So, you are engaged and you want your immediate family to be there to celebrate with you… and that includes your puppy!!! Your fur child has to be there. But how do you include your dog at your elopement?
If you are anything like me… and you probably are because you are reading this post… then your dog is a huge part of your life. Your dog or your pet is an important part of your life. They are with you every day of your life, and you are the most important people in their life. They look to you for everything. You wash them, you groom them, cook for them, go out and play with them, watch tv with them and they may even sleep on your bed.
It’s easy to see why we call them our fur babies. They are part of the family and they can be like one of our children. So naturally, you would want them at your elopement.
But dogs and pets can be unpredictable and may not behave as you want them to, so it does require some consideration. But you can and should bring them to your elopement.
The main reason I am writing this post is because I have seen so many couples say to me that they wanted their dog to come to their elopement or wedding, but they just thought it would be too hard. They are such an important part of our lives and should be included and I am here to tell you that is really possible to include your dog at your elopement.
So to help plan your perfect elopement, here are some practical and useful tips and advice on how to make that happen and how to include them in your elopement.
It’s your elopement
Firstly, I have to say that it is your elopement. If you want them there, then you can make it happen. It is as simple as that. If your dog is important to you, you can make them a priority and have them attend your elopement in some way.
The beauty of elopements is that there are no rules on how you have to do it. Well, the only rule is that if you want to make it legal it has to be performed by a registered marriage celebrant. But other than that, You can have your elopement just about anywhere and you can have your pet there with you.
How will the elopement experience be for your dog?
How will they react and behave at your elopement is the million dollar question, that only you probably know the answer to. Every dog is different and only you know their personalities.
And it is their individual personality that will dictate how long your dog is there for and what role they have at your wedding.
Will they sit obediently and watch the ceremony, will they try to constantly hide or shake because everything is different. Will they bark and try to jump on everyone. Only you really know how they will react.
I have seen some dogs roam around day and night at a venue and be wonderful additions to the elopement. And I have seen dogs that look so anxious and overwhelmed by the whole event.
Your dog can come to part of the day or the whole day. It is totally up to you.
Check with your elopement venue or location
Before you book anything in, just check what their rules are with dogs and pets. Some venues are totally pet friendly and will allow your dog to roam freely. Others will allow your dog around on leash, and they must be supervised the entire time. Other venues and locations will just not allow them at all.
National Parks in Australia do not allow dogs or pets at all. This is to protect the native Australian animals, plants and habitats around these beautiful areas. Dogs may inadvertently scare or stress native wildlife or introduce disease into the area. Under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act, dogs are not permitted in Commonwealth National Parks.
Guide dogs and assistance dogs may be brought into the parks but they must be kept on a leash at all times.
State forests, Council Parks, Recreation Areas and some Conservation Parks will allow dogs and pets, but it is important to check first before you book anything. Dogs will probably have to remain on a leash and there also may be specific areas where they are allowed to go.
Some private venue who are not used to dogs or animals at their property may be hesitant to allow them. Here are a few tips to getting that permission and to assure them that you are a responsible dog owner:
- Assure them that someone will be dedicated to supervising your dog at all times.
- It will always remain in a short leash.
- Any waste will be picked up and disposed of immediately.
Drain some energy from your dog before the ceremony
Not draining energy from your dog is one of the biggest mistakes I see couples make all the time. And it leads to dogs acting up, jumping and barking before, during and after the ceremony.
Dogs have lots of energy and they need exercise. If you don’t give them this exercise then they will have all this built up energy that they want to get rid of. Put them in a situation where there are new people, new surroundings and some level of excitement and they can get extremely excited and a little crazy.
So my advice would be to get someone to give your dog some high energy play or to take your dog for a long walk before the ceremony. Get your dog huffing and puffing a bit. It is even better if you did this yourself as you will be creating a beautiful memory of what you did together before the ceremony. Spend some time together as a couple playing and exercising your dog. It would also be awesome if your photographer captured this as well.
How long you do this for depends entirely on your dog and how fit and energetic they are. But for an average dog, walk for about an hour. Or throw a ball for them till you can tell that they are running out of steam.
Once you get rid of this energy, you will get a much more relaxed dog who is more likely to just want to lie down and chill.
Wedding attire for your dog
Dress your dog up or don’t dress your dog up, it is totally up to you. Dog wedding clothes are a personal choice and certainly not necessary.
You can get full-blown doggy dresses, full body formal outfits with hats and shoes. But dogs generally don’t like this and unless you have trained them from an early age to dress in clothes, they will normally just try to shake them or scratch them off.
I often see a more subtle collar tuxedo or bow tie for boy dogs and a floral or green vine collar for girls. Often less is more with dressing dogs up for weddings.
The ‘Best Dog’
Have your dog as your ‘Best Dog’ or “Dog of Honour”. So instead of having a traditional wedding party with a ‘best or person of honour’ you can have your dog.
It is not a crazy or unusual idea. If fact, it makes more sense to me that you would have your dog, who lives with you and loves you unconditionally, stand next to you, than it does for you to have your friends. Because, yes I think the wedding party, bridal party, whatever you want to call it… is an outdated and antiquated tradition that we shouldn’t be doing anymore.
We have photographed many weddings and elopements where this has happened and it is just beautiful. They say that a dog is ‘mans best friend’ so let them stand by your side as you say your vows.
Doggy Ring Bearer for your elopement
You have probably seen it in movies or even just heard of it happening at weddings, but having your dog as the ring bearer is just darn cute. It is a huge “Awww moment”. You know… that moment at a wedding where everyone just say “awwwwww, isn’t that just adorable?”
Another way to include your dog into your elopement is to include them in your wedding vows. When you say your vows to each other make a little promise or commitment to your puppy as well. You are a doggy parent after all. And as you make a commitment to each other it can be nice to make a commitment to keep loving and looking after your puppy.
Witness Your Elopement
This is more of a fun, crazy fact than a tip. But in the United States of America, there are some states that allow your dog to act as a witness to your marriage ceremony. Yes, they can sign your marriage certificate with a paw print.
Unfortunately your dog can’t act as a legal witness in Australia. In Australia, you need two witnesses over the age of 18.
Get a family photo with your dog
If you are bringing your dog to your elopement, don’t forget to get a nice family photo of you all. If you aren’t able to have your dog at your actual marriage ceremony, you can still meet up with them and take a few photos with them.
I have photographed many weddings and elopements where the couple couldn’t have their dog with them for the ceremony. Organise someone to pick up your dog and they can meet you somewhere for a few photos. It may be extra work involved, but if you consider your dog to be part of the family, then you know it will be totally worth it.
Hire a professional to help look after your dog for your elopement
If you know that it will be hard work to get married and look after your dog, or you can see it adding unnecessary stress to your day, then hire a professional. Yes, there are professional dog services dedicated to weddings that will pamper and look after your dog the entire time.
If there isn’t one in your city or town, you can ask a professional dog walker or dog sitter and see if they are interested.
Some of the benefits of a professional dog service include:
- They can transport your dog to and from your wedding ceremony and or the photo session.
- They can dress your dog for the ceremony.
- Supervise your dog throughout the ceremony if necessary.
- Assist during the photo session.
- Assist with your dog’s role during the wedding.
- Provide walks pre and post-ceremony.
- They will pick up and dispose of your dogs waste.
- Feed them.
- Dog sit.
- Overnight stays.
- Give them lots of attention.
Pet Safety for your Elopement
There are a couple of pet and dog safety issues I feel we really need to be aware of here in Australia. Especially if you are having an elopement in the country or in the Australian bush.
The last thing you want at your elopement is a potential emergency for your pet.
Protection from the heat for your dog
Australia can get extremely hot, especially in summer. Depending on the state you get married in, it can reach temperatures in the high 30s and even 40s. The Australian heat can actually get really dangerous for your puppy. Overheating in your dog is serious and potentially fatal. It can happen quicker than you think and the warning signs can be quite subtle.
Remember, dogs don’t sweat like us humans do, they cool down by their rapid open-mouth panting. But sometimes the panting is not enough. So look after your dog and remember about the heat.
Provide them with shade and make sure you carry and give your dog plenty of water. Also, don’t dress them in clothes if the temperature if hot. If you are worried about your dog on a really hot day you can also pour water over them to get their body temperature down, take them for a swim or get them into some air-conditioning or in front of a fan.
The deadly paralysis tick is the one creature that all Australian dog owners should be acutely aware of. Particularly if you live or are having your elopement on the east coast of Australia.
There are about 70 different types of ticks in Australia. They feed on animal or human blood and attached themselves with their mouth into the skin. They can cause allergic reactions, skin reactions and they transmit diseases. There are to two ways of saying this, but the paralysis tick can kill your dog. They get into your dog’s fur, and they are very difficult to find. They suck their blood and make them extremely sick. Approximately 500 dogs die each year in Australia from the tick bite.
The paralysis tick is found up in Northern Queensland all the way down to Victoria and it is the most common tick on the east coast. Spring, through Summer and until Autumn is main tick season. But if you are in Sydney, you will get them all year around.
So please be aware of ticks, especially if you are having your elopement on the east coast. They are found in bushland areas and beach areas… which is basically what Australia is.
Symptoms of a paralysis tick
Because the ticks hide in your dogs fur, it can be difficult to see and find. The tick starts small and will spend time sucking blood before injecting enough toxins to show symptoms of illness.
- Your dog starts walking funny, especially the hind legs. Starts walking like they are drunk.
- The bark changes in tone.
- Your dogs starts to have difficulty breathing.
- Vomiting and coughing.
- Paralysis leading to respiratory failure.
If you have your elopement in a bush or beach area on the east coast of Australia, please thoroughly check your dogs body for ticks that evening. If you find a tick, carefully remove it to ensure the head and mouthpieces come out.
There are also some tick repellants that you can put on your dog’s fur but always talk to your vet before using these products.
I have seen snakes on wedding days. Only Red Belly Black Snakes. Thankfully never a Brown Snake. But if you are eloping anywhere in the country or bush, just be aware that there are snakes around.
Dogs are particularly susceptible to snake bites. So keep an eye on your puppy and don’t let them wander off and explore areas that you aren’t familiar with. Or even better, keep them with someone on a leash especially when in snake habitat.
Your dog in the wedding details
Sometimes your dog just can’t be at your elopement or wedding for whatever reason. But you can still have their likeness in the details of the day. You can have photos of your dog at your elopement. You can include your dog’s likeness in doggy cufflinks, lockets, stationery, socks or even a design on the inside jacket lining or even get a tattoo!
This couple below, were Aussie’s living in Canada but they had their wedding in Australia. But due to the long quarantine period and travel, they couldn’t bring their beloved puppy. So they did a life-size cardboard cutout of their dog and had it at their reception.
Doggy Wedding Cake
Incorporating your dog onto your wedding cake or wedding cake topper is another way to include them at your elopement. It is also a really easy way to include their likeness in your wedding.
You can do it
I really hope this article has shown you that it is totally possible to have your puppy dog at your elopement. There are a few things to consider but it is totally worth it to have them with you at your elopement. If you consider them part of your family, then all you need to do is to choose to have them there and you can make it happen.
And if you really just can’t have them at your elopement, there area number of ways to have their presence still there with you.