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Walking the dog…down the aisle


After hours of planning, preparing, and breathing a sigh of relief, the moment is here: the wedding day. The walk down the aisle is filled with friendly, smiling faces, and you then see your furry best friend by your partner, waiting to greet you. 

Dogs in wedding ceremonies are a sentimental way to have a treasured family member with you on the big day. “They’re such a big part of our lives,” says Maria Levandowski, a bride whose wedding was at the Arbor Loft in Rochester. 

The Arbor Loft is a pet-friendly venue that lets couples incorporate their animal in their wedding if they would like to. It was important for Levandowski and her partner to include their dogs, Madi and Murphy, because otherwise it would, “feel inauthentic to us,” notes Levandowski. 

How is it possible to incorporate your pet into a wedding ceremony? The list of uncertainties the day may bring with the animal is possible. Owner and lead trainer at A Confident Dog, Taylor Orem says that some couples have expressed nervousness about having their animal in their wedding. She says that she hasn’t seen a dog misbehave during a ceremony. Even if the dog is just part of the wedding for a brief time, “That small portion is going to mean so much . . . just go for it,” says Orem.

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FIVE WAYS TO PREPARE YOUR DOG FOR THE BIG DAY: – Give them a bath! Ask a bridesmaid or groomsman to be in charge of taking your furry friend to the groomer the day before the wedding. – Dress them up: Clean their collar in a mixture of unscented laundry soap and warm water to get all the muck off. Gently scrub with an old toothbrush and let dry for a day or two. Or go all out and get a spiffy new collar for the ceremony. – Want your pet to smell less “doggy”? Dog cologne is widely available. Pick your favorite scent from your local pet supply store or online. – Pack a “doggy bag.” Make sure Fido has their own bag to take to the ceremony. Fill it with treats, waste bags, a water bowl, and a few toys. Just don’t pack anything with a squeaker! – Put your gown or tux on at home a week or so before the ceremony. Let your dog get used to seeing you in this somewhat (for them) unusual clothing. Make sure someone else is around to help prevent your pet from jumping on your finery.

1a6a3926Levandowski explains there were some hiccups in their ceremony and says, “Murphy slipped his collar walking down the aisle.” She says she didn’t see it, because it was before she made her appearance. But she heard laughing and was told about it later on. Moments created, even funny or imperfect, are a great way to form these beautiful memories. Before the ceremony, Orem does warmups and practices with treats to get the dog used to working with her. She says that some dogs seem to get “a little nervous of the camera [and] the photographer trying to get kind of close” once pictures start. If a couple keeps that in mind during the photos, it may create a smoother experience for some animals. Another challenge Orem has encountered is the dog being disconcerted by the unusual (to the dog) outfits the couple wears and adds that she understands it’s not usually something that is tried on beforehand. Regardless of the challenges, couples can create wonderful memories by having their fur-babies be a part of their special day. Some other area venue spaces that are pet-friendly for wedding ceremonies are the Wilder Room and the Historic German House. A Confident Dog has a variety of wedding and training services offered to work best with you and your family. To learn more, visit

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