Dogs at weddings - aaaaw, cuuuuute! If your furbaby is the (other) love of your life why wouldn't you want them with you on your special day?
Well, to be honest, there is a bloody good reason why people say "never work with children or animals".
While dogs can be super adorable, friendly and engaging one on one or in small groups with people that they know, most need constant supervision and attention around larger crowds.
And sometimes dogs can become over-excited, anxious, clingy, snappy, jumpy or plain scared in environments they’re not familiar with or in unusual situations - like at a wedding.
Then, when it comes to toileting, walking, grooming and taking them home at the appropriate time, which of your family or friends are you going to ask to give up their night of fun to play puppysitter?
And (sometimes even more importantly) who would you trust with your pet with, when you're busy being the guests of honour?
Enter the wedding pet service peeps.
Although not exactly a new breed (!), these specialist and passionate vendors are definitely finding that their unique skill set, discretion and patience has been growing in demand in recent years.
Magda from Coastal Pet Services is absolutely devoted to and loves animals; she regularly volunteers at the RSPCA and has completed first aid training at the Animal Welfare League.
Just don't start her talking about her four Cavalier King Charles Spaniels - you'll never get away!
While her everyday services include pet sitting, boarding, dog walking, daycare, puppy playtime and even a pet taxi service, the real fun starts when she gets a call from a couple about including their dog(s) in their wedding day.
I sat down with Magda for a chat about her wedding services and how a couple can plan ahead and enjoy the most relaxed and happy experience with their beloved pet on the big day.
What Is A Wedding Pet Service?
For around the same cost as an extra guest, Magda looks after everything to do with your dog leading up to, during and after your wedding. Coastal Pet Services offer a complete package that is personalised to suit your pet and your needs.
free initial consultation
arranging hydrobath & grooming appointment (if required)
dressing your pet according to your specifications
transporting your pet to/from rehearsal, ceremony and photoshoot locations
caring for your pet throughout the event
feeding, walking, watering, potty breaks, treats, cuddles and all other necessities
after event care according to your requirements (boarding etc.)
How Would You Like Your Pet To Be Involved?
There are heaps of different ways that your dog can be included in your wedding day.
Here's some fun ideas to get you thinking:
meet and greet at the ceremony (an excellent ice breaker)
flower dog (carrying a bouquet or basket in their mouth!) OR
lead by the flower girl(s) on a floral or ribbon decorated lead, with or without a floral collar
groom's dog (hanging at the front with the guys - bowtie/sign around neck optional)
ring bearer (rings carried in small bag tied to their collar)
sign bearer (super cute sign with "Mummy's Coming" at the processional and/or "Just Married" at the signing)
What Planning & Preparation Is Needed?
1) Consider your pet's personality
Magda recommends that, before you contact a pet wedding assistant, you consider if your dog's personality is suited to being at/in your wedding. Ask yourself:
do you socialise your dogs regularly?
how do they react to strangers or in a group?
As harsh as it may sound, an anxious, hyperactive or overly excitable animal will almost certainly feel overwhelmed and confused being surrounded by 100+ guests who are fawning all over them. And you'll waste valuable time stressing that they will jump all over your mother-in-law's silk dress with their muddy paws.
2) Check with your venue
There are some wedding venues (think wineries and vineyards) who will welcome your furry friend with open arms and there are those that will not allow them onsite.
Before you set your heart on that adorable floral collar on Etsy, give your venue manager a call.
3) Inform your guests
While your dog is the light of your life, it is wise to keep in mind that pets are not everyone's cup of tea. It is only considerate to let your family and friends know if your dog will be in attendance and this will also help to avoid drama later on (think allergies, children, phobias etc.)
4) Take care when planning their outfit
If you would like your furbaby to wear a tie, suit jacket or skirt, make sure that all adornments are well sewn on and there are no loose ties or cords that may become a safety issue.
Some dogs are okay with being dressed up, or having a sign or floral wreath hung around their shoulders, but it's always best to have a test run - never sacrifice safety for style.
5) Let your photographer and videographer know well in advance
Make sure that your suppliers know how you would like your pet to be included and ask them if they have any ideas that you might not have thought of. It is also useful to let them know when and where your dog will be with you on the day.
6) Provide food and snacks to your wedding pet assistant
Most dogs have particular food preferences and a good owner will know what they are. Your wedding is not an ideal time for your dog to try something new (think: upset tummy) on the days leading up to or the day of.
Contact Magda at Coastal Pet Services (Adelaide based) on 0451 831 829.
Did you include your pet in your wedding? We'd love to hear about it (and see some pictures!). Let us know how you went in the comments below or on our Facebook page.