Our dog is a huge part of our life. He is like our first child and we are a little family unit. So we really wanted him to be involved in our wedding day.
We were lucky enough to be able to include him in our day in some special ways, but it doesn’t always work for everyone.
Does the venue allow dogs?
Wedding venues and churches often have policies about whether dogs are allowed. We decided to look for our venue regardless of whether dogs were welcome. There are limited wedding venues within a reasonable drive of our church, so we couldn’t afford to limit our venue options on this basis. We would let fate step in!
Our search for the perfect venue lead us to the beautiful boutique hotel in Berkshire, Sanctum on the Green. It was exactly what we were looking for, it had a relaxed but glamorous feel, enough rooms that our bridal party could stay and we would have exclusive hire. Best of all, dogs were welcome!
We were unlikely to have sacrificed our perfect wedding venue to have Teddy, but it did help to solidify that Sanctum on the Green was the right venue for us.
It is important to consider this at an early stage of wedding planning. Choosing your venue is often one of the first decisions you will make and expensive deposits make it something you will be highly unlikely to change further down the line.
If having your dog at your wedding is important to you, keep in mind that many large chains of hotels are likely to have a policy against dogs. Whereas independent or privately owned venues may be more flexible.
Will they be well behaved?
Every dog is different and you have to carefully consider whether it is appropriate to include your dog in your big day. Are they well behaved and trained? Do they deal well with noise and crowds?
Our little Maltese Terrier, Teddy, is mischievous, but is generally well behaved. He doesn’t cross roads without a command and we can walk him off the lead. However he does bark when he gets uncomfortable or wants to play. So we had to think carefully about what role he would play in our wedding.
We wanted Ted to walk down the aisle with our little ring bearer, a 7 year old he has known his whole life, but we wanted to rehearse it first before solidifying our plans. After the rehearsal we were happy that it should work.
On the day it went well. We had lots of treats for Teddy and a nominated guest to look after him before the service started. My husband ensured that he was walked on the morning of the wedding and we took him to both the church and reception venue a number of times beforehand, so he was already accustomed to the location.
He was sat with my mum during the service, although you can hear him whining in the video! He wanted to be with us and after our vows he came to the front and was with us for prayers. It was a really special moment which was captured beautifully by our photographer Alexis Jaworski.
During our cocktail hour he pottered around the venue, where everyone was relaxing by the pool. We even attached a Go Pro to his back and have some brilliant footage of him trotting around our venue. It captured some conversations we would have missed and we saw our first dance from his point of view. We would definitely recommend it.
If we were concerned about Ted being overwhelmed by the crowd or being naughty, we wouldn’t have involved him in the day. When I was growing up we had a beautiful spaniel, Harvey, but we wouldn’t have involved him in such a big day. He was a lovely dog but would run away at the first sight of an open door and would be straight in the pool, it would have been chaos!
It is a decision based on your dog and their personality. You have to think carefully as to whether their presence will add to your day in a positive way or create added stress and worry for you.
Grooming and accessories
If you are able to include your pet in your day it is important to ensure they are looking their very best! They are likely to be photographed and filmed throughout the day. We bought Ted a little bow tie to wear on the day. Other options are to have matching flowers as a garlandor corsage.
It is most important to check that any accessory for your pet is comfortable and safe. Put any accessories on your pets a few times before the day and check the flowers are not toxic to dogs.
Teddy had more hair appointments in the run up to the wedding than I did! He was groomed about 10 days before the wedding, at the salon’s suggestion, so the cut could “soften” before the day! The day before the wedding he went back to the groomers for a wash and blow-dry. He looked and smelt great!
There in spirit
If you are unable to have your dog there on your wedding day there are many other ways to include them in your day. They could be part of your save the dates or wedding invites.
They can be part of your engagement photos or included in your cake topper or pictured on your table numbers What about having some treats for guests to take home for their own pets?
Involving Ted in our big day was really special and gave us some great memories. Although in hindsight we should have made a formal plan for the evening part of the reception, either nominating a guest to look after Teddy or employing a formal dog sitter such as Groom in Tails. He was a bit overwhelmed when the DJ started and panicked when he was put in one of the hotel rooms alone. My mum ended up sitting outside with him and other guests most of the evening. We did not realise this until a few weeks later, but it meant my mum missed a large portion of the evening reception and dancing.