How to Include your Dog in your Wedding!

Your Fur Baby is a big part of your life and it’s only natural that you might want to include them in their Pawrent’s wedding day! But what exactly would that look like and how can you ensure it is an enjoyable day for you, your dog and everyone else?

There are cute ways to represent your dog at the wedding a well as logistics and things to consider for having them physically attend.


START WITH REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

I don’t want to “Dull your Sparkle” but you do need to seriously consider the reality of including your Fur Baby before you ahead and commit to it or plan work arounds for potential challenges. Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, temperaments and personalities. You may dream of having your dog at your wedding in a starring role but before you get too far into it, carefully think about what your dog can comfortably handle and what will be overwhelm for them.


The combination of a strange environment perhaps with native wildlife to distract, chase or eat, lots of people (strangers), competing scents, pretty decorations, loud noises and attention associated with a wedding (music, chatter, laughing, pats and tummy rubs and even well intentioned sneak treats) can be a total sensory overload for some dogs and a potential health risk. So honestly consider your Fur Baby’s personality and decide what parts of the wedding would be suitable for your beloved Fur Baby to be part of and which are the most significant for you without putting them under stress or discomfort. You also need to be mindful that some of your guest may have allergies and need to be informed if you are having your Fur Baby there.


SELECT A PET FRIENDLY VENUE

Check if the venue will allow you dog inside as well as outside and if so where and for how long? Are there any no go areas for your pet?


PHOTOS

Fur Babies may steal some of the limelight and you need to think about how comfortable they are interacting with other people. If they are highly social and love everyone - they can be part of the receiving line and enjoy all the extra attention, but if they are more of a Mummy and Daddy only Fur Baby, then maybe they will just be with you in the getting ready shots, snuggled and comforted by you to help settle any potential anxiety.



THE CALL OF THE WILD

Consider if your dog is more vocal and likely to interrupt critical moments such as exchanging your vows at the ceremony or speeches at the reception. They may also decide to “sing along” when the music starts by howling or whining.


NATURAL ENERGY LEVELS & OBEDIENCE

Is your dog naturally a raging ball or energy or a chilled couch potatoe? Are they usually on a lead or obedient enough to be off lead and under control? How will this impact their planned involvement in your wedding? Depending on their nature you may have them sit with the rings beside the groom or at the signing table or you may just go for walk together after the ceremony and interact with them for action photos.

WET WEATHER

Most venues will have a plan B for wet weather, but just remember that muddy wet pawprints can be a bit of a nightmare on a white dress! Speaking of clothes remember to pack a lint roller to collect any stray dog hair (we call it Bulldog Glitter) that may end up on those expensive dresses or suits from your Fur Baby!


PRE-WEDDING

Don't worry if after considering all the factors you decide that it wont be in your or your Fur Baby’s best interest for them to actually attend on your wedding day. Engagement photos can intimately capture the moments spent as a little Fur family before the wedding in a much a less intimidating setting for your dog. These gorgeous images can then be used for all sorts of bespoke inclusions for your wedding celebrations that I will explain later. At West Coast Weddingswe include a complimentary engagement shoot for all our clients.


If you decide that your Fur Baby is up to the wedding adventure, make sure that you let your guests know ahead of time (eg on your invitations) to ensure people with allergies can be prepared and that you can outline how you would like your guests to interact (eg not to feed them) with your Fur Baby - especially important if your dog is not good with children or has special dietary needs (eg our Cebar has pancreatisis and could die if fed any kind of food containing fats).



SIDEKICK OR STAR?

After you've weighed up ALL the pros and cons, truthfully assessed your Fur Baby’s personality and temperament and decided they should attend your wedding - will it be in a sidekick or staring role?


WAYS TO INCLUDE YOUR DOG IN YOUR CEREMONY?

Dog of Honour, Best Dog, Flower Dog and Ring Bearer, Bride’s Escort …are all starring roles that your beloved FUR Baby can fill with the assistance of a bridal party member or a dog sitter. You may need a lead for some of them depending on your dogs obedience level (given the scale of distractions even for an obedient dog I would still suggest you use a lead). You can co-ordinate your Fur Baby with accessories or costumes to look like part of the bridal party or decorate their collar and lead with florals the match the bouquet which can look stunning. If they are not really the “dress up” kind of dog you could just get them a “bling” collar or lead instead. Once down the aisle what will your dog do? You can decide if your dog should stay at the alter/arbour as part of the bridal party, sit down in the front row with a trusted family member or be handed over to a “dog sitter” that is responsible for them who might even take them away for some quite time before your photographs.


Flower Dog - your Fur Baby can carry the basket for the flower girl to spread the rose petals as she walks down the Aisle.


Ring Bearer - Who better to fetch the rings for you than your Fur Baby. It can be a little risky using the real ones so you may want to use replicas and have the groom swap them out for the real ones safely stored in his pocket. It’s totally up to you!


Front Row Seats - If you feel your Fur Baby better suited to a more sidekick role, they can have a front row seat and you can mention them in the ceremony.



PLAN FOR SUCCESS

Taking your Fur Baby to the venue ahead of time, and being part of the rehearsal is vital to having them be comfortable and less stressed on the day and help you see any potential triggers or challenges on the day. If the visit is in a different season to the wedding be careful that the season of the wedding will not be a problem for your dog (eg Frenchies in Summer overheat very quickly and can die, some dogs are allergic to bees, pollen or flowers so Spring might not be great for them etc)


It’s essential during the rehearsal that you mimic the actual day for your Fur Baby as best you can ie dress them in what they will be wearing (eg clothes or accessories such as a flower headpiece to blend with the bridal party, or a special coat if it’s a winter wedding etc), have them practice their part over and over giving lots of praise and reassurance so they get used to the strange feel and smells of the clothing or accessories and the routine of where they need to walk or be.

HIRING A DOG SITTER/WRANGLER:

This can be an excellent investment - they take responsibility for your Fur Baby for the day allowing the bridal party and guests to enjoy the celebrations knowing their Fur Baby is getting special attention and care:

  • transporting your pet to/from the getting ready address, ceremony, reception venue and any additional photoshoot locations

  • Dressing your Fur Baby in the wedding attire you want for the day.

  • Working with the photographer/videographer for your Fur Baby’s starring roles

  • Working with the celebrant for their appearance and involvement in the ceremony

  • Supervision and care for your pet throughout the entire day

  • Walk, feed, water and give regular toilet breaks to your pet

  • Return your pet to your home/pet friendly accommodation or boarding kennel (if you are going straight to honeymoon) and ensure they are settled in.

If you are wondering where to start to find a great local Fur Kid Wrangler try https://petweddingservices.co/perth/


QUALIFIED PET PHOTOGRAPHY

Just as important as having your Fur Baby involved in your wedding is making sure that the wedding photographer you choose can also capture them at their very best.


It’s true that Wedding Photography and Pet Photography are two very different photographic genres, and require specific training and unique skillsets - but at West Coast Weddings I not only am trained and qualified in Wedding Photography but I am also specifically trained and qualified in Pet Photography with an arsenal of tricks up my sleeve to get their attention turning those good shots into great! West Coast Woofers . So by choosing West Coast Weddings you will be getting the VERY BEST coverage possible by someone who knows not only how to capture you at your best on your wedding day, but your Fur Baby as well!


Our unique story telling approach to our Wedding coverage means including your Fur Baby is part of your unique love story that needs to be told, creatively and beautifully.



A DOZEN IDEAS TO INCLUDE YOUR FUR BABY

  1. Have them attend the wedding and have a direct role in the celebrations (eg walk down the Aisle, carry the rings, line up with the bridal party, sit at the signing table etc)

  2. Have a “dog sitter” bring them to the wedding just for certain parts such as photos and then they can be safely back home or at other pet friendly accommodation being looked after and you can relax and enjoy your wedding.

  3. If you decide it might be best not to have them actually attend you could reserve a seat for them up the front with a framed photo of your gorgeous Fur Baby, perhaps mention them in the ceremony or read a poem that is relevant about them (see example by Taylor Mali below).

  4. You might get a customised ring cushion with their image on it made to use for the ceremony.

  5. Have a life-sized cardboard cut-out made of them and they can then be with you throughout the day - maybe even appear in a few photos with you or the photo booth with your guests!

  6. Included them in your stationary - have an engagement shoot (we include this for our couple complimentary) and include your Fur Baby you can then use these images for all sorts of things - Save the Date, Invitations, Menus, Napkins, Signage or “Doggie Bags” for cake or bonbonierie.

  7. Decorate the venue with photos (from your engagement shoot) showing you with your dog and you could even dress them up in a little outfit - Whisky my Frenchie has a top hat,Tux with a bow tie - super cute!

  8. Incorporate them in your wedding cake as an animal topper, an icing decoration on the cake somewhere or even in have the cake made in the shape of your Fur Baby (be warned it will probably be psychologically hard for your to cut the cake if you do this!)

  9. Make a donation in their honour to an animal charity such as SAFE, The Shenton Park Dogs Home or RSPCA or have envelopes on tables for guest to contribute.

  10. Let your imagination run free with pet themed decor - centre pieces, candles, glitter box (instead of litter box), pet table names instead of numbers, photo booth props etc.

  11. Wear them! Have a piece of jewellery or an accessory such as cufflinks, a charm on your bouquet made with a photo or paw print from your special Fur Baby and wear it on your wedding day.

  12. Change the names of the food on your menus or your drinks list to match your Fur Baby(ies) or create a signature drink with their name, breed and personality…eg Our Dogs Cebar (Obedient English Cocker Spaniel) and Whisky (Comical French Bulldog) could be …. The Cebar - for the distinguished English Gentleman, Martini - Shake not Stirred! (recipe below) Or The Whisky - for the mad Frenchman - French 100 (recipe below)


The Cebar Cocktail - Gin Martini

This gin martini recipe is simple, sophisticated and delicious.

Equipment

  • A cocktail shaker

  • A bar spoon (or teaspoon)

  • A strainer

  • Cocktail glass

Ingredients

  • 1 part vermouth

  • 5 part Misty Isle (Isle of Skye) or Bontanist (Australia) gin

  • Ice (for mixing)

  • To garnish: Green olive or orange rind

  • (Tonic water to dilute if it is too strong for you)

Method

  1. Chill your cocktail glass (the easiest way is to fill it with ice)

  2. Add plenty of ice and the vermouth to your shaker and shake to make sure the ice is coated with vermouth, then use your strainer to pour away the excess

  3. Add the Gin to the shaker and shake the mixture for about 30 seconds to chill and dilute

  4. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass and garnish with either a twist of orange peel or some green olives. If you’re using olives, try to use ones that aren’t oily or full of brine as they will make the cocktail “dirty”.

  5. If the cocktail is too strong you can always add some tonic water.


The Whisky Cocktail - French I00

Equipment

  • A cocktail shaker

  • A bar spoon (or teaspoon)

  • A strainer

  • Champagne Flue

Ingredients

  • 30mL Scottish Whisky (recommend Talisker)

  • 15mL orange juice

  • 15mL sugar syrup

  • 100mL French Champagne (recommend Moet Chandon)

  • Orange twist, to garnish

  • Ice

Method

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.

  2. Add whisky, orange juice and sugar syrup and shake well.

  3. Strain into a chilled Champagne flute.

  4. Top with Champagne and garnish with an orange twist.

How Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog by Taylor Mali

First of all, it’s a big responsibility,

especially in a city like New York.*

So think long and hard before deciding on love.

On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security:

when you’re walking down the street late at night

and you have a leash on love

ain’t no one going to mess with you.

Because crooks and muggers think love is unpredictable.

Who knows what love could do in its own defense?

On cold winter nights, love is warm.

It lies between you and lives and breathes

and makes funny noises.

Love wakes you up all hours of the night with its needs.

It needs to be fed so it will grow and stay healthy.

Love doesn’t like being left alone for long.

But come home and love is always happy to see you.

It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life,

but you can never be mad at love for long.

Is love good all the time? No! No!

Love can be bad. Bad, love, bad! Very bad love.

Love makes messes.

Love leaves you little surprises here and there.

Love needs lots of cleaning up after.

Sometimes you just want to get love fixed.

Sometimes you want to roll up a piece of newspaper

and swat love on the nose,

not so much to cause pain,

just to let love know “Don’t you ever do that again!"

Sometimes love just wants to go out for a nice long walk.

Because love loves exercise it will run you around the block

and leave you panting, breathless.

Pull you in different directions at once, or wind itself around and around you until you’re all wound up and you cannot move.

But love makes you meet people wherever you go.

People who have nothing in common but love

stop and talk to each other on the street.

Throw things away and love will bring them back,

again, and again, and again.

But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.

And in return, love loves you and never stops.

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