Wedding Dog Days
published August 2nd, 2014
Weddings are a family affair, so it’s only natural that you’d want all your loved ones present on your big day. In an ideal world every family member should receive an invitation to the wedding ceremony. Although obviously we don’t live in an ideal world, and there are exceptions to this rule… especially if certain family members are… how shall we put this… high maintenance. Let’s face it, if “family politics” is casting a shadow over your wedding preparations then it’s not a problem that’s exclusive to your wedding. Thousands of couples face such complications and dilemmas over seating arrangements, transport, photos… and there’s always the fussy eaters.
Sadly, one much-loved family member is often overlooked at weddings. They play a huge role in your daily life but when it comes to the biggest day of your life they become a problem and an inconvenience. So they’re brushed to one side and excluded from proceedings because they’re considered a hindrance or a nuisance.
No, we’re not talking about the eccentric old grandmother who’s lost one or two marbles, enjoys making rather waspish comments about the bridal party and struggles to keep a lid on her rather bigoted, “old school” ideology.
Obviously we’re talking about the dog. Yes, the family canine should be regarded as a pivotal member of the family, so why would you ever want to exclude them from such a grand occasion? Because they might pee at the altar? They might eat the order of service? They might bark continuously during your rousing rendition of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”? Well, that’s a lot of “mights”. You never know, they might even appreciate not being locked in the house for hours and being whacked with a newspaper by the old school grandmother who couldn’t attend the wedding because she’s a public liability. Although she seems to make a convenient dog sitter, eh?
That’s the trouble with weddings. Finding a dog sitter may pose problems as you really want a trusted friend or family member… but they’re all too busy attending your wedding, and therefore not available for dog sitting duties.
It may be that your dog is perfectly happy to sit at home watching reruns of Magnum, P.I. or Manimal (the short-lived series about a shape-shifting man who possessed the ability to turn himself into any animal he choses). Some dogs can tolerate a few hours of “home alone” time without destroying the coffee table or driving neighbours up the wall with their incessant barking and howling… while other dogs like to combine the two and perhaps throw in a nice surprise “present” on the kitchen floor. No, they’re not going to take the time to browse your gift registry if you decided to lock them in a room for ten hours - with no Wi-Fi connection.
You may wish to entertain the possibility that the family dog can attend the wedding. Even if they just lie in the corner chewing their rawhide or stag bar. Obviously you should probably delegate a member of your wedding party to be “Chief Dog Handler” in case your pooch has designs on the bridal bouquet, or has a habit of “enthusiastically” greeting people who may not appreciate such public displays of affection.
If your dog is exceptionally well behaved then you may even wish to assign them a duty, like “Ring bearer” or “Flower girl” - if it’s a bitch. Male dogs may not appreciate such frivolity.
The big question is “Has your dog got what it takes? Well, the big question is probably “Do you take this man/woman…” but let’s focus on the dog for now.
Weddings can be stressful and overwhelming affairs. Not just for the bride and groom, but also for dogs. Probably because they don’t have a Scooby-Doo what’s going on. To them it’s not a wedding, it’s simply a mass gathering of people, lots of noise and enough food to feed the denizens of an animal shelter for a month.
Sociable dogs that are outgoing and friendly will undoubtedly cope better in this sort of environment than nervous or anxious dogs. If your dog is the shy / introvert type then on this occasion it’s probably best to leave them at home, curled up on their bed with plenty of food, water, toys, and a good book… to chew.
While the dog may be able to fit into the wedding ceremony, a wedding reception is no place for a dog. The loud, party atmosphere may be music to your ears - but not theirs.
Give your bridal party ample warning that a dog will be present on the day. Some people are allergic to dogs or simply “unsettled” by them. The last thing you want is for members of your wedding party to leave the ceremony, screaming. Actually the *last* thing you want is probably your other half failing to show up for the wedding, but you get the gist.
If you’d like your dog to carry out a duty, such as walking up the aisle carrying a box that contains the ring… you may wish to start rehearsing several months prior to the event. Some dogs don’t pick up commands or tricks as easily as others. It may take a lot of hard work - and patience.
Finally, this may sound a tad obvious but do ensure dogs are welcome at your ceremony venue before taking them along on the day. Otherwise you may find that your “Ring bearer” has gone walkies…