25 Ways to Include Your Dog in Your Wedding
Whether or not they can join you in person, here are fun ways to make your puppy a part of your big day.
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How to Include Your Pup in Your Big Day
Our dogs are family and it’s hard to imagine not having them there on what many people call the most important day of their life.
“When it comes to your wedding day, you want to be surrounded by those that you love most and your dogs certainly fall into that category,” Wedding Planner and Founder of Alexis Doktor Designs, Alexis Doktor said. “They bring an energy to the room that you can’t replicate. Everyone is in a better mood when they are around a dog!”
So where does your pup fit into the picture? There are some obvious things to consider, such as whether your venue allows dogs or if your dog listens to commands. But, even if you don’t have the most well-trained pet, we’ve found plenty of ways to make them a part of your big day.
Greet Your Guests
How can your guests not smile when they see this puppy surprise? Rachel Peddle used her dog, Rigi’s, stamp of approval on her wedding sign and the puppy sat outside of the ceremony to greet people at the door – with the venue’s permission. Rachel’s dog walker took Rigi home afterword.
“Rigi is so friendly and great with people, and puts smiles on faces everywhere we go,” Rachel said. “We knew he would set a great tone for the wedding as people walked in.”
Include Them in the Bridal Party
Often, so much of the wedding day is spent getting ready and taking photos. If including your dog in the ceremony or reception isn’t an option, consider adding them to your group photos instead.
Surprise Your Spouse
This groom, Joey Harman, decided to surprise his wife during their wedding photoshoot with their beloved dog, Mika.
“When we were out doing our photoshoot, our photographer had me turn around and close my eyes,” Stephanie Harman said. “I figured she was just setting me up for some kind of shot but when I turned around, there was Mika! I became so emotional because I first got Mika when I was 16 years-old. She was a part of my life for 14 years. It was very significant to me that she could be a part of our wedding day, since she has been a part of everything else in my life.”
Joey hired a wedding dog daycare company called Furever and Fur Always to bring Mika to the location and coordinate with the photographer.
“It worked flawlessly, and I'll never forget Steph's reaction,” he said. “It will probably be the thing I remember most about our wedding.”
Let Them Carry the Rings
One popular way to incorporate your dog into your wedding is by designating them as the ring bearer.
For Russel and Melaura Olinger, their dog Oliver is family, and it was a “no brainer” to have him as a part of their wedding.
“We both have plenty of nieces and nephews that easily could have filled the role as ring bearer, but we decided to keep it to just us,” Russel said. “We did not have an elaborate ceremony and were more focused on keeping things fun and light hearted.”
Couples usually tie the rings to their dog’s collar but, if that feels too risky, you can use fake rings as symbolism.
Dress Them in Flowers
You can incorporate your pup into the entire look of your wedding just by outfitting them with a wreath of flowers that matches your bouquet.
Jennifer Meyer Hovey and her wife, Lisa, felt it was especially important to include their “fur baby,” Joey, wherever they could. “We included him in photos, as well as making an appearance at the reception,” said Jennifer. “Our wedding guests all absolutely loved having Joey there. Everyone also adored the flower collar that we had specially made for him – we could tell it made him feel extra fancy!”
If you decide to go this route, remember to research the type of flowers you’re dressing your little friend in because some can be poisonous to dogs.
Tie Them into Your Bouquet
If you’re not able to bring your dog to the wedding, tying a locket with their photo to your bouquet is another sentimental way to keep them close.
Alexis recommends bringing your pup around high energy events before the actual wedding day – an outdoor music festival, street fair or any other large group event – to see how they’ll behave.
“Your dogs may be great around your friends or in small groups, but the sheer volume of people at a wedding can be frightening to a pup who isn’t used to large group situations,” she says.
Include Them in the Ceremony
If your venue allows it, invite your dogs to sit next to you along with the rest of the wedding party during the wedding ceremony.
“Bring them to your rehearsal, if possible, to get them familiar with the space and make sure they understand their role in your day,” Alexis recommends for this option.
Bonus: Your photographer can get some really fun photos as you (or a member of your wedding party) walking them down the aisle at the end of the ceremony.
Seat Them with the Guests
Another option is to simply seat your dog with your guests – if you feel confident that they can behave. This pup, Kaya, had a front-row seat to watching her humans get married.
“Kaya was our ring bearer and dog of honor,” bride Traci Reusser-Plunkert said. “She was walked down the aisle and sat at the front of the ceremony while we said our vows.”
Put Them in Your Official Photos
Weddings typically present an opportunity for really special photos with family members – and your dog is family, so why not include them?
“Many couples will have their dogs at the venue for pictures, either before the ceremony or during cocktail hour,” Alexis said. “This can be done whether or not your pup is actually included in any other day-of duties.”
Save Some Photos Just for Them
You’ll look back at your wedding photos for years to come, and this is your chance to take beautiful sets as a couple with your dogs.
“The pugs were at the wedding the whole time and just really cute,” Photographer Misti Layne said of the above photo. However, one thing to keep in mind when photographing animals is that “you get what you get,” Misti says. “My advice is to just go with it.”
Coordinate Action Shots
If you know you definitely want to do a photoshoot with your dogs, talk to your photographer ahead of time about the types of photos you want to take.
“The big dogs were the finale after an elopement and some portrait time,” said Misti. “We did that street scene about 6 times, but it was about fewer cars, keeping the dogs in tighter and their smiles.”
Mix Up a Signature Drink
Emma and Conrad Scully knew they wanted to include their dogs, Mackey and Riley, in their wedding but admit that their pups “live up to the small dog stereotype and like to bark a lot.” So, they decided to create specialty drinks named after them and tapped Kate Wilkin, calligrapher and owner of Apricity Ink, to illustrate their dogs for a custom drink menu.
“We really tried to think about our dogs’ personalities when picking the drink that went with each,” Emma said. “Mackey is a tad older and wiser, while Riley is wild haired goofball. The Mackey drink was a more traditional and simple drink, and The Riley was a fun, fruity drink. We did a great job capturing their personalities.”
Order Special Cocktail Napkins
Another way to spice up the bar is by adding your pups’ faces to the cocktail napkins. With every drink – and at most weddings, there are many – your guests will be reminded of your four-legged family members.
Create a Custom Cake Topper
The wedding cake always stands out, but it will pop even more with a custom cake topper of your family - including your dog, of course. Even better, you can save the cake topper and display it in your home as a keepsake from your wedding day.
Add Them to the Decor
Bride Jacqueline Chiarot included her dog in framed photos that served as table numbers.
“Our Bailey girl couldn’t be at our wedding with us, so this was the next best option,” she said. “A nice, personal touch to the wedding decor too!”
Donate to an Animal Charity
Crystal Lam and Roger Tang love their dogs Minnie and Max so much that they came up with the idea to donate money on behalf of their guests to an animal shelter as a thank you gift.
“We really wanted them to be there with us on our wedding day but unfortunately, pets were not allowed at our wedding venue,” Roger said. “All our friends know how much we love and care about animals, and thought and it was a very sweet idea.”
The cards were designed in line with their wedding color palette, and even their actual wedding attire was styled based on the Minnie and Max illustration.
Turn Them into Your Wedding Favor
Worried about your wedding favors getting left behind? That’s highly unlikely if they’re delicious cookies decorated to look just like your dog! Consider these impressive details on custom-ordered cookies from The Flour Shop.
Give Out Actual Doggy Bags
At this wedding, the couple set up a “biscuit bar” where other dog owners could take treats back home to their pup.
Speaking of treats, Alexis recommends remembering to pack a few for your your dog if they can make it to the wedding. “These can be used to reward them for a job well done and can also keep them in check if they get antsy before the wedding begins.”
Hit the Dance Floor
Your dog just might steal the show if you bring them out during your first dance! Cassidy Maddox didn’t originally plan to have Beaux, her 4-year-old labradoodle, come onto the dance floor, but she’s glad he did.
“We were in the middle of our first dance, and next thing we know we see my little cousin walking towards us with Beaux and he said ‘here, he wants to dance too.’” Cassidy said. “My dad put him up to it, but it ended up being one of the best memories! Everyone still talks about it!”
Put Them in the Photo Booth
When planning her wedding, Lindsey Grossman says she couldn’t imagine not including their dog, Bodie.
“With that being said, we realized that having a dog participate in many events can be a burden,” she said. Instead, the couple opted to have Bodie join them for photos prior to the ceremony and incorporate him throughout the day in personal and unique ways, which included ordering a cutout of Bodie from FatHead. This gave their guests a chance to get their own photo with Bodie in the photobooth.
“Everyone knows how important he is to us,” she said. “It was a great way to include him in the elements of the wedding that weren't necessarily ‘dog-friendly.’”
Make a Splashy Exit
If you’re already planning a fun wedding exit with sparklers or bubbles, consider whether your dog can also be a part of it. Just remember that animals feed off of human emotions, “so the more excited your wedding party gets, the more excited your pup will get too,” Alexis warns. You know your dog best, so if it would be frightening for them, look for other photo ops to include them in.
Add Them to Your Invitation
Before you even get to your actual wedding day, there are subtle ways to include your pup in the (many!) steps and activities leading up to the big day. This couple opted to include an illustration of their dog, Jasper, in a design created for their RSVP cards by Addie Cullenberg of Little Ivy Paper Goods.
Customize Your Stamps
Adding this surprising personal touch to your stamps will bring a smile to your guests’ face, and – fingers crossed – encourage them to send in their RSVP on time! Laura Cabble said she and her husband, Andrew, included their dogs Ralphie and Allie on their postage stamps because they hoped it would make people smile and laugh when sending back the RSVP cards. The guests loved it so much, they even had a few people save the RSVP envelope for the stamp and send in a new envelope with their own.
Unfortunately, Laura lost her dog Allie to a rare disease a few months before the wedding. “Having her on the stamp made it feel like she was still a part of us and there during our big day,” she said.
Take Engagement Photos
If you’re especially concerned about how your dog will behave on your actual wedding day, think about including them in your engagement shoot instead!
“More and more couples are opting to bring their furry friends along for these photos, and more and more photographers are becoming accustomed to working with dogs on shoot day,” Alexis said.
Lauryn King and Stephen Bullard are opting to include their pup, Sadie, in their engagement shoot and at their upcoming wedding. “It’s a little more difficult to have a photoshoot with your dog than without – she was at a new place and wanted to explore!” Lauryn said. “We were able to get some great pictures with her though, thanks to the help of our photographer and my sister who distracted her.”
Suit Up for a Post-Wedding Shoot
The ultimate dedication is getting dressed up again days or weeks after your actual wedding, just so you can get some quality wedding photos with your pup. This couple’s dogs were not allowed at their wedding venue, so they booked a session with photographer Holly Croft and scheduled it for a few weeks after their wedding.
“They dressed in their wedding attire, and we went to a local park where they frequently brought the dogs,” Croft said. “So, they were able to have their ‘wedding day’ photos with their dogs without it being on the actual wedding day.”