Your wedding should absolutely include your family and your best friends!  What if your best friends are Sparky and Spotty?  How could you possibly leave them out of the festivities?  There are many ways you can honor your pets if they can’t attend but if they can, you’ll want to make them as comfortable as possible. I asked some of my great colleagues across the country for their sage advice, and here are their hints.  (And their wonderful photos! Many thanks to Kathy, from the Earle Harrison House, a gracious Antebellum mansion and event venue in Texas, for this adorable ring bearer’s pix!)

Here are the top 10 tips for making your wedding happy and healthy for both YOU and the fuzzy-faces!


1. Assign Sparky a handler; if he’s going to be the ring dog, let a ring bearer age child walk him down the aisle (and NEVER give either ONE of them the real rings, okay?  Don’t make me tell you the ugly story about the ring, Point Pleasant Beach and a metal detector…..)   Don’t count on your normally well behaved dog to walk down the aisle unattended, no matter how much dog whispering you do. Weddings, by nature, are busy places, and your dog may just be as overwhelmed as any five year old. 

2.Most pups really don’t like the cute costumes. They are uncomfortable. They’re like the canine version of that big, ugly, magenta bridesmaid’s dress.  Go for a cute sparkley collar, a jeweled leash or bows. (Thanks to Sweet I Do’s, a GREAT candy buffet artist in Arizona!)

3. Don’t forget refreshments for your ring dog!  Brandy at Sweet I Do’s recommends personalized doggie treats,  a full water bowl, and a quiet place to chill out  during the reception.                                          

4. If you want to put flowers on the dog’s collar, or have a floral wreath around his neck, make sure he’s a very mellow dog, used to wearing bandanas, etc. so that it’s nothing new to be ‘decorated’. A great tip from  Joanne at FlowersFlowers in Chicago.

5. Don’t forget to hire a dog walker/sitter to pick up Spotty’s impromptu ‘gifts’  It’s an ugly job but someone has to do it…. Thanks to Christy from Tech Ridge, doing beautiful bouquets  in Austin!

6.Advise your guests, either on your website, in the invites or by word of mouth, that your dog will be in part of the party; they may be allergic, they may be afraid, their children may need to be given a tiny lesson in dog ettiquette. (Don’t pull the ring bearer’s tail…)

7. Consider privately tipping the bartenders (that’s a whole other blogpost…), replacing the tip cups on the bar with dog bowls and giving the ‘tips’ to a great charity like Puppies Behind Bars, an innovative organization that matches prisoners with fledgling seeing eye dogs and service dogs for returning vets, through their program, “Dog Tags”. (And I dare you not to cry when you visit the site…)

8. Include some dog related music for your processional, recessional or first dance; some great selections from Sue and Ed at First Day Entertainment,in  Pensacola, Fla. How about coming down the aisle to “Rufus Thomas, “Walking the Dog”?  Leaving to “I want a Hot Dog for my Roll”, by Butterbeans and Susie?  Ed came up with a creative and fun list that went on FOREVER!  I wish I officiated in Florida! 

9. If your fuzzies can’t be there “in person” you can have your officiant do a little ‘blessing of the animals” after they thank your guests for coming to support you!

10. Lisa, from Sweet Grace Cakes suggests that if your dog can’t be there “in person”, a 3D grooms cake is the perfect tribute! 

And a bonus; one of my favorite wedding readings ever; “Falling in Love is like owning a Dog”, by Taylor Mali.


So gather all your loved ones around you and enjoy your day with all the love that fills your every day together!