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Eloping with your dog: tips and tricks

Bringing Your Dog on Your Elopement Day

Eloping with your dog can infuse an extra dose of love and joy into your special day. For those of us who are passionate animal lovers, these four-legged friends aren't just pets, they're cherished family members! Their unwavering loyalty, boundless love, and infectious playful spirit add a heartwarming dimension to any occasion. Your Pup of Honor's excitement and happiness at being included in your celebration will surely mirror your own, adding layers of emotions to the day. Moreover, their presence can create an atmosphere of comfort and familiarity, grounding you amidst the whirlwind of emotions that such a significant milestone can bring. As you stand side by side, ready to embark on this exciting new journey, having your loyal furry friend by your side can amplify the joy and the sense of togetherness. In this blog, we'll go over tips and ideas for bringing your dog to your elopement!

Can you Elope with your Dog?

There are a few limitations when it comes to eloping with your dog, depending on the location and the planned events. Since most adventure elopements take place in State Parks, Preserves or National Parks - it's essential that we follow the rules and regulations at each location! Some parks have sensitive habitats, wildlife, and even dangerous terrain for pets. It's oh so important to check online first BEFORE bringing your pup with you! The last thing you want is to show up and have to leave your fur baby alone in the car! However, if the weather allows, and you won't be away too long it may be a temporary option!

Also, an important thing to note about the weather: make sure it won't be too hot (or too cold!) for their sweet little paws! And if your dog isn't trail trained, it may not be the best time to start on your elopement hike. Check out my guide on What Happens if It Rains on Your Elopement Day!

Tips for Eloping with Your Dog

Keep them on a leash

In most cases, for the safety of your pet, it's required for your dog to remain on a leash! Other dogs, wildlife, terrain - there are a lot of dangerous factors that could pose a risk to you and others with having your pet wander-free. There may be certain locations where it may work to have them run free, but it is necessary that they are properly trained to recall.

Bring a dog handler

Eloping with your dog can be tons of fun - but not when you're stuck holding a leash all day! Go hands free (without a leash) and hold onto your partner for your photos together. Whether it's a friend, family member, or if you are eloping alone, my husband George who is your officiant is a wonderful assistant! An added bonus of having a summer elopement!

Don't forget the essentials

That includes extra water, a bowl, lots of wag bags, a leash, and maybe even a bone or treat to keep them happy! Bring a designated backpack to keep all your pup's things organized and easy to access.

Consider leaving them behind

At least for part of the day. If you chose a rental that allows pets, or if you don't live too far. You could start or end the day with a few photos with your pup and then take off on your adventure without the extra stress.

Practice Leave No Trace Principles

Another critical part of eloping with your dog in our beautiful public lands is practicing the 7 Leave No Trace practices (LNT). This includes:

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare. Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

With dogs, that looks like...

Researching if dogs are allowed at the location you are going to. Bringing plenty of wag bags and disposing of them properly (packing out all trash!) Being mindful of where they walk on the designated trails (not going off into restricted areas or running near a cliffs edge). Keeping them on the leash and not allowing them to bring back and sticks. Understanding how your pet will react if it sees wildlife and the risks that may come with that. And also being aware of how bringing your pet may affect not just your experience but also other visitors (i.e. barking or running up to people).

How to Include your Dog in your Elopement

Eloping with your dog can be such a treat (wink wink). If you know you want to bring them along but aren't sure how to include them

  1. Get Ready with your dog The candid moments and adorable photo opportunities that arise from having your dog with you while you get ready are priceless.
  2. Make them pup of honor Include your dog as a special part of your elopement by giving them a title! You can dress them up in a cute outfit or accessory that matches your wedding theme. There are tons of adorable bandanas you can customize on Etsy! Let them walk down the aisle with you or stand by your side during the ceremony.
  3. Go on a hike Take advantage of the beautiful surroundings and go on a hike with your dog as part of your elopement day. Choose a scenic trail or a location that allows dogs and then make sure to check the weather and terrain to ensure it's safe for your dog.
  4. Ring Bearer Have your dog wear a decorative collar or harness that holds your wedding rings, and let them deliver the rings to you.
  5. Have them as your witness. It is possible to have your dog serve as the witness for your elopement when you self-solemnize. Or in a state where 1 witness is required - they can be your second!! This unique and heartwarming way of involving your dog in your elopement adds a special touch to your ceremony. Make sure to have all the necessary paperwork and documentation in order to make it official. Bonus, your dog can be your witness in 28 states and even your officiant in some!
  6. Have your dog be your officiant (Maine) In Maine and 7 other states, your dog can even be your officiant!

Eloping with your Dog

In conclusion, eloping with your dog can be a fun adventurous experience that adds an extra layer of love to your special day. It requires careful planning and consideration to ensure the safety and comfort of your fur baby. Always remember to respect the environment you're in and follow any rules or regulations and then HAVE THE BEST DAY EVER!

PS: Be sure and let your photographer know ahead of time if your pet(s) will be coming and they may have specific ideas and suggestions for how to include them in your specific plans!

If you need more tips and ideas on how to elope with your dog, I'd love to help! Contact me to plan your elopement with your fur baby!

More Elopement Planning Resources

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