Here Comes the…Dog?

Tips for including the family pooch in your wedding ceremony

When wedding bells ring in our pet-oriented society, it’s not unusual for the ceremony to include the groom, the bride and the other beloved family member: the pup.

After all, what’s more memorable—or cuter—than a pup in a tux? But if your furball is going to attend the nuptials—either as a guest or playing a role in the wedding party—there are some additional considerations that need to be made. 

Location, location, location

The venue is key for any couple, but the bride and groom choosing to include the dog must have a pet-friendly locale.

The most obvious dog-friendly wedding location is—you guessed it—outdoors at one of San Diego County’s pet-friendly parks and beaches that allow weddings. (Coronado, Ocean Beach, Del Mar and Carlsbad all do, just to name a few.) Need help navigating the when-pets-are-allowed rules and any potential four-legged restrictions?

Contact Seaside Beach Wedding (858-273-2711, to help you dig through your options.

Or maybe you want Buffy by your side when you say “I do” on the green during a fancy ceremony at the country club. Fairbanks Ranch Country Club (, and the club at Lomas Santa Fe (Krissi Trevino, 858-755-2861, both will accommodate your pooch.

There are also several luxurious hotels that happen to be extremely dog friendly. Bahia Resort Hotel, Catamaran Resort and Spa and The Lodge Torrey Pines—all of which fall under the Evans Hotels ( umbrella—let pups stay (some restrictions apply).

Estancia La Jolla (858-964-6615,, the ranch-style sanctuary set on 10 acres, promises pampering for you and your pup.

San Diego’s Klimpton Hotel Palomar (619-515-3006, gives dogs their own in-room pet beds and treats.

And Hotel Republic (619-398-3100, downtown lets you upgrade Fido’s stay to the Pooch Package, which includes a nightly in-room dinner of homemade broth and a biscuit, in addition to the dog bed and mat that every four-legged friend gets.

If a traditional church service is more your speed, contact Anytime Wedding Chapel (619-479-4000,, which has an all-dogs-allowed policy and provides a decorated chapel, music and non-denominational ministers to perform either a religious or civil ceremony. Some customized packages include help with a beach reception—one of the company’s specialties.

Going to the Chapel

Russ at Top Dog Limo Bus (858-581-3644, topdoglimobus) provides luxury transportation for your entire pack—including you, the wedding party and your precious Fifi.

Rolls Livery (619-518-7655, chaufers the bride- or groom-to-be accompanied by the family dog in a Bentley or a Rolls Royce Cloud.

Or SanDPups (623-206-7822, offers customized wedding services just for your pup on your special day. Enlist them to help pet sit on site or back at home; ask them to bathe, primp and dress your pooch; or let them taxi him to and from the ceremony and/or reception.

Dressed to the Nines

If your pooch has a starring role in the proceedings, such as walking the bride down the aisle, serving as ring bearer (place a ring on a small pillow that attaches to his dog collar) or acting as flower girl (put rose petals and the dog in a pulled wagon or the basket of a tricycle ridden by a child), you’ll want your dog to be appropriately dressed.

You can keep it simple with a dog collar made from the same floral array that the bridesmaids carry or you can go all out with designer clothes available at numerous sites online (try,, or

For a custom tux that’s made to order, Ryan Soren at Jos. A. Bank in La Jolla (858-551-0122, can help. You choose the fabric and style, give Ryan three to four weeks lead time, and you’ll have an outfit that is sure to make your pooch howl with delight.


Is your pooch comfortable in large crowds or with new people? When the wedding march starts, will he sit quietly? Can he keep his grubby paws off that white gown? Is he trained to sit/stay and not grab food? If the answer to these questions is yes, then your dog has what it takes to be part of the wedding party. (If no, leave him at home or bring him with a pet sitter who can make sure he behaves and doesn’t eat the chocolate cake.)

Now that you know your dog can handle the blessed event, can the officiant, the best man, the maid of honor, bride’s maids, best man etc. handle the dog? Does anyone have allergies? (In that same vein, the wedding invitation should let guests know that your adorable Fifi will be in attendance.)

Once the ceremony is over and the photos with Rufus have been taken, your dog has performed his dutiful task like a champ and deserves a break. Provide him with a restful place away from the dancing, toasting and cake cutting to lap up some water and munch on some tasty treats.

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