Caili Helsper Photography

Who let the dogs in? If you’re like most of our couples, you view your pets as children, so of course you’d want them involved in your wedding day! How you plan to incorporate your pooch is another question and should be thought through before the wedding day. We love learning all about our couples’ furry pals so thought we would share some tips on having the best dog wedding experience. Is this an excuse to post a lot of photos of cute dogs? Possibly. Is that a problem? Definitely not.

Lily & Cameron and dog Noodles: Mark Trela Photography

Ready For Their Close Up

Including your dog in photos is a great way to allow them to have their time to shine but then they can head on home before the actual festivities begin. Plan on having a dog walker or friend (who may not be attending the wedding) bring your dog to the designated photo location. Make sure they pack treats, water, and relieve some of your dog’s energy before the photo shoot begins.

Additionally, if you or your fiancé are getting ready at home where your dog will already be, choose to have your first look here so you can incorporate your four-legged family member.

TIP: Cover your attire for the initial “hello” if your dog is a jumper. If the ground is slightly wet, make sure your dog walker brings a towel to wipe their paws and move to a solid, dry surface. There’s nothing worse than grass stains on your dress.

Anna & Walter and dog Tilly: Ed & Aileen Photography

TIP: Keep a lint roller close and ready to go! You love your dog but don’t need those pesky hairs sticking around with you all day.

Choosing The Right Handler

Ideally, you have hired a dog walker to handle your dog’s transport and care during the photos or wedding festivities. Don’t expect family or wedding party to be responsible because you want someone who doesn’t mind leaving the party quickly if an issue arises.

Even if you, your dad, or best friend walks your pup down the aisle, assign a handler that is not a family member who is prepared to hold on to the dog after they make it to the altar.

TIP: Have the dog handler give your dog a full walk before arriving onsite to get any pent up energy out and to get all their ‘business’ duties done.

Nera the dog: Brooke Alaina Photography

Anticipating Fido’s Needs

Just as you would pack things for your dog when you go on a trip, you’ll want to do the same for the wedding day. Have a water bowl nearby and even a comfy blanket or bed for your dog to relax on. Often, a dog can be more anxious in unfamiliar spaces so don’t expect them to act the same way they would at home.

TIP: If your venue allows, walk your dog around the space before the wedding day so they get used to all the sights and smells.

Lawren & Ben and dog Olive: Angela Renee Photography

Practice Makes Perfect!

Before the wedding day, have some training sessions to work on your dog’s stay and recall commands so they know perfectly how to walk (or run!) down the aisle. Practice in a public area like a park where there’s lots of people and distractions so they’ll be prepared to go through all of your guests.

TIP: Treats are a must! Especially if you are having your dog come to you instead of getting walked down, stash some treats in your pocket to make sure your dog comes directly to you. (Same rule applies for the human kind of flower girls and ring bearers!)

Jillian & David’s dog Morgan: Blake Jackson Photography
Kari and Greg’s dog Nera: Brooke Alaina Photography

TIP: If your dog isn’t used to wearing clothing or bandanas, slowly introduce them to having something around their neck or attached to their collar. Either way, we recommend putting that cute puppy flower collar on at the last minute possible before they make their entrance.

Jennifer & Frank and dog Colby: Allison Williams Photography

Of course, before you can think about having your dog a part of your wedding day, you must make sure your venue or photo location is dog-friendly. Here is a list of some Chicago dog – friendly venues to get you started. Ask questions if the dog is allowed inside for ceremony or is just able to be there for photos before the festivities begin.

Even if you can’t have your pup physically a part of your wedding day, you can still include them in special details! Table numbers, napkins, signage, you name it!

Rudi the dog as Carolyn and Dan’s cake topper, Photo by Tuan B & Co
Mallory & Lee’s Table Numbers featuring dogs of their family and friends by Design by Angelika, Ed & Aileen Photography