This past Christmas, I was so excited to be able share some of the wedding plans with our families while we visited home (we were still living in Mexico at the time). Up until our visit, anytime someone had brought the wedding up, my best answer had been some approximation of "um, er, I... dunno." But at the time of our visit, I had just cemented our wedding party into place, we had a venue, and we had a date. I felt falsely confident that I would be ready to answer whatever wedding question anyone could throw at me without stammering, and I would look like the bride who really truly had her poop in a group (clearly not).
I told the Mister's mum, about how excited I was to have the whole wedding party settled while we got ready to head over to the big family festivities. And she asked who our ring bearer was.
We didn't have a ring bearer, but it was really clear in the way she asked that it was important, and so instead of a simple "we're not having one," I said "um, er, I... dunno."
Then she got out an old delicate box, and while opening it up explained that the Mister's grandmother (her mother), who had passed away some time ago, had made this ring pillow, specifically to be used by her grandsons on their respective wedding days. The Mister was the first of his brothers to get hitched, so we would be the first to use it. She quietly tacked on to the end "but it's your wedding day so you don't have to use it if you don't want, your decision."
I learned a few things throughout planning our wedding, specifically in regards to talking to other people about it. Here's a good gem for you if you haven't gotten to this point in your life as of yet:
Everyone will tell you it's your wedding day and you should do whatever you want when they talk to you about plans or offer suggestions. But you know what? There are plenty of details that are not about you, however, they are still very important. This was definitely one of them. So we returned to Mexico after the holidays with a new resolve: I needed to figure out a ring bearer, because we had to use that pillow.
Typically, brides who have ring bearers pick very young little boys. Which is adorable if they work out. Here's a fun story: When I was a very young little girl, I was the flower girl for one of my uncle's weddings. And I was adorable... until the big day. They opened the church doors for me to go down the aisle, and I saw the gigantic crowd of people, and I WIGGED OUT. I refused to go down the aisle. Eventually after some yelling and throwing a fit, my dad had to carry me, kicking and screaming down the aisle. I was a mess, I stole the show in a bad way, I was a distraction for the whole ceremony, I was horrible for pictures, and I still get shit for it.
So you'll have to excuse me if I wasn't all about giving some other very small child the chance to do the same thing at our wedding.
Meanwhile, I had already day-dreamingly thought about a less conventional route, and though it took a lot of convincing for the Mister to get on board with the idea, our ring bearer couldn't have been more perfect.
Because our ring bearer was Mac.
He looks so majestic here. What a goober.
Also, I don't care who you are, if you didn't go "OH CUTE!"
at that bow-tie, there is something wrong with you.
It took some work, and a lot of careful thought, particularly because while there is some information about dogs as ring bearers out there, there isn't a whole lot for BIG dogs. So here internet, here is what I learned from our experience.
How to have a BIG dog as your ring bearer:
1. First things first - If your dog isn't a friendly to everyone, well-behaved dog, be realistic. This isn't the role for him. Little dogs can be brats and get away with it because they're tiny and cute. If your big dog is out of line, he's going to scare people, and that's going to be more harmful than memorable.
2. Keep your pup on a leash. Mac is a very, very well behaved dog, but that is a LOT of people and distraction and commotion. The Mister and I had other things to concentrate on besides him and whether he was where he needed to be.
3. To that effect - make sure you have people for the following roles day of:
- Bring dog to the venue and stay with him until the ceremony (we need to give a mad shout out to the Mister's parents and brothers - they stayed OUTSIDE in the cold with Mac for an hour or two!)
- Walk your pup down the aisle, and back up. My mum did this for us.
- Bring the dog "home" after the ceremony. This person needs to not be in the bridal party, because your attendants will be off getting pictures taken with you at that time.
4. TEACH. YOUR DOG. HOW. TO HEEL. And make sure that whoever you have walking him up and down the aisle knows how to work with your dog to keep him polite and heeled for the ceremony.
5. Make sure your dog is a confident enough at heeling that you don't need a choke-chain to keep him in line day of (see point number 1 - chokers are intimidating).
6. The day before at rehearsal, we tried having Mac just sit quietly with my mum while we went through the ceremony. Mac was super antsy, trying to get up and sit with the Mister and I. Our officiant suggested that we have Mac just sit between us during the ceremony and that the Mister hold his leash. This would have been adorable and would have kept Mac happy. But it also would have been really distracting for us, and quite frankly, Mac's too cute - he would have stolen the show from me. Nope.
My suggestion: have a designated seat in the front for your dog and dog-walker to sit at during the ceremony. Underneath this seat, have a quiet-time toy waiting. We used a rubber toy that we stuffed with peanut butter. Once Mac was at his seat, he was quiet and happy licking away for the whole rest of the ceremony. So we still got the reaction from our guests of "oh that's adorable lookit the puppy!", but we also got to keep the solemnity of the ceremony, and I still got to experience that moment of "woah" when I came out in that awesome dress. Wins all around.
(not quite in the picture's frame: the treat ball.)
7. Don't have your dog carry anything in his mouth. Even if this is a trick you get down pat with him at home. Again, a wedding is a big commotion and distraction for your dog to process, and the last thing you need is for him to drop it day of, or worse, to swallow those rings. We put Mac in a black harness and affixed the pillow/ rings on the center of his back. You can see it in the picture above there.
8. Additionally, don't have your dog carry the real rings, no matter how he does the actual carrying. If there was anything I saw consistently in my research for doggy ring-bearers, it was horror stories of dogs that ate the real, day-of rings, and then the bride and groom had to wait to... you know... get the rings back. Honestly, I'm not going to say that I wouldn't wear it, but something about a poop-ring kind of ruins the romance. Mac had plastic rings tied to that pillow, just in case he could reach them on his back.
For reference, because I never found this answer anywhere - once Mac got to his 'seat,' he stayed there. Our best man held the actual rings, and passed them to the Mister when it was time. No one minded/ noticed that Mac didn't come back into play for that, and then there was no awkward moment where we tried to un-do the knots holding the fake rings to the pillow.
9. Use the opportunity to get your dog professionally groomed. Even if you don't think he needs it. Because if he's really clean, you can get some really adorable pictures later.
10. Lastly, and this isn't so much a rule but a thing I'm putting out in the world: It's almost impossible to find large-dog sized bow-tie collar. They're seemingly everywhere for little dogs, but I suppose there just isn't a market for big dogs to dress formally. In the end, my mum was kind enough to make Mac's formal-wear for the day of. But this frustrated me.
Are you planning your wedding right as you read this? Do you want your big dog to stand up for you? Hit me up, (firstname.lastname@example.org) I promise I will make you an affordable bow-tie collar to fit your big guy.
So there you have it. We don't have our professional pictures yet, but that doesn't mean our big snuggle-pup didn't pose for some good candid shots anyway. Thanks to our friends with cameras, I'm going to round this post out with some great opportunities for you to be all "AWW."
I don't know if your dog does this, but in this picture he was so excited and happy to be hanging out with us finally that he was wagging just the second half his tail in that way that kind of sweeps the floor.
this is easily my favorite picture of the day so far.
Have you been to/ been a part of a wedding with a ring-bearing dog?
Have you got any good ring-bearer/ flower-girl stories, be they human or pup?
How did you/ would you envision your ring-bearer/ flower girl situation?
Any tips I missed?
Tell me in the comments!