It's Not a Wedding Without a Dog or Two

Would you forget to invite Grandma on your big day? No. So there's no chance you're leaving Buster or Mrs. Molly Pemberton out. 

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In modern society, people tend to adore their pets beyond all reason. But actually, maybe this is entirely reasonable. Your dog doesn't talk back. Your cat doesn't give you 'tude (or maybe she does). Animals, more reliably than people, love you unconditionally, and all they want in return is to be fed and maybe go on a walk or two and really just hang with you, because you, in their animal mind, are awesome. In return, in 2011, Americans spent $50.96 billion on their pets, "an all-time high" according to the American Pet Products Association. That's more money than is spent on men's clothing or booze. More and more, fur babies are treated like actual babies. They're members of the family. So it's not particularly surprising that they would be invited to weddings, which may be one of the few things (some) Americans spend more money on than pets. Would you forget to invite Grandma on your big day? No. So there's no chance you're leaving Buster or Mrs. Molly Pemberton out.

There is anecdotal proof that people have been bringing their dogs to their weddings (at least the ones held in the out-of-doors) and, more generally, into their relationships and even their sleep schedules, for years. But it takes media attention to truly make something a "trend story," and so, from The New York Post, here it is: "couples are insisting their dogs make the wedding guest list." Melanie Caduhada writes of Katie Preston Toepfer, author of a new book, Wedding Dogs, a compilation of photos and stories about dogs who went to weddings, where they've played roles ranging from best man to maid of honor to bitterly complaining guest. (Kidding: Dogs don't complain! That's your mother-in-law's job!) Toepfer was inspired to write the book after perusing photos of her own parents’ wedding day, at which "the best man was a Labrador, and the maid of honor a Dalmatian." Traditions are, after all, very important.

Not everyone's into this dogs-at-weddings thing, true, but those who are do not hold back. And why should they? These dogs are not crashers — they have been legitimately invited by "dog-loving brides and grooms." They are cute. They are photographable. They don't get drunk and make a scene. They adhere to the dress code, because they don't really have a choice. They may, in fact, be more manageable than some of the human guests. Just look at this Pinterest page. If you don't have a dog at your wedding, did you even have a wedding? What if you had an all-dog wedding?

Caduhada reports that dogs have been ring-bearers. They have hiked with the groomsmen on pre-wedding excursions. They have hung with the bride and her attendants while they did their hair and makeup. They have freaked out upon seeing the happy couple: One dog "was so ecstatically happy on the big day that she peed when she saw her owners in their finery just before the ceremony." Well, that's love! Another was flown to Paris because the couple "couldn't have gotten married without him." This was not without difficulties, writes Caduhada: "The couple first had to convince their rabbi and their venue, a fancy French social club, that Chauncey was essential to their ceremony. Then they had to schlep to JFK prior to their flight to get clearance from a USDA vet for Chauncey to fly to the European Union. The dog also needed an additional microchip for France and medication for the flight."

That dog did not get to go on the St. Barts honeymoon that followed the Paris wedding, but dogs have been on their share of post-wedding vacations, rest assured, including the honeymoon of one Wire staffer. Of course, inviting your furry best friend to a wedding or even on the trip that follows isn't on the same level as actually marrying your pet. That sort of love is reserved for the die-hards.

Image via Shutterstock by Vitaly Titov & Maria Sidelnikova.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.