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The Times
  • Wedding tails: The best ways to include pets in your wedding

  • For some brides and grooms, the wedding day wouldn’t be complete without their friends and family members on hand to share the occasion, and for more and more couples, that includes their furry companions. Wedding planners and animal trainers agree that dogs can add a special touch to a wedding — provided, that is, you plan ahead to cover your pet’s needs and those of your guests.

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  • For some brides and grooms, the wedding day wouldn’t be complete without their friends and family members on hand to share the occasion, and for more and more couples, that includes their furry companions. Wedding planners and animal trainers agree that dogs can add a special touch to a wedding — provided, that is, you plan ahead to cover your pet’s needs and those of your guests.
    1. First, make sure the venue is pet-friendly, says Jaime Van Wye, founder of Zoom Room, a dog agility training franchise, and a dog trainer. Van Wye points out that most churches won’t allow animals, and it is unlikely restaurants will permit them, either, during the reception, because of health laws. She says the best option is to include your pet in an outside ceremony, then have someone take the pet back home or to a kennel while the reception is taking place. “I would not have the pet at the reception,” Van Wye says.
    2. Have a designated person be responsible for the pet during the entire ceremony, aside from the bride or groom, advises Ericka Nelson, general manager of Klimpton’s The Muse New York hotel, which is pet-friendly and has hosted a dog bridal shower. “You need someone there to take responsibility to make sure there are no interruptions,” Nelson says. The designated person should be familiar with the dog.
    3. Remember details, says Los Angeles-based wedding planner Wayne Gurnick of Moments by Wayne. Don’t forget to bring water and food, a leash for the dog to be restrained at all times, bedding, crate for transport and any other items that will comfort and relax your pet, he says. Nelson adds that the dog attendant should have plenty of treats in his or her pocket to calm the dog, and doggie pads may be necessary in the event nature should call at an inopportune moment.
    4. If you plan on dressing the dog as part of the ceremony, have several rehearsals ahead of time to get the dog used to wearing a tux or hat, Van Wye says. If your dog refuses to wear a full outfit, she says, a bow tie could be a good option.
    5. Gurnick says if the dog will be pulling a cart holding the flower girl or the rings, the best man or one of the ushers should walk the dog down the aisle or guide it. Because pets can be unpredictable, particularly in the midst of a large crowd, he suggests substituting a “pretend” ring in lieu of a real ring.
    6. Know your dog and guests. “You need to be sensitive to other peoples’ allergies and fears,” Van Wye says. Nelson adds that if your dog is rowdy and unpredictable, it is best left at home.
    7. Last of all, expect the unexpected. “There are so many things that could happen. Be prepared to laugh and think of it as part of your day,” Nelson says.
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