Should you invite your dog to your wedding?

More and more brides and grooms are including canine companions in their marriage ceremonies. According to these couples, it makes for some wonderful and whimsical memories!

All brides dream of the perfect wedding. For some, that means including their dogs in the ceremony. And why not? Your dog is a part of your family, bringing love, companionship, joy and laughter to your life. Shouldn’t he be there to share in your happiest day?

Check out 12 couples who incorporated their canine friends into their wedding ceremonies. As you’ll discover, things didn’t always go according to plan, but not one of these brides or grooms regretted having dogs at the wedding. After all, who’s to say your Great Uncle Bertie will behave any better?

• “We got married in my in-laws’ back yard,” says Gretchen Anderson. “Leo, my husband’s golden retriever, kept getting tangled in the wedding party as we rehearsed. I finally said, ‘Throw some flowers and a ribbon on him. If he wants to be in the wedding, let him!’ Leo walked down the aisle and stole the show!”

• Carolina Villegas Kulbabinski’s English bulldog, Lola, got a little excited when she saw Carolina in her wedding gown, but she soon settled down – right on the train. It got a chuckle from the guests. “Having her there meant everything to me,” says Carolina.

• Steven Laff trained his collie, Finnegan, to walk down the aisle at his sister-in-law’s wedding. “When I married her twin sister, I attached the rings to Finn’s collar and gave him hand signals to bring them to me,” Steven says. “It was all pretty darn magnificent and the guests loved it.”

• Two French bulldogs helped make Jennifer Wilbur’s wedding special. “Tempest wore a lily attached to her collar. Riptide had the rings. He walked with the father of the groom.”

• Lyric was not content to just wear a flowered collar at Sheryl Bass’s wedding. She pulled a specially made cart that dropped flower petals as she walked toward the altar. She did such an impressive job the carts have become a business for the new couple!

• “My husband-to-be’s 80-pound white boxer wore a tux for our wedding,” says Amy Wexler. “The rabbi included him in the ceremony. My mother objected – she felt Yorma would become the focus. In the end, I think she enjoyed having him take part.”

• “Our five-year-old nephew and our Australian cattle dog acted as ring bearers and my husband’s nine-yeargo old sister and our dachshund as flower girls,” said Lisa Dyer. “All went well until the dogs caught sight of my husband and proceeded to gallop down the aisle, past the bridesmaid, the kids still attached by the leashes. Our guests thought adding dogs to the wedding party fit our personalities!”

• “When we got married, our golden retriever, Maverick, fetched the pillow with our rings, but when he got to my husband, he played ‘keep away’,” says Michelle Drager. “We joke that Maverick was trying to tell us something!”

• Quite a few things went wrong at Koren Palazzo Spadavecchia’s wedding – a water spout blew down a tree and a bridesmaid’s dress caught fire – but including her German shepherd, Martha, went without a hitch. “The experience of having Martha at the wedding was a huge success,” says Koren. “The wedding itself, well, that was another story!”

• Karen Robinson said her wedding wouldn’t have been the same without Bonnie. “She was Bulldog of Honor and wore a giant white tutu. Bonnie amused herself by pooping as my husband-to-be walked her down the aisle. Luckily, it was an outdoor wedding.”

• “A groomsman was supposed to be watching Bandit, our border collie, but forgot,” says Gabby Etrog Cohen. “Bandit ran off with the ring. We delayed the ceremony for about 15 minutes while we all chased Bandit!”

• “A co-worker made tuxes for our bulldogs that coordinated with the bridesmaid dresses,” Deidre Jack says. “Prior to the aisle walk, Harley and Miles spent time in the groom’s room, playing cards and drinking shots with the rest of the guys. Well, the dogs didn’t drink, but they stole a few cards from the table, I’m sure. Our friends still say ‘You two had the best wedding.’”

Want to make your dog part of your wedding party? Here’s what you need to know.

• Consider whether or not your dog will actually enjoy being part of a wedding ceremony. “Each dog’s temperament is different,” says Koren, who is a dog trainer as well as a bride. “Some may not be able to handle the stress and flurry of activity.” Don’t force your dog to take part if you think it might upset him. • Train and socialize your dog long before the ceremony. Loose leash walking, no jumping or barking, and a calm manner make for the best wedding experience.

• Take the dog to the church before the wedding so he can see the facility when it’s full of people.

• If your dog will be wearing an outfit, make sure he’s comfortable with the idea. A few practice sessions will help.

• If you opt to have your dog pull a flower cart, be sure to practice beforehand, and make sure your dog feels comfortable doing it.

• Designate someone whose only job is to take care of your dog. Make sure this is someone who knows dogs – yours, especially. Your dog walker or pet sitter would be an ideal choice. Ensure that person takes the dog out regularly and keeps him active and engaged until the ceremony. Potty accidents in church or temple are unacceptable.

• Make sure your photographer’s focus is on the bride and groom, not just the dogs. As Gretchen says, the pooches can steal the show!

• After the photos have been taken, take your dog home. Like grandmothers and small children, dogs tire of crowds before the party’s over.

• No matter what happens, enjoy your day. Keep in mind that dogs will be dogs, so expect a glitch or two. They’ll only serve to make the day even more memorable!