By Roz Warren
How do you feel about dogs being part of a wedding ceremony? If you're a dog person, you're probably thinking, "Great idea!" If you aren't, it's apparently like suggesting that aardvarks or squirrels be included in the wedding party. A likely response is, "Why on earth would anyone want to do that?" From personal experience, I can tell you why.
My son and his girlfriend are crazy about Jack, their Bichon Frise, so when they told me they were engaged, I joked, "I can't wait to see Jack in a tux!" Little did I know that the kids wouldn't dream getting of married without including not only Jack, but Jack's "Uncle" Max, the Bichon belonging to the bride's parents. Both dogs, wearing tuxes, will be part of the upcoming ceremony. Max, the older -- and better behaved -- of the two, is going to be the ring bearer. Jack will be the "flower dog."
When my son told me that Jack and Max would be members of the wedding party, I thought it quirky but adorable -- something that will make the ceremony uniquely theirs. My ex, who is footing the bill for the otherwise traditional shindig (and who is not a dog person) was less enthusiastic at first, but soon came around. He loves the kids enough to want to give them exactly the wedding they want.
Telling folks that your son's wedding will include four-legged participants is a litmus test for discovering how they feel about companion animals. People who see their own pets as "family" are charmed and delighted. "Wonderful!" they enthuse. "Tell me all about it." But people who don't much care for dogs are repulsed. "That's weird," is not an unusual response. I've also been told that including Jack and Max is "offensive," "disrespectful" and "ridiculous."
When I told one friend that the kids were not only planning on a canine-inclusive ceremony but also planned to have a dog-themed wedding cake, she joked, "Better put plenty of nuts on it!" As far as she's concerned, including the dogs at all, let alone putting them on the cake, is just a nutty idea. Luckily, we're not that close, so she isn't invited. I do hope that nobody who is invited will be dismayed or repulsed by the sight of two beloved dogs in formal attire trotting down the aisle.
But what if they are? Tom and Amy love those dogs and it's their wedding. The ceremony should reflect who they are as a couple (dog lovers!) and what matters to them (Living happily ever after -- with Bichons!) and not about the comfort level of my friends.
Sure, a canine-inclusive ceremony used to be unheard of, but things are changing. Google "dogs in weddings" and you'll find dozens of photos. Bulldogs in tuxes. Poodles in veils. Labradoodles wearing garlands of flowers. A beaming bride carrying an impeccably groomed Yorkie down the aisle in a small white basket.
The way I see it, meeting the challenge of pulling off a wedding that includes Jack and Max bodes well for Tom and Amy's ability to meet the challenges of married life. A wedding ceremony that runs smoothly despite the presence of two lively dogs will be a small miracle. But so is any loving, enduring marriage. And what mother doesn't want that for her kids?
"Are the dogs well-behaved?" one dog-savvy friend asked me.
"One of them is," I told her. Max, the older dog, is a perfect gentleman. Jack, the younger dog, is more mischievous.
She laughed. "Well, it should be memorable."
I should certainly hope so. Unique, memorable and joyful. As mother of the groom and "grandmother" of the flower dog, I'm planning on having the time of my life.
Writer Roz Warren last VoxPop essay was about bagging groceries.
Photo: file art