How to Include Your Dog in the Wedding Ceremony

Man's best friend can serve as best man, ring bearer and more

By Cynthia Myers

German shepard in wedding
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Weddings are a celebration of love and family, so if your family includes a beloved dog, why not include him in your wedding ceremony? If the bride and groom are in agreement, well-behaved canines can fill many roles in a wedding, to the delight of guests. Wedding suppliers now feature special wedding attire for dogs and even wedding toppers featuring dogs. Having your dog with you can be a relaxing presence that can help you truly enjoy your day.

  • What You Need to Know
  • Make sure your venue allows pets.
  • Be sure to have leashes, pet treats and pet waste bags on hand for the wedding day.

Step 1:

Determine whether your wedding venue allows dogs other than service animals. If they don't, will they make an exception for your wedding? Health laws often prevent establishments that serve food from allowing dogs inside the building, but these laws vary, so check this out before you decide to make your dog part of the wedding party.

Step 2:

Choose what role your dog will fill. Will man's best friend serve as best man or walk down the aisle as a bridesmaid? Consider the feelings of everyone involved. Will your best friend be hurt if she's upstaged by your dog? Dogs make cute ring bearers. Send a trained dog down the aisle with a basket in his mouth that contains the ring. Or attach the rings to his collar. If you're unsure about turning your dog loose by himself, have a young friend or relative escort him down the aisle. You might choose to carry a small dog in a basket instead of or in addition to a bridal bouquet.

Step 3:

Let the wedding party, including your officiant, know about your plans. If one of the bridesmaids is terrified of dogs or the best man is deathly allergic, you need to know now. Be prepared to change your plans if necessary.

Step 4:

Appoint a "sitter" for your dog for before and after the wedding. This person will be responsible for making sure the dog has plenty of water and goes out for bathroom breaks and exercise breaks. Plan to keep the dog on a leash and be sure to supply the sitter with pet waste disposal bags for cleaning up after your dog.

Step 5:

Practice with your dog as much as possible before the wedding. If his job is to sit quietly through the vows, run through a mock ceremony regularly. Praise her good behavior and reward her with treats. If you want her to carry a basket or walk down the aisle with the rings, run her through her paces regularly as the wedding approaches.

Step 6:

Schedule a grooming appointment for the day before the wedding. You'll want your dog to look her best for her time in the spotlight. Dress her up with a special collar, ribbons or flowers to coordinate with the rest of the party. Add a new leash. And don't leave for the church without dog treats to reward her for good behavior after the ceremony.

  • Tips & Warnings
  • Make sure your dog will wear any clothing item you select for her. Go through a trial run of her duties while in the attire.
  • Take plenty of pictures of you with your dog before the wedding, while things are still relatively calm.

About the Author

Cynthia James is a regular contributor to DexKnows.

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Planning Reminder:

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Select or write vows

Your officiant will probably offer you and your groom vows to choose from, or if you're feeling creative, personalize your vows and make them just about you and your spouse-to-be. Consult with your officiant beforehand to make sure everyone is on the same page.

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