By Grace Rasmus
If you’re a major dog-lover, you’ve probably thought about including your pup in your wedding day festivities. After all, who better to watch you marry the love of your life than the other (four-legged) love of your life? We spoke with Jutta Lammerts, founder of A Day Like No Other, the only wedding planner in Northern California that offers a dog-friendly wedding package, about her best tips for incorporating your dog into your big day. Read on for venue tips, advice on how to keep your dog happy throughout the day, and more.
1. Hire a professional.
If you only take one thing away from this post, make it this: You need to hire a professional to watch your dog on the big day! As tempting as it may be to save a little cash by just giving dog duty to a bridesmaid or family member, do not do it. “Everybody who is involved in the wedding has a right to enjoy the day and have fun. And I can tell you that those people will have fun — and they will forget the dog,” Jutta says. “It happens so many times and they don’t even mean ill, it just happens.” A handler can make sure Fido has enough water and attention and isn’t getting into any trouble, which will make for a happier day all around.
2. Decide exactly how you want your pup to be involved on the big day.
Before you get too far into planning, think about how exactly you see your dog being involved on the big day. Do you just want her there for cute wedding photos, or to have a special moment during the ceremony, or maybe even to share a dance during the reception? Thinking this through will help you plan accordingly with your handler and help you figure out if all venues on the itinerary need to be dog-friendly, or just a few before someone takes her back home.
3. Know your dog — and yourself!
It’s time to get honest: Is your dog really up for a wedding? Do you think he’d cooperate during the ceremony and photos? If he doesn’t, will that stress you out? Young puppies are often unpredictable, says Jutta. “They don’t have an off-switch, not even for the half hour of the ceremony.” More mellow, mature dogs, on the other hand, might be up for the task. And if you do decide to make your dog part of the big day, make sure to prime the handler with everything he or she needs to know about your pooch’s temperament and social skills ahead of time.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask about a venue’s pet policy.
Most venues are either dog-friendly or they’re not, and it’s not something you can negotiate. But, it’s always worth asking your venue about their pet policy if they don’t list it online. “Some high-end hotels that you would not expect will actually do it, albeit with pretty strict rules,” Jutta says, which might include things like how far away the dog has to be from any food. (If you’re getting married in Northern California, Jutta has a whole Rolodex of dog-friendly venues up her sleeve!) If you’re getting married on a private estate, it’s likely that “the owners can do whatever they want, so they might be open to having the dog around all day as long as the rest of the guests are fine with it.”
5. Think about who will care for your dog after the party is over.
So you’ve made sure the ceremony and reception venues are dog-friendly, but that’s not all you have to think about. Don’t forget about the night of the wedding. “Normally couples will book a posh hotel, but think about it: who will take the dog?” Jutta says. “If the dog is welcome there, who takes it there? Or if the dog isn’t welcome there, who’s making sure he gets home?” Also, make sure you’ve thought through your transportation. “You can’t just assume you can pack a dog in an Uber,” Jutta says.
6. Keep up your dog’s regular routine.
Yes, it’s a special day, which means that all bets are off when it comes to maintaining your routine. But your dog doesn’t really know what’s going on, and straying from the day-to-day too much is a recipe for an anxious pup who might start acting out. Keep the routine as close to normal as possible; the handler you hired should make sure the dog gets enough food, water, playtime and nap time. And definitely resist the urge to slip your dog some filet mignon or wedding cake, Jutta says. “Give the dog [the food] it gets every day,” she says. “If you start to experiment on that day, it could go bad!
Watch amazing weddings that A Day Like No Other has planned and contact Jutta here.