Creating a Dog-Friendly Wedding
This styled wedding photo shoot offers fun ideas for letting canine companions share in the love
STORY BY HEATHER DOWDY
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MANDY WHITLEY
This styled wedding shoot is inspired by the vibrant and artistic East Nashville community that is home to the beloved Riverwood Mansion and incorporates the couple’s love for animals. With a casually intimate ceremony under the shade of a 200-year-old magnolia tree, and Southern front porch cocktails, the invitation was open for guests to bring their furry best friends. Eclectic decor from the hands of local artisans set the tone for an inspiringly creative celebration of love.
The doggie details were thoughtful and cohesive with the overall vision while fulfilling a heartfelt mission to find rescued pup Etta—the beautiful brindle shepherd mix featured—a forever home. (And she found one!) This playful theme was balanced by elegant details, enchanting gardens and the stunning architecture of the historic mansion.
Finding a Pet-Friendly Venue
Finding the right venue for you wedding is often one of the biggest decisions of the planning process—especially if you wish to include animal companions. Thankfully, there are quite a few gorgeous venues that are happy to welcome well-mannered pets!
Some of our favorite pet-friendly wedding venues include Riverwood Mansion in East Nashville as well as Cedarwood Weddings and Southall Meadows, both located in Franklin. Keep in mind that most venues will require approval beforehand, so be sure to discuss your ideas with venue management before reserving a space.
Also, keep in mind that some venues may only accommodate your own pet in the ceremony, while others welcome guests to bring their pets, too. It is important to understand the venue policies up front so you can plan accordingly.
Creative Ways to Involve your Pet in the Wedding
Before the big day arrives, begin to incorporate your pets into the festivities. Letting your dog sit in on the engagement photo shoot or working your pet into the “save the date” cards is a great way to show guests that your animal companion will play an important role in your day.
Consider teaching your dog to carry the rings down the aisle in a pretty pouch or basket. Many couples opt for typing the rings to a ribbon around the pup’s special wedding collar. If your dog is not reliable off-leash, a member of the bridal party can walk her down the aisle on a beautifully decorated leash. You’ll find gorgeous special-occasion collars and dog bowties at many local dog boutiques, including Baxter & Bailey in East Nashville, Woof Gang Bakery in Franklin and Happy ReTales in Brentwood. And if you want to take your doggie couture up a notch, Pet Must Haves Warehouse in Nashville offers a selection of canine tuxedos and wedding gowns!
Special Considerations for your Pet
Try to remember that a wedding day event may cause some anxiety for your pet. After all, your furry friend picks up on all of the excitement, emotion and jitters, and a crowd of unfamiliar people can also be nerve-wracking for some pets. It’s a great idea to bring your pet to the venue a day or two before the event, to allow her to walk around, sniff and become familiar with the place. The day of, have a trusted friend, dog walker or pet sitter handle and take care of your pet throughout the day. Bring along a crate with your pet’s favorite bedding, toys and treats so that if he needs a quiet place to relax, he can do so. Don’t forget leashes, pick-up bags and any other items your pet may need, and to make sure he has access to plenty of fresh water throughout the day. And, of course, you’ll want to be sure that some of your wedding day photos include your Best Dog!
As this styled wedding shoot shows, there are many ways to beautifully incorporate puppy love into the wedding! If guests are welcome to bring their own well-mannered pups, consider having a small cake just for the canine guests. We personally love the celebration cakes and decorated treats at Three Dog Bakery in Franklin.
A pretty vase of dog treats and a scattering of comfy pet beds or blankets are a nice touch, as are framed photos of you with your pet or elegant dog-themed accents placed on tables and throughout your décor.
If your venue does allow guests to bring pooch pals, consider creating a small “dog park” area where they can play. Temporary fencing draped in some flowers and swag will look beautiful and provide a safe area for your pups to enjoy playtime.
Share with Us!
Have you incorporated your pet into your wedding? Share your ideas, photos and tips with us via social media or email us at email@example.com. We may add yours to this article once it runs on our blog.
The following vendors made this styled shoot possible:
Venue: Riverwood Mansion; Rentals: Grand Central Party Rentals and Riverwood Mansion Event Rentals; Cinematography: Yanay Films; Designer: Megan Sanders with Riverwood Mansion Designs; Paper Goods: Casey Todd with Riverwood Mansion Designs; Boutique Rentals: Artisan East; Hair & Make-Up: Wonderfully Made Beauty; Wedding Dress: Fabulous Frocks; Bow Ties: Otis James; Models: Gabrielle Sutton, Darrin Nelson, Molly Wilson, Asher Wilkinson; Alcohol: Pickers Vodka; Catering: 8 Lavender Lane; Officiant: Sue Davies-Rephan; Dog Accessories: The Dog Spot; Dog Model Etta is from East CAN dog rescue.
A very special thanks to Mandy Whitley Photography for the beautiful images. Visit her online at mandywhitleyphotography.com.