Posted By: Shopprice South Africa
Compiling a wedding guest list can be a complex affair, but when it came to ours there was always one guest who was going to make the cut and that was our dog, Harry.
We adopted our 10-year-old rescue dog a couple of months after we got engaged, following a morning of volunteer dog-walking at a local shelter. We met Harry and were smitten by the sweet, gentle nature of this sorry little mutt who had been mistreated and abandoned. There was no way we could have left without him.
Harry changed the dynamic of our relationship and home life immediately. With another creature to care for, love and protect, my partner and I felt we made the transition from a couple to a family. Adopting a dog with a background like Harry’s was challenging, but the change we have seen him undergo in just a year makes it all worthwhile.
To us, Harry is family, and that was why it was important to have him at our wedding. I also like my dog to accompany me as much as possible in daily life. It was one of the reasons I started our blog, www.shopprice.co.za, to discover more dog-friendly places in South Africa. So of course it was only natural I’d want him with me on such an important occasion.
On our big day, Harry was a superstar. He stole the show and made our photographs even more unique and memorable. We totally recommend having four-legged friends at your wedding, so here are our tips for the best ways to involve your best mate.
6 tips to have your dog at your wedding
1. Check the venue is pet-friendly
Our venue, Silos Estate winery near Berry, was truly dog-friendly. Dogs are permitted to stay in the on-site accommodation by prior arrangement, and allowed on the extensive grounds as long as they are leashed. The owner took time out to make a real fuss of Harry (guaranteed to win over any doting dog-owner), so we all felt extremely comfortable. Having a couple of days beforehand to get used to the site also helped Harry feel more secure.
For me, having my dog with me on that nerve-wracking night before the wedding was a great comfort. And on the morning of the wedding, he was the perfect excuse to step away from all the wedding mania and have a relaxing walk.
If your venue doesn’t allow animals inside another option could be to arrange for him or her to attend the photo session afterwards, or have photos taken in the hours beforehand.
2. Find your dog’s perfect plus-one
Have a dedicated minder for the day. One who your dog knows and trusts. You get to enjoy his company but let someone else handle the responsibility – this isn’t a day when you need any extra stress.
Harry was with us all morning as we roamed around, setting up and getting ready, but then spent the rest of the day with family. It’s important to factor in some resting time – it’s a hectic and emotionally charged day and chances are your dog won’t be used to this level of activity or so many people. Make sure he has time out to recharge and avoid being overwhelmed. Harry’s resting spot was within walking distance of the reception so it was easy for him to be checked on. Otherwise, it may be worth hiring a professional pet sitter so you can enjoy the day and night without worrying.
3. Choose a role that fits your furry friend’s personality
While we wanted Harry to be present on our special day we didn’t give him a special role, such as ring bearer.
I think it would have been too overwhelming for Harry, who has a slightly nervous disposition. Instead he sat with our family, overseeing proceedings, before posing for a few quick photos after the event. And it was enough for me, when I looked out and saw the people I love most in the world, just to see him there.
If your dog is well-trained and confident in crowds, walking a flower girl, bridesmaid or even the bride down the aisle can be a cute option.
4. Prepare for your pup to get papped!
Brief your photographer beforehand, so they know to snap shots of your pooch, and outline any specific photos you’d like taken on the day. Ideally, find a photographer who is comfortable working with animals.
I’ve never met a dog who wasn’t photogenic, so they’re guaranteed to make your photos look great.
5. Fido fashion
Harry had his outfit lined up way before the bride: a snazzy polka dot bow tie and matching lead.
You can get anything from a tux to a tutu for your dog these days, but comfort and safety should always be a priority so ensure your dog is at ease in whatever he or she is wearing, and the collar or harness is secure.
6. Finally… be prepared for anything!
Don’t be surprised if your pet is vocal. Harry, who rarely makes a sound, let out one bark as we made our vows to each other. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect; as the celebrant noted, it sounded like there was agreement from the crowd.
Have an emergency kit on hand, including poo bags and treats. Toys are also a good distraction – and squeaky toys are great for getting a dog to look at the camera! As we were in a tick-prone area we also had a tick remover and had given Harry treatments beforehand.
Remember to ensure your dog has regular access to fresh clean water – nobody likes to run dry at a wedding, after all.
Above all, enjoy being surrounded by the people – and pets – you love most in the world, and having a day that feels uniquely “you”.