Singaporebrides | Weddings 101

August 2012

Should Your Dog Come To Your Wedding?

For some brides and grooms, their Big Day wouldn’t be complete without their furry friends. And it is possible to plan a pet-friendly bash – even in Singapore. SingaporeBrides lists canine practical tips to add “woof!” to your wedding.

#1: Consider your dog’s temperament

Including your dog in the wedding celebrations sounds like great fun. But do stop to ask yourself whether your dog is suited to be around a happy, boisterous crowd? Claire de Souza, founder and dog trainer at Playful Paws, explains: “Having your dog at your wedding is something to be proud of, especially if he or she is well-behaved and adorable.” But what if they’re not? “Your guests – both adults and children – are likely to reach out and pat your dog. If your dog tends to shy away from or snap at a stranger’s touch, he or she may not be able to adapt well to the situations that may crop up at the wedding.”

#2: Find a pet-friendly venue

In Singapore, most hotels and restaurants have a no-pets-allowed rule. This has to do with the fact that F&B establishments have to adhere to strict hygiene standards. So, plan an outdoor wedding, where you can include your dog in the ceremony and then have someone bring him or her home after that. Check with outdoor venues like parks, gardens and restaurants with alfresco settings whether they can accommodate a dog for a few hours. Rachael Mok, PR and marcom manager at Hotel Fort Canning, shares: “Hotel Fort Canning is unique because we have a Garden Terrace that can accommodate pets. Recently, we received a request from a couple who hopes to have their beloved Papillon present at their ROM here, and we are always glad to consider such pets-related requests on a case-by-case basis and at the hotel’s discretion.”

#3: Delegate a dog-sitter

Once you have confirmed the venue, prep the dog. First, delegate a dog-sitter for the actual day. Preferably, this should be someone in your bridal party who is already well acquainted with your dog. Alternatively, hire a professional dog sitter. This is recommended as he or she will be able to pick up early signs of stress or anxiety in your dog. Claire advises: “The dog handler should be familiar with relevant commands like “sit”, “stay”, “heel” and “drop”, in order to keep your dog obedient throughout the wedding ceremony and celebration. He or she should also have had months of bonding with your dog – a practice session one week before the actual day is not enough.”

#4: Have a trial run (or two)

Your dog needs to get used to the smells and surroundings of your wedding venue – like the thumping music from the sound system or the pavilion you will be saying your vows in. After all, you won’t want a day filled with chaos and pandemonium just because your dog broke free and is heading straight for the dessert table. Claire suggests: “Let your dog be present at rehearsals, where the handler is holding the leash to your dog while the bridal couple stands afar. If your dog has anxiety issues, he or she may whine or bark. Also make sure that your dog is at the location during the same time as your wedding ceremony – there are different sounds and smells at different times of the day.”

#5: No dress code for your dog, please

In our hot and humid weather, it is not advisable for you to dress your pet in a thick suit or flouncy dress. This is especially true if you are planning an outdoor wedding. “The last thing you would want is for your dog to scratch the attire off. So a simple collar or a bow tie/ribbon should suffice,” says Claire. “But if it’s a new collar, let your dog get used to it first. Or, dress up the leash instead.”

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#6: Ring-bearers or flower dogs?

Most bridal couples who want to include their dogs in their weddings have them as ring-bearers or flower dogs. If you really want your dogs to perform these duties, make sure that you train them properly beforehand. However, they may not always perform to perfection on the actual day. For instance, the rings may get lost or end up being swallowed by your dog,” says Claire. So instead of having them walk down the aisle with real, expensive wedding rings, use a pair of standby rings instead. “Let your best man or maid of honour keep the actual rings until it’s time to exchange the vows.”

#7: Sort out actual day details

There are a few things you need to prepare for the actual day. First, pack a doggy bag with treats, water and toys. “With this, your dog handler will be able to make sure your dog is constantly hydrated and well-fed, while toys can serve as a useful distraction,” says Claire. “If it is going to be a long day, remember to have a bed or cushion ready for your dog to rest on. Or, keep your dog’s task short and sweet so your dog handler can take him or her home after the ceremony.” Also, take the dog on a walk before the event to help him or her expend excess energy. This is especially important if your dog is an active breed, like a Beagle or a Jack Russell Terrier. “Your pet will also be less likely to pee at a guest’s feet!” says Claire.

#8: Consider guests who might be afraid of dogs

Not everyone loves dogs, so be considerate and remember guests who may not want to get near your beloved Fluffy. Ask your dog handler to hold on the leash at all times – no off-leash race across the field should be allowed. If possible, designate certain areas at the venue that your dog handler can be with the dog safely, such as in the corner of the garden. That way, guests who prefer not to get close can stay away.

#9: Have realistic expectations

Your dog won’t be able to understand how important the wedding ceremony is to you. So even if your dog performs well during the practice sessions, he or she may well let out a whine or a bark before hundreds of guests on the actual day. Claire adds: “Be prepared for anything to go wrong on the big day. And just in case your dog is naughty, have a back-up plan, such as for the dog handler to bring the dog home.”