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  • Pauline Marston

When Love is a Four-legged Thing



We surround ourselves with our loved ones when we celebrate rites of passage. The end of a life, the joining together of two lives at a wedding, or the celebration of other significant moments, such as baby naming ceremonies or wedding vow renewals. For many of us, none are more loved than our pets who share our lives, especially our dogs. Day in, day out, relying on us, entertaining us, making us take exercise and generally providing unconditional adoration, whether we deserve it or not.


So, can Fido be included in your ceremony? Clearly, many of us want the answer to be yes, but let us first give some thought to considerations to be made.


  • Does the venue welcome dogs? Speak to the event planner at the venue of your choice to make sure they welcome dogs and can provide somewhere for him to be taken to relieve himself. Garden, barn and outdoor venues are more likely to welcome them than some inner city hotels for example, but do check. Some hotels may surprise you (in a good way!)

  • Is your dog relaxed in human company? Remember that emotions will be running high. There could be loud clapping, laughing and other noises, possibly fireworks. A stressed dog is not a happy dog. Even if you really want your dog to be there, ask yourself if it is fair on this particular dog.

  • Does your dog have a tendency to jump up people? That may not go down well with guests dressed in their finery.

  • Is your dog used to young children? Again, their safety and that of your dog is very important.

  • Does your dog have a penchant for wedding cake and other treats that will be lying around and that could be harmful for a dog who can’t resist the opportunity for a tasty sneaky snack?

  • Can someone else take responsibility for your dog during and after the ceremony? This is your day, and you will have much to focus on and many distractions. Can you nominate a trusted friend or relative to make sure that your dog is properly looked after? Or can someone bring him along for the ceremony and photos and then take him away again?

If all seems well in terms of the dog’s welfare, how about properly including him in the ceremony? Can you train him to be a ring-bearer, carrying it boxed and in a basket perhaps? (Even with the most highly trained hound, it may be best to carry a dummy in the basket and discretely switch for the real thing when it reaches the happy couple:))


So after considering these things, hopefully Fido will be receiving an invitation. If that was the case with you, I’d love to see your pictures.


If having your dog present is not possible because of its temperament or venue restrictions, you can still include him in the pre-wedding shoot or engagement photos, in the knowledge that he will be tucked up safe and away from potential harm during the event itself.


Of course, other animals can also have their place at ceremonies. How about the bride arriving at her wedding on horseback? (beware helmet hair!!) or a shetland pony, pair of donkeys or your friendly alpaca stealing the show in the photographs?


Animal lovers generally may like to check out some interesting venues where animals are part of the scenery - such as the Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth, which enables you to support the charity as well as making use of their unique facilities and fantastic food. Or perhaps a tented reception in Repton Park, on the rewilded Knepp estate in West Sussex, overlooking Springwood Pond. It is said to be ‘fresh and unusual, close to nature and surrounded by free-roaming grazing animals’.


Photo credit: Brook Rose Photography

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