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“Can we include our dog in the wedding ceremony?” is a question I get asked quite often. Yes of course you can! It’s one of the really fabulous things about being a marriage celebrant; you never know what your next couple are going to want for their wedding ceremony! Every couple is so different and so individual and it’s great fun to make sure that their wedding ceremony is as unique as they are. But as much as you love your wonderful, devoted pet, there are things you need to take into consideration to make sure it’s a success and not a disaster! Dogs can be a bit like children – totally cute and absolutely unpredictable – and that can make things tricky. A few tips:
Have someone in charge of the dog at all times and that shouldn’t be you. This means someone, who the dog likes and obeys, and who has the dog on a leash.
The dog can’t be a ‘barker’. If you can’t stop him/her from barking at every passing bird, motorbike and child, or even worse, if they bark when they can’t be by your side, then it won’t be relaxing and fun for you. Remember there will be a lot of people there on the day, that the dog is not familiar with.
And please, those lovable pooches can’t jump up on people! Most people who have dogs don’t realise how annoying it can be for others when your dog jumps up on them, and especially when they are in their best outfit.
But if you think you dog can handle the excitement, and you can too, then it can be great fun to have your dog as a ring-bearer for example, or even to walk you down the aisle. If they are to carry the rings, make sure they are not going to take off down the field unexpectedly. It will be a very unfamiliar atmosphere for them so be prepared for anything and everything.
As ring-bearers, two things seem to work best. Either a harness where the ring box or cushion is properly attached to the top of the harness or a little bag attached to the collar with a carabiner hook, tight to the collar and not dangling down. The dog should be on a leash during the delivery, unless of course you are on your own property 🙂 Let them have some practise runs to get used to it.
It’s always lovely to have them in the photos though, so if you don’t feel that they can tick the boxes above, arrange for them to be close by so they can join you after the ceremony for photos. They are, after all, a very important part of your family!
Photographer: Anna Pretorius