by Jim Marks
The trend to have the bride’s and/or groom’s dogs participate in the wedding ceremony is growing – at least here in pet-loving Asheville. And why not? Don’t wedding parties usually include the couples’ best friends?
Nicole Bloom, owner of Two Sweet Sparrows Wedding and Event Planning, and Mark Arrington, co-owner of Bobby Mark’s Designs with partner Bobby Hill, both reported that they have had all good experiences with dogs in wedding ceremonies, and that they see the pets being included more often. In fact, Bloom, at the time of her interview, was planning a ceremony that would include two pugs.
The roles played by the pets can vary greatly. Some might carry a ring box on their collar, others might act as a bearer of flowers, while still others will simply have a garland of flowers around their necks, or be dressed in appropriate wedding attire. (Arrington noted it is hard to make a bridal veil stay on a dog that doesn’t want it to stay on.)
“Sometimes,” Bloom said, “couples want it both ways.” Yes, they wanted their beloved pets to be involved. But, “people don’t want too much attention taken away from them.” In general, dogs are only at the ceremony itself and included in the photos for the wedding album. They are not invited to the reception. (Editor’s note: Convincing the dog that none of the filet mignon is his/hers, or convincing all the guests to forego sharing their wine with Fifi or Fido, would be almost impossible.)
According to Bloom, it is generally the bride who informs her that a dog(s) will be included in the ceremony. And, whenever that happens, Bloom goes over a whole checklist of things for which to consider and plan. Can the pet’s behavior be expected to be good, if not exemplary? Will there be any guests with a fear of dogs, or an allergy to them? Will there be children in the wedding party or among the guests who are afraid of dogs? Might the dog be disturbed by the music, applause, or other loud noises? Might there be seasonal problems – rain, snow, heat, allergens – to make the pet uncomfortable?
Once it is definitely decided to include the dog, Bloom executes a whole checklist of actions, most of which Arrington also volunteered as standard procedure. She makes sure that there will be a pet sitter to care for the animal before and after the nuptials, provide food and water, and have emergency numbers for veterinary care if needed. She confirms that the venues for the ceremony and the reception are pet friendly. She insures that the dog will visit a groomer before the ceremony. And, if there are no friends or family to care for the pet temporarily, Bloom researches boarding arrangements for the dog while the newlyweds are honeymooning.
It takes a lot of planning to include a dog in a wedding. But it can certainly be worth the trouble to make an already memorable day even better.