By Maja Ferrell
With wedding season right around the corner and the popularity of including four-legged family members in wedding photos, many couples are considering adding their dogs (or other well-behaved pets) to the ever extending guest list. As someone who had three dogs attend their wedding, it was a great memory to have with our pets and was enjoyable for our wedding party as well. Of course there is a bit of extra planning involved if you decide to include your pets, but for many couples it can definitely be worth it and planning ahead will help prevent any wedding day mishaps.
Think about it first. Does your pet get anxious on long car rides or when they are around large groups of people? Unfortunately, it may not be the best idea to involve them. As anyone who is married or planning a wedding knows, your wedding day will be hectic enough and you do not want to add a stressed out pooch to the mix. Even small things like if your dog occasionally gets car sick should be considered and discussed. You do not want to run the risk of them becoming ill and having to delay anything to take care of that on the big day. If they are easy-going though I’m sure they would love to be included!
Check the location. Does your venue allow dogs? Even if they do, are there certain areas where they won’t be allowed? If your venue is dog-friendly but you come to find out they won’t allow your pet in the ceremony area when you’ve planned on having them walk the rings down the aisle will add unneeded last minute stress. If you only want to include them in the photos it is best to check out the area prior to the big day. Is the park dog friendly? Does your dog not prefer to be around other dogs and the park is a popular location for neighborhood dogs? Small things like this will help make sure your dog is happy and that all of the photographs you want are taken. Remember to coordinate their leash with your wedding colors if the park has leash laws!
Let everyone know. You wouldn’t want to have your dogs show up and surprise your unwitting photographer or wedding party. Letting everyone know that the pets will be in attendance will give your photographer time to plan around including them in the photos and allow your wedding party to be prepared. Let your wedding party know that you will be supplying plenty of lint rollers!
Be safe. Are the flowers at the reception or in the bouquets toxic to pets? Are you serving a dish with grapes, chocolate, or one of the many other foods that are toxic to dogs? While it is important to plan ahead and limit the risk of exposure, accidents do happen. Fortunately, the Pet Poison Helpline is available 24/7 (even on your wedding day!) and can help evaluate the exposure. Assign a designated wedding party member to keep our number and your primary care veterinarian’s number on hand in the event that any issues arise!