As a photographer, I have a few stories about dogs at weddings.

Picture this: the ceremony flowers are in place. The wedding party is ready. The maid of honor adjusts the veil, and the wedding planner checks the groomsmen’s ties one last time. Moments before the procession begins, the unexpected happens.

Tail wagging and slobber flying, a furry creature rises onto his hind legs and lunges at the bride’s bouquet. A few violent shakes later, a mangled stump is all that remains, flowers strewn in every direction.

At another wedding, the bride and groom were in the middle of exchanging vows when a blur of fur shot down the aisle. It was their dog, who was originally supposed to be in the wedding.

But the poor pup was becoming overstimulated and the couple changed their minds just before the ceremony. Left alone indoors, the dog polished off an entire cheese plate, pooped on the floor, and chewed up the leg of a couch before finding an open door and making a break for it.

Then, there was the dog that only wanted to go swimming.

These canine catastrophes make for great stories. But a dog ring bearer running wild might not be what a bride or groom wants for their big day.

Tips for Dogs at a Wedding

If you are going to be joining your humans at their wedding, there are a few things you should consider:

  • Is the venue pet-friendly?
  • Are you the kind of dog that remains calm in a crowd, especially if there is lots of excitement and laughter?
  • Do you have the training and temperament to calmly participate in a wedding ceremony? Be honest 🙂
  • Is jealousy or separation anxiety a thing of the past?
  • Can you be trusted with the rings?

If you answered yes to the questions above, congratulations! You’ve taken the first step towards being a great addition to the wedding party. Here are some more tips to help you succeed!

Wear Something Cute

This one is a no-brainer. After all, humans love to see dogs in people clothes!

There is a good chance you’ll be the star of the wedding, so you need to comfortable. Whatever you plan to wear, be sure you try it on before the wedding to make sure it fits properly.

If the bride is going to paint her toenails, you should too!

Follow Instructions

Sit. Stay. Forget about the squirrel! This is your chance to impress everyone with your calm demeanor and ability to follow instructions. It may be helpful to visit the venue beforehand. In order to get more comfortable with your duties, I suggest you practice walking down the aisle a few times.

Bring an Assistant

Flower collar for a dog at a wedding.

All celebrities should have at least one assistant. While your humans are exchanging rings and saying romantic things, you’ll need someone to keep an eye on you.

This assistant could be someone in the wedding party, but it could also be a friend who doesn’t have any other wedding-related responsibilities. The more familiar you are with this petsitter, the better. A leash is standard equipment for the job.

I recommend a specific timeline for dog duties. This could include morning exercise, mealtime, ceremony start time, and start/finish times for any group photos that include pets.

If dogs are allowed at the cocktail hour or reception, there should be a clear plan for these events as well.

Ultimately, the happy couple should have someone to guide you down the aisle and watch over you for the remainder of the wedding festivities.

The last thing they want to be worried about is your well-being or whereabouts.

Don’t Lose the Rings

Even if there is an official dog ring bearer, many couples use faux rings, or simply hold onto the rings themselves. I have seen weddings rings go missing on a wedding day. I wouldn’t wish that kind of drama on anyone.

If you are given permission to carry the rings down the aisle, I suggest a foolproof attachment system, like this sturdy keychain carabiner.

Carabiner keychain idea for attaching the wedding rings to a dog.

Stay off the Wedding Dress

This is pretty obvious to humans, but dogs sometimes need reminding. At the very least, check your paws for mud first!

Dog walking on a bride's wedding dress.

Doggie Treats

Yup, this is one of the best things about being dog ring bearer. Treats are excellent tools for motivation as well as positive reinforcement. I have seen them used throughout the day to keep dogs on track and behaving well.

Tuxedo suit for a Shih Tzu dog.
Treats for a dog at a wedding.

Have Fun!

When you get to be a dog ring bearer at a wedding, you’ve definitely made it to the big leagues! Follow the tips in this article to make sure you (and your humans) have an awesome day. Have fun, and make sure your photographer captures a few of your antics.

Dog licking a flower girl's face.
Small white dog stealing the bride's food at an outdoor wedding reception.
Bride and groom walking with their dog at a backyard wedding.

Chris Werner Photography

Are you planning a wedding that includes your dog? I would love to be there! Use my contact page to shoot me a message and see if I am available on your date. To see more examples of wedding photos, head over to my portfolio page.

If you enjoyed this article, check out my wedding planning tips page for more inspiration and suggestions.

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