Barking Down the Aisle?

What happens when the bride really, REALLY wants to have her dog(s) included in the day’s events?

We know that all those pictures on Pinterest of the brides with their dog on their wedding day are absolutely beautiful. We particularly like the ones that show the dogs as ring bearers (some even with a ring pillow on their collar!) or flower dogs with a wreath of flowers around their collar. You’d never even think that those adorable four-legged balls of fur would ever, EVER, do anything to mess up your wedding day. Right? They just love you and your fiancé so much that they’d never EVER embarrass you!

Well…not always. In your dreams your dog will walk perfectly down the aisle and go right to you and sit where he/she’s supposed to be. Or your dog is brought in with one of your attendants, walks perfectly down the aisle, and sits/stands right where he/she’s supposed to be through the whole ceremony. That’s the way it’s supposed to go. Right?

Are you really seriously thinking that? Are we talking a 5 pound Yorkie or an 80 pound Golden Retriever? Or something in between?

Before we continue, let me say this. I love pets. We currently have two dogs, and three cats. They’re part of our family. We’ve had cats and dogs for as long as I can remember. And you know your family is supposed to be part of your wedding day. Right?

Here’s how you imagine it. It’s almost ceremony time. You’ve already had the pre-requisite pictures taken in your beautiful wedding gown with your wonderful golden retriever looking lovingly in your face, maybe even putting his paw in your hand, licking your face, or even posing beside your very fragile bouquet. Then you and your faithful friend go out, and he walks down the aisle (wearing his best wedding bow tie) with one of your bridesmaids and takes his place beside your mom on the front row so he can watch everything. After the ceremony he’s there for more pictures, and you and your groom have some great shots with the dog looking lovingly at both of you. Then there’s the picture where he’s balancing the rings on his nose….

You get the picture, right? That’s in the perfect world.

Who really lives in that perfect world? Who has a dog that’s trained that well to behave like that? Without being on a lot of doggie tranquilizers, that is! And who would want to do that? No matter how well trained your pet is, there are just so many things that can go, well, wrong.

Let’s imagine how it would really go. You’re getting dressed on your wedding day. Just a few hours to go. Your hair and makeup are perfect. Your dress is gorgeous, and fits perfectly. In comes your dog, who sees you and promptly wants to jump on you, because, well, he’s a dog, and he’s excited! Even on a leash, he’s still going to be excited and jumping! And unless you have a little tiny dog, can you imagine what would happen next? And how you’d fix the dress so no one can tell? He or she may be cute and adorable, but at that particular moment, CUTE is not in your vocabulary!

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Or let’s say you just want the dog to walk down the aisle and carry something (and please NOT the real rings!). Tied to his collar, of course, because I don’t know any dog that’s going to cooperate enough to carry something in his mouth the whole time without ruining it! Or dropping it along the way. You sure don’t want one of the groomsmen or bridesmaids to be your dog handler, because they’re going to have enough to do, and they certainly won’t want to risk getting their clothes messed up either! (Well maybe a little dog might be more cooperative, but that’s still questionable!) And there certainlly isn’t any guarantee that your flower girl or ring bearer is going to be successful!

Maybe hire a professional dog handler to do it, and hope your four-legged friend cooperates? That’s all well and good, but when Rusty sees everyone sitting there, what’s the first thing he’s going to do besides try to run over to everyone and kiss them? In their good clothes? BARK! And the sound of barking to the wedding music is not exactly something you or your guests are going to enjoy! And if you were to try to have him sitting and watching the ceremony…he’d be thrilled to bark while you’re saying your vows…IF he decides to sit still! And what about when he sees something that distracts him? He BARKS, and wants to go chase after it!

And what if your dog is at an outside ceremony and there’s, well, shall we say, a call of nature???

Pictures afterwards? You have the same situation. Wanting to jump, and now, not only is your dress in danger, so are your flowers, your new husband, and your bridesmaids! And as good as your photographer may be, he/she is going to quickly lose patience trying to get the dog to cooperate…it’s hard enough sometimes with the wedding party! And that’s going to mean most likely your pictures are not going to end up looking like you’d planned!

Not to mention that most venues frown on having animals there, unless it’s an outside venue. If you’re really insisting your dog be a part of your day, ASK before you commit to your location, and be sure it’s in writing! And you certainly don’t want to have the dog attend the reception! After all…..

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So….what’s the solution here? You love your dog. You want him or her to be part of your day. But you have to remember, he’s a dog, and he doesn’t understand what’s going on! There’s so much excitement and so many new people, he’s not going to know what to do!

There are other ways to include your dog. Engagement pictures are a great way! You’re not wearing the most expensive dress you’ve ever worn, and there aren’t a zillion people around to distract and excite him/her. Just you and your fiancé and the photographer. And that’s still an interesting time, because he/she is still going to be excited, and trust me, dog cooperation is NOT going to be the rule at the photo shoot! A good photographer can get some good pictures with you both and your dog(s), but they aren’t necessarily going to be what you envisioned! Our daughter’s engagement photographer Amanda Hedgepeth was excellent, and she got some great pictures with the dogs, but they still didn’t cooperate the way Ashley expected them to! (But aren’t they cute?)

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The other suggestion, if you really, really want pictures of your dog with you while you’re wearing your gown…do it AFTER your wedding day. You’ll be more relaxed, and not quite as worried about your dress. Your hair may not be quite the same style, and you may need to use a silk bouquet instead of your real flowers, but isn’t that better than risking disaster on your wedding day? You can even make prior arrangements with the tux rental store to have your fiancé keep his tux a few days extra, or he can just wear a suit for the pictures. Either way, it’s still going to accomplish most of what you wanted! You’ll have wonderful wedding photos, and you’ll also have great pictures with your four-legged friend!

And no memories of barking down the aisle! Arf!!

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Photo Sources: 1st Row: Apollo Beach Wedding Photographer on WordPress; Christine Farah Photography on StyleMePretty; Flickr from The Cottage Cheese – 2nd Row: RuffledBlog; Pfeiffer Film Photography on GreyLikesWeddings; Lynn Brubaker Photography on EastonEvents – 3rd Row: MichelesCottage on Etsy; Milou and Olin Photography – 4th Row: Source Unknown; HeartLoveWeddings – 5th Row: – 6th Row:; Ira Lipke Studios on InspiredbyThis – 7th Row: – 8th Row: Amanda Hedgepeth Photography – 9th Row: Source Unknown

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