Dogs as Ring Bearers: Novel or Weird?

groom and bride playing with their dog labrador at home.

If a wedding party includes relatives you haven’t seen in years and might never see again, why shouldn’t it include your furry loved ones? A well-trained dog is part of your family, but note the emphasis on “well-trained.” You want your pet to enhance the day, not necessarily ruin it with bad behavior.

Ring bearers

If you want your dog to participate in the ceremony, the most common role is as ring bearer. One idea is having the dog — accompanied by a familiar handler — wear the rings in a box on his back. A Tiffany box fills the bill. If your dog puts up with it, you might have him wear a bow tie or even a tuxedo shirt and top hat. For a female dog, a jeweled or floral collar is a nice touch. She could wear a veil modeled to match the bride. Just make sure ahead of time that your dog won’t chew or try to destroy the chosen wedding finery. No matter the attire, dogs should be leashed at all times. No matter how well-behaved, your dog should never run loose.

Part of the processional

If your pet doesn’t have the temperament for a ring bearer — or if you have small children to assume that role — make it part of the processional. That’s easier on your pet, and it’s still a great way to include them. Because it’s you and your new spouse’s day, always have someone available to walk your dog or step in if the event becomes overwhelming.

Canine considerations

If your dog is young and active, make sure he gets plenty of exercise prior to the ceremony. A tired dog is a good dog. Arrange for someone to take him home, to a boarding kennel or back to your pet-friendly hotel after the ceremony and photos. A reception is no place for a dog, and unless he’s a service animal, is probably against the law in the establishment.

Bring all his supplies along with him. In addition to a leash, collar and/or harness, that includes the following:

  • Water bowl
  • Bottled water if tap water is unavailable
  • Food and bowl, if necessary
  • Bed
  • Toy or chewy
  • Dog waste disposal bags

Have him bathed and groomed prior to the ceremony. That’s not just so he looks nice, but recent bathing can keep dander down in case any of your guests are allergic.

Weddings on horseback

If two equestrians tie the knot, or even one equestrian and a non-rider, consider holding a wedding on horseback. Of course, that only makes sense if your horses are relatively calm and used to crowds. There are drawbacks to a wedding on horseback, so take these into consideration before taking the plunge. Remember the odds are good that sometime before, during or after the ceremony, a horse will defecate, urinate or flatulate.

A horse may also slobber all over the bride or groom’s clothing, or a member of the wedding party. For that reason, anyone involved in the ceremony should avoid getting too close to a horse until actually mounting. Because horses are prey animals, it’s crucial to practice getting on and off the animal in a dress the similar size and color of the wedding garment. Your horse may act just fine when you ride him in jeans or breeches, but getting on your horse with a long, puffy dress might make it head for the hills.

Feline friends

Most cats aren’t keen on large gatherings in strange places. Wedding vendors working with pets in ceremonies rarely have couples who want to include the cat in the actual ceremony, but there are ways to include kitty in your special day. If you think your cat could prove cooperative at your wedding, see how it goes at dress rehearsal first. If your cat is amenable, give it a go, but plan accordingly. You don’t want to deal with a panic attack, scratching or an escape attempt.

Another option is including your cat in the photos taken prior to the wedding. A photographer’s studio is much more relaxed, and the pictures prove your pet is part of the family.

Enjoy your wedding day with all the people and creatures that enrich your lives.
—Jane Meggitt

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