Must Love Dogs: Tips for a Dog Friendly Wedding

As many of you know from seeing my posts on Instagram, Chris and I included Boots and Ranger in our wedding ceremony. And how could we not?! They’ve been such a huge part of our lives as individuals and as a couple; they’re family!

Including your pup on your wedding day is obviously a very personal decision- you know your dog best, so consider how they’ll react to the amount of guests you plan on inviting and the nature of the venue. This was a balancing act for us- both Ranger and Boots have their own special needs, so we included them in ways we knew would work for them. Here are some of the things that I found important as we planned our day with our pups in mind!

1. Know your venue!! If having your dogs in your wedding is a priority, don’t even entertain the idea of a venue who’s less than thrilled with it. Having the dogs in the wedding was hugely important for us, so it was the very first thing I asked when I reached out to venues. If they said no, I didn’t read anything else they had to say, because I didn’t want us to fall in love with a place who wouldn’t happily accommodate our babies. Our venue, Nature Pointe, was lovely, and our venue coordinator, Courtney, even let us bring the dogs out to practice several weeks before the wedding! It made all the difference. Boots did have an episode of separation anxiety screaming when he walked away from me with my triplet sister/Maid of Honor to walk down the aisle, but it all ended up okay and everyone who knew him chuckled. I attribute that to the time we spent practicing!

2. Choose your vendors wisely. As I said above, our venue coordinator was not only understanding, but excited about helping us to include Boots and Ranger in our special day! As we reached out to other vendors, I always mentioned right away that our dogs would be a part of the getting ready process and the ceremony. Why? Because as absolutely foreign as it is to me, some people are afraid of dogs, especially big dogs like Ranger. Some people have far worse dog allergies than I do. Some people just… don’t like being around them (which I will never understand, but there’s no accounting for taste I guess!) The girls and I got ready at me and Chris’ house, so the dogs were around everyone who came in. I ensured our amazing photographers, hair stylists, and makeup artists were not only accepting, but comfortable and excited about the fact that there would be dogs around all day! I would highly recommend our incredible vendors:

3. Assign a Canine Point-Person! Based on our pups’ needs and our venue’s requirements, we knew that the dogs would need to leave prior to the reception beginning. I think this is really important as it ensured that they got to relax after such a big, busy day, and that we were able to attend to our guests without worrying who was taking care of them. Our dear friend Kelsey knows the boys super well and is well acquainted with their special needs. She made sure to be on hand after the ceremony to help give the dogs breaks from family photos, and drove the dogs home to rest when the ceremony and photos were done. She made sure they got the stuffed Kong’s that were waiting for them and returned to the reception, letting us know they were safe and sound. Having a trusted person who the boys love on hand made such a big difference for Chris and my peace of mind and their comfort!

4. Keep your dogs comfortable. This is one way in which we could have done better, admittedly. Our ceremony was outdoor and it was HOT. I wish we’d thought to provide something for the boys to lay on, but thankfully they both found some shade. We made sure to have water bowls in each dressing room and actually had one behind the alter as well. We didn’t dress them up, because neither is comfortable in clothes for long periods (with the exception of Boots’ winter sweaters.) Instead, we got them bow ties that matched the groomsmen & bridesmaids! We chose not to do the traditional Air Force saber arch because we knew it would be scary for Ranger. If you want to include your dogs in your wedding, considering little details like that is important because it’s not just about what you want, it’s about whether or not they’ll be comfortable and safe.

5. Include your dogs in the details! Though our boys were luckily able to be present with us on our wedding day, we also included them in smaller details. Our wonderful officiant, Pat, told our love story, making sure to mention how special it was that the dogs were included as they’d been what brought us together. We chose to do a hand-fasting for our unity ceremony, and when we picked that, Chris joked that we should use a dog’s leash instead of a scarf! At first that sounded silly, but the more we talked about it, the better an idea it became. So we did! We also got the cutest little silhouette topper from Etsy shop Rustic WD Art – they custom made it to my specifications as much as possible. Some other great ways to include your pups might be weaving an old name tag into your bouquet, or having custom drinks done with your pets incorporated into the names.

It’s hard to tell what it is from this angle, but I always have a little bit of Boots with me- his exact paw print is tattooed on the inside of my left wrist!

All in all, I think the most important thing was that our family and friends were completely behind us including the dogs in the wedding. One of the first comments made after we got engaged was, “So will Boots be walking you down the aisle?!” If our families thought we were being silly or obsessive, they (thankfully) didn’t say so- they seemed to truly understand why it was so important to us. For that, Chris and I are truly blessed!!

New Mexico brides, please feel free to reach out if you have any questions about our vendors or anything else! I’m happy to share what worked for us through the very hectic process of wedding planning.

Yours truly,

The new Mrs.,

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