"Never work with children or animals" W.C. Fields
Full disclosure: I’m a dog lover, so when couples want to include their dogs in their Orlando wedding, I’m all for it. I also understand that not everyone agrees with me, but if you do, read on.
Including a dog (or dogs) in wedding ceremonies is a relatively new trend that is increasing in popularity. They’re serving as ring bearers, attendants and escorts. However, having a four-legged family member at your wedding requires planning and preparation. Here are some tips:
• Check with your Orlando wedding venue to find out if pets are allowed. Don’t assume that just because you’re getting married outside that it’s okay – or just because you’re getting married in a church, it’s not. Ask.
• Decide if you’ll have your dogs at the reception as well as the wedding. Remember that health department rules may limit attendance at the reception to certified service animals.
• Train and practice. If you want your dogs to wear a special collar, carry a basket, pull a small cart or whatever, don’t wait until the last minute to teach them what you want them to do or get them accustomed to a special costume. Train at home and also at the venue so your dogs aren’t surprised.
• Assign someone to be responsible for your pets during the ceremony. Choose one of your attendants or a guest who knows the animals and is able to keep them sitting quietly (or take them out if they act up).
• Let everyone in the wedding party as well as all of your vendors know the dogs will be there. This gives anyone who might have allergies sufficient notice to prepare for being in close proximity to your pets, and will let vendors take any additional steps necessary to provide their services with the animals in mind.
• Feed your dogs well in advance or at the end of the night to avoid any “accidents”. Be sure to give them ample opportunity to do their “business” before the ceremony so you don’t have any unpleasant surprises while you’re saying your vows.
Remember that some pets just won’t be able to handle a wedding in an unfamiliar place with lots of unknown people. Don’t try to force your dogs to endure a situation they’ll only find stressful.
If you want your pets to share your special day but you can make it work logistically, include them in some of your pre- and post-wedding photos. Just know that you could end up with a Jethro on your hands!