Dogs are a crucial and often non-negotiable part of more and more BoCo couples’ wedding parties
By KATE JONUSKA » Photos SHEA MCGRATH
Some couples might not want to compete for attention on their wedding day, but newlyweds Lara and Zach Wright were thrilled when their dog, Rudy—wearing a floral collar and a big smile—was a big hit at their wedding last September.
“Looking back, in the photos of Rudy walking down the aisle, everyone has their phones out,” says Lara Wright. “With the bridal party, everyone thought, ‘That’s nice,’ and kept their phones down, but they all wanted photos of Rudy.”
Rudy’s floral collar is the only floral arrangement Wright saved from the wedding.
Wright says Rudy’s inclusion was “non-negotiable,” and the Wrights certainly aren’t alone in their desire to have their beloved dog take part in their nuptials. Many couples, believing their dogs are part of the new family being created, are including their pets in their wedding celebrations.
“Couples love getting to have their furry family members at their wedding and taking pictures with them on one of the most important days of their lives,” says Shea McGrath, a photographer (sheamcgrath.com) who has included many dogs in engagement and wedding photos.
McGrath’s biggest challenge is getting dogs to look at the camera, and she often hires an extra hand to engage the dog and give treats at engagement shoots. At her first pet-inclusive wedding, the dogs were the ring bearers.
“At weddings, the biggest challenge is making sure the dog is being looked after so the couple — and even close friends and family — can enjoy the day without having to worry about if the dog is being taken care of,” McGrath says.
For couples in the throes of a wedding celebration, walking a dog or picking up its poop are nearly impossible, and tasking a guest with dog-sitting removes that guest from the party. That’s where pet attendants come in.
“The couple has so much going on during the day. How is the dog going to get there and get home? Who will watch them during the wedding? We take that stress off the couples’ plate,” says Hollie Connell, a wedding pet attendant and founder of Pup Plus One (pupplusone.com). Connell first attended a wedding as a dog’s date and minder for one of her clients, when she was a pet sitter on Rover. She’s since made the job a regular gig for herself and other attendants.
Most couples want their dogs walked down the aisle, she says. Connell does that and then sits with them during the ceremony. She also walks dogs around to greet everyone—and pose for selfies with guests—during cocktail hour.
“Most couples want their dogs included in every aspect of their wedding,” Connell adds. “In fact, in the State of Colorado, a dog can actually sign your marriage license with their paw print.”