Guest post by Roz Warren
Originally published in Women’s Voices for Change
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.
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.”
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.
Roz Warren’s (www.rosalindwarren.com) work appears in The New York Times and The Funny Times.