If you're getting married, it's natural to want to include your best friend in the ceremony—and no, we don't mean the one who held your hair when you vomited in college.

We’re talking about your four-legged companion. The one who’s seen all your meltdowns, your good and bad relationships, and welcomed your fiancée into your life. If you’re like most dog owners, though, your dog isn’t perfect, and inviting him to your wedding day might mean a destroyed cake, a handful of accidents, or even a fight with your venue. You don’t have to compromise your sanity to include your dog in your nuptials, but you do need to know how many distractions your dog can tolerate. Lucky for you, it can be easy to include your dog in your wedding. Pick one of these options that best suit you (and your dog)!


Engagement Photos

Want to make it evident that your dog’s part of the family, but not sure how well she’ll behave at the wedding? Get a gorgeous group shot by including your dog in your engagement photos. This might be the best group photo you ever take of your dog, and you can use the resulting pictures on thank-you notes and save the date cards.


A Trash the Dress Session

Love the idea of wedding-day photos with your dog, but worried she’ll wreck your dress, pee on the photographer, or bite the flower girl? Try a “trash the dress” session instead. These photography sessions, which usually occur a day after the wedding, allow you to destroy your dress while taking fantastic pictures. You might, for example, go swimming with your dog and snap a shot as you walk toward the water. Playing fetch in a wedding gown makes for a striking image, too! Ask your photographer what might work best, and then let your love for your dog—and your excitement about your wedded bliss—guide you.


Part of the Paw-ty

If your dog is the best-behaved pet on the block, then you might want to make him your ring bearer or include her as a flower girl. A cute vest and collar help your dog look the part, but don’t get carried away. Remember, he’s a dog, and will need someone to escort him down the aisle—not to mention someone to take him home at the end of the ceremony. Don’t expect your dog to remain calm for hours during your wedding, either. If your dog’s going to take part in the ceremony, it should be a quick one that ends with a trip home. Otherwise, you’ll spend your big day trying to control an exhausted and overstimulated dog.


A Group Honeymoon

If wedding stress has caused you to neglect your dog and you love spending time together, consider including him or her on your honeymoon. If your honeymoon features outdoor adventures or camping, it’s a perfect fit. But if you want to luxuriate at a relaxing resort, consider leaving your dog home. Don’t worry, if you have an awesome pet sitter or board him at a comfy facility, he won’t be jealous he didn’t get to go.


Wedding Morning Antics

If you can’t trust your dog enough to bring him to your actual wedding, let him play a role in your big day by spending some time together that morning. Try clearing your head by going for a hike together, or consider taking your dog to a local outdoor bistro for a pre-wedding brunch with your friends.

Research consistently shows that time spent with animals alleviates stress and may even prolong your life. So including your dog in your wedding isn’t just a good way to show your love; it can also help ease cold feet.


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