Who's Missing From Your Wedding Party? Your Dog!
Man's best friend is enjoying a higher profile when it comes to tying the knot. Although the trend gained steam in the easy-going West, wedding planners all over the country are seeing dogs take on key roles in the ceremony. In short, well-trained tail-waggers are showing up as ring bearers, groomsmen, maids of honor, and even assuming the role that once belonged to good ol' Dad -- giving away the bride. Dogs have become so common in weddings, many professional planners know where to book a dog handler for the day without blinking an eye. (After all, he'll need water, protection from crowds -- and a few trips to the loo.)
Gone to the Dogs?
What fuels the trend to add Fido to the ceremony? Opinions differ, but one is the way that weddings are changing: once they were a purely formal affair, with formal language and dress that hardly seemed to relate to our real lives at all. But many of today's couples are trying to bring more of the things we really say into the ceremony -- sometimes by writing our own vows -- and more of how we really look, which sometimes means bypassing the traditional white dress. And for many of us, our patient pooch is a lot like a child or a two-footed companion. He might have his own furniture, his own shelf full of tasty organic treats, his own set of smart fashion accessories. And whither we go, he goes ... just like any other family member. No wonder many couples don't think twice about bringing him to the altar.
But not every dog makes the perfect bridal party member. No matter how much you might love the mischievous antics of your wayward canine at home, it's only the well-trained, responsive dog that should share your big day. If your dog comes, sits, is good with groups, and can be relied on to hold a "down-stay," he's a candidate. If not, leave him home, or invest in some obedience classes straight away.
You'll also want to clear your pup's presence with the powers-that-be well ahead of time. Yes, it's a little surprising, but with the rising popularity of dogs in weddings, it's a fair bet that your officiant will give you the green light. Many banquet halls at hotels will also say "yes" to a well-behaved pet on your big day, provided you have a handler.
Dressed for Success
Once you've got the go-ahead, the greatest fun in including your dog is dressing him up. Popular choices for pint-sized wedding apparel include adorable jeweled collars, miniature tuxes or bridal gown, and crystal-encrusted combs and barrettes. Diane Meier Delaney of "The New American Wedding" draped her pooch in an ornate floral arrangement that literally took her guests' breath away (but discuss this option thoughtfully with your florist -- avoid poisonous flowers and steer clear of scratchy wires).
Now that you've ordered his attire and your dog's all set to work hard at your wedding, why not plan to treat him? You can purchase adorable cakes and cupcakes designed for occasions that are perfectly safe for your dog: delicious-looking confections made with wheat flour or oatmeal and bananas or honey, dripping with carob and studded with candy dog bones. Or you can make your own -- just search the net for some tested, dog-safe recipes that avoid excess fat and sugar, and pass on canine no-nos like chocolate, grapes, avocados, coffee and certain nuts.
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