If you’re like any (respectable) pet parent, you likely want your fur babies to be a part of your day. I get it, I’m a dog mom–they’re basically our children. But there are some important things to consider before you make the call on whether or not to include your dogs in your wedding.

Here’s my furbaby, Austin.  He’s horrendous in loud venues, new places, and just overall has generalized anxiety that often prevents him from even walking down the street.  Pine cones help.  You can find him on IG at @selfieswATX.

Austin the Dog

1. Be honest with yourselves about your pets’ behavior.

It goes without saying (but I feel the need to say it just in case), check to make sure your venue allows your fur babies and in what capacity. Some venues only allow pets in certain areas or at certain times during the day, and some don’t at all (boo).

include dogs in your weddinginclude dogs in your wedding

Venues may also require a designated pet handler and fee, especially if it’s indoors (we all know how it goes with dog hair). Before you decide to include your fur babies, get real with yourself–are they going to bark, bite, or defecate on people (y’all, I’ve seen it happen)? The bottom line is, no matter how much you love them, if they’re going to cause you stress on your day, it ain’t worth it. We’ll see if we can work them into photos beforehand (engagement photos, or while getting ready) or just plan on celebrating with them afterward.

Dogs at wedding

2. Make sure they’re comfy with their clothes and props.

You’ve spent how many appointments getting your dress, tux, skirt, or jumper fitted, with lots of opportunities to try on what you’ll wear on your big day. Make sure you give your fur babies the same opportunity.

Dog in Suit

To prep your pets for their important duties at your wedding, I recommend giving them their props well ahead of time. Let them prance around the house, and if possible, the venue to get a feel for their getup.

include dogs in your wedding

They’re going to be hyped up with all the people who will be present on your day, but at least they won’t be trying to paw off their little tuxes and tutus. P.S. If you plan on making your pet the ring bearer, make sure you practice with props that are…less valuable.

Rings on paws of a dog

3. Find creative ways to honor them.

Maybe you’re planning a destination wedding and your pet can’t travel, or maybe your dream venue doesn’t allow them. If your fur babies can’t be physically present, that’s a bummer, and it’s ok to feel disappointed. Once the blues pass, think of some alternative ways for them to be a part of your day.

Commission an artist to create a custom cake topper. 

Etsy is full of artists who specialize in making adorable pet cake toppers that are fairly affordable. Some are more cartoon-y and others are (creepily) realistic. Take some time to browse examples to find what best fits your wedding theme. It’s a keepsake and conversation piece you can proudly share for years to come.

Dog Cake Topper

Place a photo of them at your venue.

That way they can be there in spirit–but be sure to make it clear that your pup hasn’t passed (that would be awkward). Pick a cute photo and include a sweet note for guests to see, whether on a table, your programs, or stationery.

Embroider a memento.

If you’re going for a spunky vibe, consider getting your fur baby’s face embroidered on a pocket square, handkerchief, or socks.

include dogs in your wedding

Here are some Tahoe-local pet-friendly venues:

You can find more of my favorite local pet-friendly and non-pet-friendly haunts here!

include dogs in your wedding

Lauren Lindley is Lake Tahoe wedding photographer, also available for elopements and family portraits in the greater Northern CA Area. She also services New Orleans, LA, Dallas, TX, and Austin, TX.  Have camera: will travel.  She is available to provide services for weddings across the U.S. and worldwide. She specializes in capturing artistic portraits paired with unique storytelling moments to produce photojournalism based wedding photography with classic, clean and vibrant images.  Lauren Lindley is currently booking weddings from 2020 and 2021 in Lake Tahoe, CA and other destinations worldwide.

Not looking for summer 2020 wedding trends? You can find other wedding planning tips and resources on my blog.