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Dog Friendly Wedding Tips

By Jutta Lammerts, A Day Like No Other - Wedding Coordination and Design

So you had your new couple book your most comprehensive wedding coordination package – congratulations! Good for you!

But – they’re saying they want to bring their dog to their wedding! What now? You can’t simply say “no,” and you shouldn’t. For most people, their dogs are their family members. Unthinkable to exclude them from an occasion like this! And as a dedicated dog owner and dog lover myself, I feel for them – and that’s why my specialty is: dog-friendly weddings! So let me share a bit of advice from my perspective and experience.

In general – dogs are not allowed at Church ceremonies, most hotels, and mansions. The dog could be brought for a short visit immediately following the ceremony, but otherwise has to stay home. In addition, you are limited to the fair-weather season.

The couple needs to decide how comfortable their dog is with new environments and lots of strangers. If in doubt, I recommend to have the dog evaluated by a professional dog trainer who can provide a training plan to prepare.

On wedding day, the key for a stress-free time for your clients and doggie is professional dog care; preferably a dog walker or sitter with whom the dog is already familiar. That way, the dog’s daily routine is maintained and all its needs are taken care of, while the couple is free to celebrate. For our children’s wedding, we invited our dog Buzz’s favorite dog walker, Liz, to come with us as our guest – and she’d take care of Buzz on the day of the wedding, through ceremony and reception, then take him for a walk and a nap, and be back for our dinner on the loggia, where she was seated a little away from the main table with her charge. They both feasted on Filet Mignon, then quietly retreated to her dog-friendly hotel room for the night, giving the grown-ups time to party. It proved the perfect solution, and Liz loved her mini-vacation. I’d really recommend something like this plan to all dog-lovers on their way to the altar!

Lastly, a bit of “housekeeping.” I recommend connecting both with the venue and the caterer well ahead of time to clarify the “ground rules” and expectations as well as the layout and schedule for the wedding day. Take into account that loud music can actually be harmful and painful to a dog’s ears, so it should not be around when it’s getting loud! Identify the areas and time frames where and when the dog can be present. Have your couple sign off on a list of “must-haves” like proper restraints, dog bed, dog food and treats, booking of a dog handler, and current rabies certificate. With all that in place, develop your timeline – with an extra column for “dog and significant other!”