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Best Bets for Wedding Dogs

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Canine Callings

If your dog does well around lots of people and can stand still, he or she could be the best man, maid of honor or another member of the wedding party. “A few of our couples have had their dogs be ring bearers,” says Mandi Wiley, co-owner of Champagne Wedding Coordination in Portland, Ore. Is Buster on the skittish side? Consider just bringing him in pre- or post-ceremony for family photos.

Creature Comfort

According to Katie Preston Toepfer, co-author of “Wedding Dogs: A Celebration of Holy Muttrimony” (Quirk Books, 2013), it’s essential to assign pooch duties to someone who you know can handle it: “Your dog will see you and may bolt towards you, so unless your little page boy or flower girl has adult strength, I’d have someone extra walk your dog down the aisle.”

Wiley suggest testing how your dog reacts to crowds (a busy park, bustling downtown) prior to the big day. Toepfer also advises letting Bowser get a preview of the venue for sniffing and even marking territory, if necessary, and make sure any fancy accessories, collars or leashes they’ll wear during the ceremony fit well and are secure.

Have lots of treats on hand, make sure your pup isn’t under- or over-exercised, and have someone to take the dog/s home after the ceremony, Wiley adds.

Doggy Details

In terms of logistics, outdoor weddings obviously are more dog-friendly, Toepfer says, however, some indoor venues do allow couples to include pets. Either way, if your dog’s participation is important to you, make it the first question you ask when scouting locations.

Your guests should know you well enough to be accepting of your choice, but it’s still considerate to inform them on your website in case of allergies or fears, and you should prepare your photographer and check with your florist, as some plants are toxic for animals.

[Photo: Davina + Daniel / "Wedding Dogs: A Celebration of Holy Muttrimony" (Quirk Books, 2013)]

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