When your fur baby is part of the family, you should *absolutely* consider including them in your wedding festivities! Here are a few tips to make sure your pup is safe and happy, so you can enjoy your wedding day, stress-free!
1. Important things to consider
We're dog-lovers here at Stargazed. We understand how much you love your fur baby, and we want you to have your cake and eat it too... meaning, to include your pup in your wedding day without being obligated to attend to their needs all weekend long. To ensure the best experience possible for you and your pup, ask these questions before deciding to include your dog in your wedding.
Does your wedding venue (ceremony and/or reception sites) allow dogs on property? Some do and some don't. Some are cool with hosting your pup as part of an outdoor ceremony, but don't want him wandering the property all day. If your venue doesn't allow dogs, don't despair! You can always do some photos with your doggo off-property!
Next, is this a destination wedding for you? If yes, you've got a lot more to plan for.
First, is your hotel dog-friendly? Many are in Colorado and in the mountains! (Do be aware that they may tack a cleaning fee onto your room rate.)
Secondly, if you're not super familiar with the area, ask your wedding planner for recommendations on reliable dog sitters and walkers in the area. My friends, this is NOT an expense you want to skimp on or a job to farm out to your cousin (who -- let's be honest -- may be drunk when it's time to take the pup out!) You want to make sure that your dog is well taken care of while you're distracted with your wedding responsibilities, and that your family and friends also get to enjoy themselves at your wedding!
Rover is always an option if you can't get any personal recommendations. A dog-sitter who has helped with weddings before, like Aspen-based Four Paw Concierge or Aspen Unleashed Pet Care, is a bonus! They will understand the assignment! Having a dedicated person to be with your fur baby ensures your peace of mind, and at the same time you and your friends and family can enjoy the day without running back and forth to let the dog out.
Lastly, what parts of your wedding day would you like your pup to be a part of? Ceremony? Family photos? The First Look?
In my experience, it's ideal to have a "dog handler" who can bring your pup to the events they're involved in just before they need to be there. Your handler can arrive at the ceremony site with your dog just in time to walk down the aisle. Assign a wedding party member or another friend to walk your dog down the aisle on a leash. Then your handler is at the ready to whisk your pup away for a walk if they get fussy during the ceremony. (Puppy whines can really distract from your vows if picked up on the videographer's audio feed.) They'll bring your dog back just in time for family photos following the ceremony. Once photos conclude, you'll want to be able to greet your guests at your reception, so I recommend your dog handler takes your pup for a walk or back to your hotel room.
Pro tip: your florist can pretty up a leash or collar with greenery and a bit of floral. At the very least, don't forget to remove the poop-bag dispenser from the leash before the walk down the aisle!
2. DOs and DON'Ts for pups at weddings
DO plan ahead to make sure your pup has someone to be with all day, and that their handler has everything they need for your pup's comfort and safety. For example...
DO think about where your dog will sit during the ceremony... at the bride and groom's feet? With the groomsman they walked down the aisle with? Or will they be with one of the seated guests in the front row?
For Colorado mountain weddings like the ones we plan, altitude can take a *big* toll on a dog, especially smaller dogs. DO make sure they have access to plenty of clean water. DON'T let them drink from the local streams, no matter how pristine they look. DO ensure they get inside to rest and drink when they seem sluggish.
DO pack treats for bribery as necessary! Your dog may need some encouragement to cheese for the camera.
DO make sure your handler has all the important instructions and info on your dog's needs, *and* your wedding planner's phone number in case of emergency, since you (hopefully) won't have your phone on you as you dance the night away. The likelihood of an emergency vet visit may be slim, but make sure you have the name and number of someone local to call. I once heard from a couple the morning after their wedding that they had to take their sock-eating Berniedoodle to the emergency vet late on their wedding night.
DO consider hiring a dog sitter for the additional events surrounding the wedding. Your wedding venue may allow pups, but your rehearsal dinner restaurant might not.
DO take your pup for a long walk or hike on the morning of the wedding (or have someone else take them), to avoid bunches of pent-up energy later in the day.
DON'T forget to include some floral adornments for your pup in your floral order! They're a member of the Wedding Party, after all!
3. Biggest Misconceptions
The biggest misconception I see concerning dogs at weddings is when couples assume their pup will behave the same way they do at home in this unfamiliar setting with unfamiliar people. Aside from the obvious difference of location, a wedding day can be an emotionally charged environment, so your dog may act differently than at home. I recognize I'm repeating myself, but I can't stress this enough. Hire a dog sitter who can keep your beloved pet safe and leave you free to enjoy the parts of your wedding day that aren't dog-friendly.
A little advance planning is all that's necessary to make sure your pup is safe and happy on your wedding day, and that you and your nearest and dearest are tearing it up on the dance floor all night without stressing about your precious pup.
We hope this was helpful! Let us know what you think in the comments!