Many of our wedding couples have dogs and so they ponder whether on wedding day – should they include their dog or not. Often for these couples, their dog/s are very important in their lives. Sometimes, the dog is even “already important” to both bride and groom. There are many factors that go into this decision. Let me go over many of them here so you can be informed better so you know how best to proceed.
First, there are some basic logistics. How many dogs do you have or want to consider bringing to your wedding? One dog in itself will be challenging to bring, but if you have more than one, it becomes increasingly more challenging to bring and deal with.
If you did not ask upfront prior to booking, you need to find out what the pet policy is for the venue that you have chosen. Many venues will not allow any pets to their venue. There are plenty of reasons for this stance. Having a dog anywhere around food prep likely violates health and safety standards. Having a dog or a cat in the prepping houses will mean left-over hair in those houses that not only need to be cleaned but with extra cleaning as often the next bride using the facility may be allergic to pet hair. It can be a meticulous process to thoroughly clean a facility for the pet hair. Beyond the hair, many cats get nervous in a new place with all of the commotion and if they pee outside their box, it is extremely difficult to eliminate those smells for several weeks to come. Likewise, many dogs get nervous in a new place with all of the commotion and they want to mark every building, every tree, every yard with a scent.
Advise number one is to start out by “knowing your pet.” Is it high maintenance? Does it get nervous in a new environment? Does it get along with all people? Is it aggressive at all? Will it handle someone else overseeing it? In our situation with having farm dogs plus goats and horses at the fenceline for visitors to greet, will your pet constantly bark at the other animals? If so, then the horses and goats will move away from that confrontation and our dogs will be on alert. Part of the fun of the farm is for guests to greet the animals so a rowdy dog will only disrupt that process.
Time-wise, wedding day is packed with a very busy timeline. You want to enjoy the day and not be distracted by a needy pet. You will want to have somebody else oversee the logistics of your dog so you don’t have to stop and take your dog for a walk. Ideally, the dog could be near you during your prepping stage, but when the dog does need a break, someone else would take the time and the bag in order to “bag up” any poops so you do not have to do that on wedding day. Some consideration to having someone bring the dog just at wedding time so that it can either be part of the ceremony or just part of the pictures is worth considering. If you are a long-distance bride, then the logistics of “where do you take the dog after the ceremony” is a challenging one.
One slight alternative to the last paragraph is to crate your dog after the ceremony – after photos. This only works well if your dog is used to be crated and won’t bark constantly if left unattended somewhere in a crate. As you can tell, having your dog on-site on wedding just gets complicated with many various factors and issues that need oversight. You just have to decide if it is really worth the few minutes of joy to have your dog in some of the photos or in attending the ceremony.
In our years of experience, about half of the times that ta bride has brought a pet, it has all worked out. When I say “worked out” it could’ve been from any of the above solutions whether part day, all day, or only moments. The other half of our brides, I am confident that if they had a “do-over” that they would’ve thought smarter and would’ve avoided having their dog at the wedding. When it did go wrong, there was little remedy that to put up with the wrong decision. Some dogs barked non-stop. Unfamiliar smells, animals in the pastures, music and people and food. Some dogs were so nervous that they were constantly peeing on every tree and every bush and even some had diarrhea from the nervousness – yikes that was bad. Now, hopefully, you have more insight and perspective as you evaluate what the best move is for you and your wedding.