Everyone has asked if Sadie and Zeppy will serve as Flower Beasts or Ring Doggers. I've advised several clients NOT to have their dogs in their wedding because, knowing their dogs, they would have been totally overwhelmed and wouldn't have a good time.
"Sadie", 8 year old Border Collie: She picked my man. How can you say no to a face like this?
As much as I keep saying to my clients that dogs and wedding's don't really belong together, I can't help but think that our two dogs really do belong since they are such a huge part of our life and that there has to be a good way to decide if your dog is an appropriate addition to your wedding. You know I love lists - so here's another one:
-Your vision: Do you imagine a big, poofy, cake topper style wedding gown, a two mile cathedral train, lots of glitz, and a black tie mandatory ceremony? Or does your vision include a relaxed event in your parents back yard/nice park? White dogs and black suits don't work out well, and the same goes for black dogs and white dresses (shedding). Fur on everyone's suits and dresses, muddy paw prints on rugs, and, let me remind you, off leash dogs love to help themselves to buffets!
-Is your dog ok with crowds? Does your dog get over-excited around specific people? Will that be manageable during your vows? Is your dog terrified of strangers?
- Is your dog trained? Silly question, I know, but if your dog is prone to jumping, do you want even the smallest jumping dog to get their nails stuck in your dream dress? Can your dog settle or down-stay during the vows without saying "STAY!" every 2 seconds? This moment is for you and your partner, and should be savored. You definitely don't want to split your focus between one on of the happiest moments of your life, and your dogs inability to settle and be quiet for 10 minutes.
-Do funny clothes make your dog freak out. I once trained a Rodegian Ridgeback as a puppy, and later found out that she wasn't too keen on having women in poofy dresses near her. She was evidently tied up to a table at an outdoor cafe. The church across the street rang the bells and out walked a bride in a BIG ballgown dress, which this dog did not appreciate. The dog pulled the table part way across the street before the owners got to her. This is a dog that is bred to hunt lions in Africa - you don't want to piss it off, especially on your big day! Also, if your dog doesn't like people in hats, they certainly won't like you in a veil, even if "they know it's you". For all your dog knows, that veil has you by the face, and the dog might dutifully bark at it until it releases you from it's grasp.
-Who will handle your dog during the ceremony/hand-fasting/ring exchange/broom jump/glass smash, etc? Also, does that person like dogs?
-Where will the dog go after the ceremony/photos are done being taken? Do you want to be watching your dogs for the entirety of the reception, or worry if the dog got loose because Aunt Madge left the reception door open?
-Is Grandma allergic to dogs? Does anyone have a phobia of dogs? Was Uncle Timmy attacked by a dog as a kid? You should let your close family know that a dog is attending. There may be a point in the planning when you have to decide "Uncle Timmy or Fluffy."
-If your dog is terrified of men/children/old ladies and walkers, don't have your dog in your wedding where there will be lots of men, children, and grandmas walker.
-Does your facility allow dogs? Many churches and hotels do NOT allow dogs. It's best to ask first instead of arriving at the facility to find out Fido isn't allowed.
-2 words: Poop Patrol. You DEFINITELY want to make sure Sparky has done his/her business before the ceremony, since you don't want to be carrying a poop bag instead of flowers to the alter!
-Are your dogs a big part of both of your lives? It's not fair if one partner has a dog, and the other partner doesn't even like the *$&%*%# ankle biter.
Sadie is really overexcited by lots of people, which isn't a problem for us because we will likely severely limit the ceremony to only a few people (less than 8 total) in an outdoor, leashed dogs allowed, arboretum. The next day, we will be shuffling off to our reception, and the dogs will not be attending. We want people to have a fun time, and I don't want to be dog-sitting instead of talking to family I haven't seen in a year.
Zeppy will look smashing in this little number!
If your dog is a big part of your life, and that fits in with the type of ceremony/wedding you'd like to have, AND your dog is comfortable in the type of vision that you have in mind, then by all means, accessorize that beast and enjoy having Fido as part of your special day. However, if your vision is something that your dog is forced into, will be stressed out over, someone will have to babysit, and the overall feel of the wedding isn't dog appropriate, then for the love of dog, don't bring your four-legged friend. Instead, you can honor your pooch with a centerpiece photo, or in the program.
Do you still need help deciding? Imagine the worst possible thing your dog can do or is likely to do during your big day. Do you think you'd laugh, or be mortified? If you think you'd laugh, bring the dog. If you'd be worried, mortified, annoyed, or bothered - or other people will be mortified, annoyed, worried or bothered, leave your dog at home.
Trust me, everyone will be happier that a poorly behaved, or terrified dog isn't attending the events, especially Uncle Timmy.