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Dogs + Weddings – Should We or Shouldn’t We?

You are getting ready to marry your Best Friend, and wondering if “man’s best friend” – your furry four legged family member, should be there to witness the big event!  As a wedding planner, and a dedicated pet mom, I feel like I have a few helpful thoughts to consider when making this decision…

These pictures are ah-mazing right!  Well behaved and adorable dogs dressed in finery and posing perfectly for the camera – who wouldn’t want that?!


Here’s the thing, I think in the end your wedding day should be about you marrying the love of your life!  There will already be so many stresses and distractions on the wedding day itself, it bears considering whether you really want to add in a whole other set of variables and considerations.  Things like – who will be in charge of my pet during the event? How will our formal wear handle being jumped on, or having paws on it?  Who will watch our pet for the entire duration of the day?  How will our pet do during the ceremony, when he is close to us, but not allowed to be right near us (for example if he is in the front row with his handler, or being held by the best man?)   Things to ask yourselves:

  • Does our pet handle new situations and new locations well?
  • Does our pet handle large crowds well?
  • Does our pet handle being separated from us well?
  • Is our pet well trained enough to remain inside if someone leaves an exterior door open?
  • Can our pet handle distractions during the wedding ceremony itself?
  • Do we have someone we can count on to be with our pet for the entire day?


Your pet will proudly walk down the aisle and quietly sit with his handler while watching you get married.


Your pet will run down the aisle and bark excitedly.  He will be so happy to see you, that he will pull with all his might to get to you, and either bride or groom will end up holding the leash during the ceremony. Your attention will now be divided between saying your vows and handling your pup, while you try to get untangled from the leash.


Your pet will be calm and chill at the event, just like he is at home.


There will be a ton of excitement in the air and your dog will pick up on this.  The door to the venue will constantly be opening and closing, and many times accidentally left open by guests.  There are several ponds on our property and a busy road nearby, these could be safety hazards to a pup that has decided to roam in this unfamiliar environment.


Our solution.  We think having the best of both worlds is the way to go.  If you have thought about the above considerations, and are really set on having your furry friend join you, let it be for a finite amount of time. Although our venue is not pet friendly in terms of having your dog onsite for the ceremony or reception, you are welcome to have your pet brought to the venue for 30 minutes to participate in photos.  This allows you to capture the special memories of your big day, with your pup included, but the AVOID the stress and unpredictability of having your pet onsite in an unfamiliar environment on a really busy and emotionally charged day.  Most couples who choose this option will pick accommodations at a nearby pet friendly cabin (Such as Lydia Mountain Lodge which is about 10 minutes drive from us) and have a groomsman or family member bring the pet by during cocktail hour for photos and drop him back to the safely of his accommodations prior to dinner.

If you prefer to honor your pet and their special place in your family on your wedding day, without having them onsite, there are LOTS of cute ways to do that as well! Check out what Alicia and Erick did – dress your cutie up in their finery, and bring their photo with you to display on your big day!  This “cat in a tuxedo” is still one of my favorite pictures ever – I’m pretty sure the cat does not feel the same way!  Other couples include their pets in their cake topper, or name signature drinks after them, or include them on the wedding stationary like the adorable examples below!


I hope these tips are helpful for you in the decision making process.  It’s a really big day, and there are no do-over’s, so we truly feel the best decision is to introduce as few variables as possible, and leave your pet safe, calm and happy at home.  Couples considering ways to include their pets in their GHI Wedding Day, are welcome to discuss ideas with their planner!

And to conclude, a few pictures of my own sweet babies – Grover and Tilly who wish you the best wedding day ever!


-xoxo Heather


Featured In

Magazine May / June 2021 Issue