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WEDDING DAY DOG ASSISTANCE
Wedding Day Assistance for Your Dog!
offers handling services to ensure your dog is well cared for on your special day. Represented Certified Professional Dog Trainer and former Wedding Coordinator, chqdogs is the ideal pick to ensure your dog is comfortable during what can be a chaotic day. With your dog(s) in good hands, you and your human soul-mate can enjoy the festivities and the company of your guests!
May 20, 2018 |
“April showers bring May flowers... and what do Mayflowers bring?” As a former event coordinator, my answer tends to be “June Brides" not pilgrims. Besides, who would want to skip the spring, summer and fall beauty in Western New York straight cold, wet November anyway?!
Between 2013 & 2017 I coordinated scores of weddings, and even got hitched myself. Having our dog at our wedding was extremely important to my husband and I, as well as several couples I helped over the years. This dog-blog shares my first hand wedding-dog experiences as well as what I observed regarding dogs at weddings in Chautauqua. Read this if you are trying to decide if, and how to have your dog(s) at your wedding. Ask yourself some key questions, like the ones outlined below, and keep in mind that it might simply be best to make other arrangements for your furbaby that day. A wedding can be too much for some dogs.
Make sure you have your venue’s permission to have your dog there on the big day. The manager of our venue was adamant that our dog would not be allowed inside the building (not even the porch), which was the rain plan for the ceremony. We lucked out with a beautiful mid-October day and had our then 4 year old husky-shepherd mix Lux at the ceremony by willow trees on Chautauqua Lake.
Had the weather not cooperated, Lux would have just stayed home, a mere 3 miles from our venue. (I had traveled to CA, CO, & NC for weddings in the 3 years leading up to ours - so I was happy to keep the travel to a minimum!)
Q: Who will take care of the dog on the wedding day?
While I was en route to our venue after getting dolled up with my bridesmaids, my brother was kind enough to go to go to my soon-to-be in-laws’ house to pick up Lux before the ceremony. Before the bridesmaids made their entrance, my brother walked Lux down the aisle, but it was less than perfect. First of all, my brother was a guest. In retrospect, it was not fair to ask this of a guest. When you plan a special event, so much consideration and effort goes in to making sure all of your guests have a great, stress-free time.
A few years later, one of the couples I helped with a wedding weekend in Chautauqua had brought their dog along. Seeing their stress escalate as the rehearsal dinner was winding down, I offered to take their dog for a walk. At that point I had not yet started chqdogs, and it seemed that the couple didn’t realize how difficult it would be to mingle with guests plus take care of their dog at the same time. They were grateful that someone that knew their way around the property could get their dog away from the chaos for some much needed exercise. This also allowed the couple to focus on the guests that had traveled great distances to attend.
The following day, which was their actual wedding day, bridesmaids were reluctantly taking turns holding the dog's leash. According to these bridesmaids, they had not been asked about this task in advance, and they were not happy about it. Upon checking on the hors d’ oeuvres table, I saw more than one guest tossing copious amounts of shrimp to the dog as the bridesmaid ignored the whole thing. Too much of that rich food could make a dog's tummy upset! I'm pretty sure most couple's wedding night plans do not include cleaning up after a sick dog!
Q: What gear should I plan to have at the venue for my dog?
Back in 2013, I didn’t know much about how a quality harness can make dog walking so much easier. Lux was nearly choking herself on her flat collar as she pulled my brother down the aisle.
If you are planning to have your dog wear something special, practice gradually desensitizing them to the item in the months leading up to the wedding. Keep it simple, and if it's too hot, don’t be too married to the idea. Be sure that your dog has access to fresh water and gets fed - it can be easier to lose track of this than you might think - the day goes by so fast!
Q: When will the dog be fed and transported?
Remember to include your dog details in your master wedding timeline. The couple often doesn’t realize just how busy they will be - to the point that they themselves can forget to eat! Make sure your dog’s meals, walks, arrival and departure times are part of the schedule. My husband says he doesn’t remember if our girl got any walks that day. This does not equal happy wife, happy life...
A wedding can be a stressful social situation for a lot of humans. Now imagine only being as tall as someone’s knee, everyone ogling over you but they get extra mad when you try to greet them and put your paws on their nice clothes, plus they all speak another language. In the animal kingdom, too much stress is dealt with through flight, freeze or fight. For some dogs this can mean bite! It might just be the event planner in me that often follows: “hope for the best, plan for the worst”.
When chqdogs handles dogs for a wedding, I often take the dogs for a long walk after the ceremony, then do some brief visits during cocktail hour if it’s not too crowded. During one particular cocktail hour, the guests included young children, the father of whom insisted that the kids loved the dogs and they saw each other all the time. As the children began to run around rambunctiously, I saw one of the dogs start to lift a paw, which can be a stress signal in dogs. Even though the father of the children further insisted they were fine, I trusted my dog-trainer instincts and chose to remove the dogs from the situation without incident.
Q: Why are we considering having the dog at or in the wedding?
When deciding whether or not to have your four legged (or three legged if your dog is a tripod) family member there when you tie the knot, think about your dog’s ability to handle this unique situation as well as the reliability of with whom you’ve entrusted for their care (during an open bar!). Keep in mind that each of your guests that will want a moment of your time, and the day goes by faster than you can imagine. A friend or family member may have good intentions, but sometimes that isn’t enough. Make sure you have a solid and reliable plan, plus a back up plan in place.
With nearly a decade in event coordination and passion for working with I dogs have found a unique niche in helping couples with their dogs on their wedding day. Knowing what to expect from everything like pre-wedding jitters to over-intoxicated guests along with experiences with a variety of cultural traditions and wedding situations help me to be capable of caring for dogs on that busy day. Prior to the event we have a preliminary meet and greet to allow all of us to get acquainted and review where your dog fits into the timeline.
The “C” in chqdogs is for customized, but here is a general schedule and the tasks I handle for weddings: couples often schedule chqdogs to arrive a few hours before the ceremony. The dog is sometimes with the bride & bridesmaids while they finish up with hair and makeup. Brides are relieved when I arrive and take the dog for a much needed walk. chqdogs arrives equipped with several handy tools including a doggie first aid kit, reliable leash, squeaky toys, suitable treats, poop bags, water, a collapsible bowl and even a push button umbrella that is handy for all sorts of emergencies! For even extra measure, chqdogs is insured to handle and transport dogs.
Sometimes couples want the dog back in time for first look photos (this is where the squeaky toys come in handy!), other times the dog’s leash is handed over to a designated wedding party member right before they walk down the aisle. I swoop back in to pick up dog-duty (and yes, dog doodie) while the wedding party takes more photos. The dogs then make an appearance at the cocktail hour, and congratulate the newlyweds (careful not to jump up as not to get paw prints on the gown!) and say goodnight as the couple spends the rest of the evening celebrating with their guests.
Best of luck and congratulations to everyone planning a wedding in the near future!
Carly Davis, CPDT-KA