Anticipate

Advice for including your four-legged friend in your ceremony

2012-09-21T14:00:00Z Advice for including your four-legged friend in your ceremonyBy Ashley Boyer nwitimes.com
September 21, 2012 2:00 pm  • 

He’s been there for you through it all, sharing your joys and sorrows. He’s your best friend, your confidant, your dog, and you want him to be with you on your big day. But is he ready for his wedding debut? Consider these factors before sending your pooch down the aisle:

Evaluate your dog’s temperament. Is your dog well-behaved? How does she respond to large groups? Does he pull when walked? These are a few of the questions Jessica Pennington, owner and lead planner at Stella Event Design in Southwest Michigan, asks of her clients who want to include their dog in the ceremony.

Be realistic about your dog’s ability to walk down the aisle without becoming a major distraction. “While dogs can be great to act as a ring bearer or even a ‘groomsdog’ (walked down the aisle by a groomsman),” Pennington says, “the last thing any couple wants is an unruly animal disrupting their vows and special moments.”

Contact your venue. “Many venues will have guidelines or restrictions on having animals on the property (some with hefty fines), so it’s important to check with your venue and ensure it’s acceptable to bring your pet on site,” Pennington advises.

Select a trusted handler. Consider the size and temperament of the dog, the handler’s comfort level with pets, and the relationship the dog has with the handler before sending the pair down the aisle. While it may look cute to have your 3-year-old nephew walk with your dog, a more experienced hand will keep a larger dog in line and be more likely to prevent potential disasters.

Have an emergency plan. Even the best-laid plans can go awry, so prepare a Plan B. Pennington recommends deciding beforehand what you’ll do if the dog gets too rowdy. Appoint a person to be in charge of the dog after she’s made her trip down the aisle.

Make post-ceremony arrangements for the dog. Once the ceremony is over, it’s time to party! If your pooch won’t be attending the reception, arrange ahead of time for someone to take the dog home or drop the dog off at kennel, Pennington says.

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