No matter the month, weddings have gone to the dogs, and weddings with puppies and pets have become quite the fashion. I’m not talking about cats or dogs getting married--although I have seen some very clever marketing campaigns built on that notion.
In fact, my friend Carol Bryant hosted the Wigglebutt Wedding June 28, 2013 between Dexter James Bryant and Zoe Elizabeth Sorensen—two Cocker Spaniels (both neutered by the way)—for what became one of the most entertaining pet fundraisers of the year. Carol got the idea to have a small backyard wedding to raise funds for Life’s Little Paws, the organization that rescued the canine bride the day she was scheduled to be euthanized. It’s grown into a huge media event!
More commonly, though, dogs and puppies actually attend and participate in their owner’s nuptials. A few years ago, a poll by a pet insurance company revealed that 42 percent of its more than 3000 policyholders involved a pet or planned to involve a pet in their wedding ceremony. Eleven percent did not include a pet in their wedding ceremony, but had been to a wedding in which pets played a part.
It makes sense. How many of us fell in love with our special fur-kid long before meeting Mr (or Ms) Right? The cat and dog have been with us through all the ups and downs of single life, career building and maybe even a traumatic break-up. We’d certainly want these important family members to share in the happiness of our big day. I suspect it makes your puppy happy, too. What a great way for your puppy to show how much he loves you!
Puppies that are shy and scared, or very young typically aren’t good candidates for crowd scenes, so participating in the actual wedding might be too stressful. But an inventive couple could involve a puppy in the engagement. For instance, I've heard of romantic fellows attaching the engagement ring to the pet's collar for proposing to the future bride.
Puppy Wedding Considerations
Well socialized and trained puppies may be taught to serve as ring bearers or flower “girls.” I’ve seen lovely wedding plans in which the fluffy small dog serves in lieu of the bride’s bouquet.
You can also find formal wedding attire for your special pets that include doggy tuxedos or flower girl outfits. Of course, puppies that need to wear such things should get some help learning to accept wearing costumes for dogs.
It’s a good idea to designate a responsible human to serve as the pet wrangler while you're walking down the aisle. That keeps your fur-babies safely on leash and out of trouble. You wouldn’t want a human toddler running amok, and neither should your pets.
Be sure that your puppy or dog is well suited to the challenge. Ask yourself if the pet likes crowds, has impeccable manners and training. Is he well socialized, and won't become scared of strangers or loud crowd noises? Will she put up with wearing a costume? Maybe a fancy collar is enough for the festivities. How will your human wedding guests react? If the mother-of-the-bride has pet allergies, you might want to forget about including Puppy in the ceremony.
“My hubby Damon Smith and I were married during Inudoshi (the year of the dog), and our dogs participated,” says Tobi-Dawne Yandt, a dog trainer, writer and canine photographer. “My Havanese named Brandibuck was my best dog, and the other dogs were in the crowd sitting with different guests and helping to give out programs and treats."
Tobi-Dawn told me that dogs are such a big part of her life, it didn't make sense to exclude them from such an important day. She even wore a dog collar instead of a garter. "That got a big laugh when the groom pulled it off and tossed it to the guys," she said.
Include special taste treats for your furry guests. Wedding cake (unless it’s made to be pet friendly) could cause unpleasant gastric eruptions that disrupt the party. And if you plan to release doves instead of throwing rice, your bird dog puppy may just decide to take off after them, before the honeymoon.