How do you feel about dogs being part of a wedding ceremony?  If you’re a dog person, you’re probably thinking, “Great idea!” If you aren’t, it’s apparently like suggesting that aardvarks or squirrels be included in the wedding party. A likely response is, “Why on earth would anyone want to do that?“ From personal experience, I can tell you why.

Photo: Morgan Yang

Photo: Morgan Yang

My son and his beloved are crazy about Jack, their Bichon Frise,so when they told me they were engaged, I joked, “I can’t wait to see Jack in a tux!” Little did I know that the kids wouldn’t dream of getting married without including not only Jack, but Jack’s “Uncle” Max, the Bichon belonging to the bride’s parents. Both dogs, wearing tuxes, would be part of the ceremony. Max, the older and better behaved of the two, would be the ring bearer. Jack would be the “flower dog.”

When my son told me that Jack and Max would be members of the wedding party, I thought it quirky but adorable something that would make the ceremony uniquely theirs. My ex, who was footing the bill for the otherwise traditional shindig (and who is not a dog person), was less enthusiastic at first, but soon came around. He loves the kids enough to want to give them exactly the wedding they wanted. 

Telling folks that your son’s wedding will include four-legged participants is a litmus test for discovering how they feel about companion animals. People who see their own pets as “family” were charmed and delighted. “Wonderful!“ they enthused. “Tell me all about it.“  But people who don’t much care for dogs were repulsed. “That‘s  weird,” was not an unusual response.  I was also told that including Jack and Max was “offensive,” “disrespectful” and “ridiculous.”  

Photo: Morgan Yang

When I told one friend that the kids were not only planning on a canine-inclusive ceremony but also planned to have a dog-themed wedding cake, she joked, “Better put plenty of nuts on it!“ As far as she was concerned, including the dogs at all, let alone putting them on the cake, was just a nutty an idea. Luckily, we’re not that close so she wasn’t invited. I hoped the nobody who WAS invited would be dismayed or repulsed by the sight of two beloved dogs in formal attire trotting down the aisle.

But what if they were? Tom and Amy love those dogs and it’s their wedding. The ceremony should reflect who they are as a couple (dog lovers!) and what matters to them (Living happily ever after — with Bichons!) and not be about the comfort level of my friends. 

Sure, a canine-inclusive ceremony used to be unheard of, but things are changing. Google “dogs in weddings” and you’ll find dozens of photos. Bulldogs in tuxes. Poodles in veils. Labradoodles wearing garlands of flowers. A beaming bride carrying an impeccably groomed Yorkie down the aisle in a small white basket.

The way I saw it, meeting the challenge of pulling off a wedding that included Jack and Max would bode well for Tom and Amy’s ability to meet the many challenges of married life. A wedding ceremony that ran smoothly despite the presence of two lively dogs would be a small miracle. But so is any loving, enduring marriage. And what mother doesn’t want that for her kids?

“Are the dogs well-behaved?” one dog-savvy friend asked me.

“One of them is,” I told her. Max, the older dog, is a perfect gentleman. Jack, the younger dog, is more mischievous.

She laughed. “Well, it should be memorable.”

And so it was. Unique, memorable and joyful. As mother of the groom and “grandmother” of the flower dog, I had the time of my life.

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  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. July 17, 2011 at 10:14 am

    How wonderful that you had jewelry with memories to bring with you on this special day.

    I am thrilled that the dress is returning after years of separates.


  • Roz Warren July 16, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Thanks for asking. I wore a perfectly lovely blue knee length Ann Taylor dress with the pearls my Dad brought me back from Hong Kong years ago. And the beautiful diamond ring I inherited from my mother, which I wear on any occasion that I know she’d want to be a part of.

  • Dr. Patricia Yarberry Allen July 16, 2011 at 8:28 am

    I love the description of this wedding, Roz. I am certain that the dogs were better behaved than many children I have seen in wedding parties.

    Since it is common for celebutants who marry for the 5th or 6th time, to march down a church aisle in a white wedding gown with a train, it is clear that there are no “standards” for wedding etiquette anymore.

    Thank you for this charming and uplifting blog. It made my morning. Just one tiny question. What did you wear?

    Dr. Pat