-legged flower girl outfit!
Is your hound wedding ready? No matter how gorgeous you think your prized pooch will look on your wedding day, if he has even the slightest nervous disposition, this will undoubtedly become heightened in an unfamiliar and noisy environment. If this is the case, you should probably reconsider your plans as it won’t prove an enjoyable experience for you or your pooch.
Is your dream wedding venue dog-friendly? So you’re confident your dog is wedding ready, now there’s the small issue of finding a pet-friendly wedding venue. Barns, farms and marquees are all great options, but do contact all your favourite venues and clarify their pet policies before ruling any out. Some venues will allow dogs in the ceremony area, but not at the reception (or vice versa) so hiring a petsitter for the day to bring the dog along or take him home at just the right moment is a great idea.
Consider your guests and suppliers. We know it’s hard to believe, but not everybody is going to love your dog as much as you (weird huh?!) If guests/suppliers are allergic, phobic or just not that into dogs, it’s crucial you let them know well in advance of the big day (so they can stock up on antihistamines). It would also be advisable to set up a dog-free zone where guests know they won’t come into contact with your hairy guest of honour. Photographers and videographers in particular will need a heads-up as they will be the suppliers who will be working closely with you throughout the majority of the day.
Assign a petsitter. As you’re about to find out, you are probably going to have one million things whirring around your brain on your big day so the task of dealing with your pooch should be assigned to a responsible, trusted and dog-loving guest who can be in charge of your hound throughout the day.
So if you’ve weighed up the ins and outs of having your dog present on your big day and you think your dog, venue, guests and suppliers are up for it, now comes the fun part, it’s time to think about ways in which you can include your pooch in the proceedings!
Engagement: As Celebrants, we’ve heard all manner of engagement stories, some utterly romantic and others completely hilarious; but we’ve noticed a sharp rise in the number of four-legged friends getting in on the act! Imagine your canine companion running towards you carrying a box containing a big shiny engagement ring between its teeth? YES!!!
Invitations: Why not have your save-the-dates and wedding invitations sent directly from your pet? “I, Pixie the Whippet, cordially invite you to attend the wedding of my human parents…”!
Hen/Stag-do: If the days of sticky floored nightclubs are well and truly in the past and nowadays you prefer to be out and about with your furry friend, why not head off on a dog-friendly walking holiday with your girls/guys instead? The UK has some of the most spectacular scenery in the world and there’s also a huge selection of pet friendly hotels/self-catering properties where you’ll be free to eat, sleep and explore with your best human and dog friends.
On the Wedding Day…
Bow-wow bouquets: If your pooch is knee high to a grasshopper, why not drape a floral collar around his neck and carry him as an alternative to a bouquet? Note: Great Danes need not apply!
Pageboy pooches & four-legged flower girls: Go on, admit it, dressed up dogs are hilarious and super cute all at the same time so why not go all out and dress your furry friend up for the occasion and honour them with the roles of pageboy and/or flower girl. Warning: There’s a high probability of bride upstaging if you decide to go down this road, so do bear this in mind!
Hand fasting, hound style: The ancient marriage ritual of hand fasting is becoming more and more popular and recently it was great to see a bride and groom use their dog’s leads in place of the traditional tartan ribbons. So if you and your husband/wife-to-be had your own dogs prior to getting together, why not consider this as a unique and sentimental gesture for your wedding ceremony?
Ring retriever: Who doesn’t love a ring bearing dog? There’s really nothing cuter than watching a dog proudly trotting down the aisle with a little ring pouch on his collar. An important role for a such a special member of your family!
Speech[less]: Okay, so your pooch probably won’t stand up and perform a reading or make a speech about how much they love you (unless of course you’re the proud owner of Waffle the Wonder Dog); however, they could be responsible for transporting readings, poetry or prose to the speaker during the ceremony or throughout the reception.
Doggy decor: If for whatever reason your dog can’t make it to the wedding, why not have a slight doggy theme in his or her honour? Canine cake toppers, photographs of your dog on place settings/table numbers, paw-shaped confetti – the world is your oyster.
Gifts that keep on giving: If you’re a couple who have it all or you’re just incredibly generous, why not commemorate your special day by adding donations to your favourite doggy charity to your gift list?
Wedding photography with a difference: Embrace the fact that you’ve got your own personal photographer for a full day and have lots of professional portraits taken of you and your beloved pet.
The months and years of organising, planning and putting together such a kick ass wedding can leave couples in need of a relaxing holiday without the extra stress of having to plan a long-haul adventure, so why not enjoy a stress free mini-moon with your fur-baby of course!
Feature photograph by the Dog Wanderer.