A Guide for Bringing Your Dog to Your Elopement

A golden retriever posing for wedding pictures

Your wedding day is one of the most special days of your life, and it’s only natural that you want your furry friend to be a part of it. Bringing your dog to your elopement can add an extra dose of love and joy but requires some consideration to make sure everything goes off without a hitch (while you’re getting hitched).

Here are a few reasons why you might want to bring your dog to your elopement and some practical tips to make it a successful experience.

The Benefits Of A Dog-Friendly Elopement

Having Your Ultimate BFF At Your Wedding: Your dog has been with you through it all, right? In some cases long before you ever met your fiance. It’s only natural to want them to participate in this huge change in your life. Their presence can provide comfort, support, and endless love on your wedding day.

Symbolic Representation: Including your dog in your elopement can symbolize the unity and importance of your family, especially if you’ve decided to elope with just the two of you and no guests. It’s a beautiful way to express your commitment to each other and your bond with your furry friend.

Unique Photo Opportunities: Let’s not forget the incredible photo opportunities that come with including your dog in your elopement. Some of my favorite images are of couples with their dog! Posed pictures are magical, but even those little moments where the dog does something adorable and funny that no one expected (like rolling onto their back during a family picture and kicking their legs in the air) are worth remembering and capturing. Candid dog photos for the win!

a dog next to a bride on her elopement day

Considerations for Bringing Your Dog

Venue Policies: If you’re eloping in the wilderness this may not be an issue as many national parks and forests will allow leashed dogs, but there are some that don’t so always check those policies and adjust accordingly. Your elopement photographer will often know of locations that will allow your pet.

Dog’s Temperament: Consider your dog’s temperament and personality. If your dog is comfortable around crowds, noise, and unfamiliar environments, they may be a good fit for your elopement. However, if your dog is anxious or easily stressed, it may be best to leave them in the care of a trusted friend or a professional pet sitter.

Safety and Comfort: Your dog’s safety and comfort should be a top priority. Consider their ability to hike to your chosen location especially if you have an older dog or one with any medical illness that might make hiking or long walks difficult. (unless they’re small enough to carry!) Always bring enough water and adjust your plans if the weather turns either too hot or too cold. Dogs can be sensitive to heat so if you’re getting married in the middle of summer in a hot location this can be a serious concern.

Leash and Harness: Keep your dog on a leash and collar, but if you need to use a harness for control then be ready to remove that harness for photos and use only a regular collar and leash. Harnesses can be useful they don’t look especially pleasing in a picture and can be a distraction.

bringing your dog to your elopement

The Most Important Tip

Assign a Dog-handler: It’s essential to assign someone you trust to be the designated dog-handler throughout the day. This person can take care of your dog’s needs, keep them entertained, and handle any logistical issues that may arise. Maybe this is a friend or relative that’s attending your elopement, but your photographer may also have recommendations. I offer my couples the option of hiring a handler, as an add-on to their photography service, to be on exclusive leash holding duty when needed! This is useful if you are eloping just the two of you, but also if you don’t want to ask your guests to watch after your dog.

a couple eloping with their four dogs

Having A Successful Dog-Inclusive Elopement

Time Your Dog’s Participation: Plan your dog’s involvement during specific parts of your elopement, such as being with you as you say your vows or posing during the after photos but offer them some downtime to sniff or relax in between. This will ensure that your dog is well-rested and doesn’t get overwhelmed by a long day of activities.

Incorporate Your Dog’s Personality: Engage with your photographer to brainstorm creative ways to include your dog in your photoshoot. Capture their playful nature by incorporating their favorite toys or incorporating elements that reflect their unique personality.

Exercise your dog before you get to your elopement destination: If you have an over active dog with endless energy then playing a game of fetch or going for a jog to help them get all those beans out will give you a much calmer dog during your ceremony. Don’t count on the hike to your location being enough to wear them out unless you have a low energy dog, an older dog, or a smaller toy breed.

Pack Essentials for Your Dog: Apart from water and shade, ensure that you pack essential items such as food, treats, poop bags, a leash, and any medications your dog may need. Don’t forget to bring a favorite toy to help your dog feel at ease.

Rehearse and Socialize: Consider rehearsing with your dog before the big day to get them familiar with the surroundings and their role. Additionally, socialize them with other people and dogs to ensure they are comfortable in a crowded setting. If you’re able to visit your elopement location with your dog prior to the big day that can help them adjust much faster when it really counts.

a senior dog on a mountain top during a wedding

Embrace the Unpredictable

Remember, even with careful planning, bringing your dog to your elopement can still come with unexpected surprises. Embrace the joy and spontaneity that your dog brings to the day, knowing that some adorable and candid moments may arise.

By taking the time to plan, considering your dog’s needs, and ensuring their safety and comfort, you can create an unforgettable elopement experience for both you and your four-legged companion.

Celebrate your love, your family, and your cherished furry friend by including them in your elopement. The memories you create will last a lifetime.

 I'm Ann, an elopement photographer ready to be your third wheel and help you craft your perfect experience!

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