How to plan a dog friendly elopement

The Ultimate Guide to Dog Friendly Elopement Planning!

Are you considering including your pup in your elopement? Having your dog present can add a special touch to your wedding day and make the experience even more memorable. However, there are several things to consider when planning a dog-friendly elopement. As elopement photographers, especially ones that love dogs, we’ve seen it all! We put together this guide to help you navigate the ins and outs of including your dog in your elopement.

Are you planning a dog-friendly elopement and need a dog-loving elopement photographer? Check us out here!

What to Consider When Planning A Dog Friendly Elopement

Before you decide to bring your dog(s) to your elopement, there are a few important factors to consider.

Bride and groom holding their two small white dogs, both wearing blue bowties, on the coast of Maine during their dog friendly elopement

1. Is your elopement destination dog friendly?

A lot of outdoor recreation locations (national parks, state parks, national recreation areas, national forests, etc) have restrictions on pets. Before you choose your elopement location, do some research to make sure you won’t be breaking any rules by including them in your day. The last thing you want is to arrive at your elopement location and realize you have to leave your dog behind. There are a lot of leash rules in recreation areas, so also consider how much experience your dog has hiking or walking on a leash. If they don’t have a lot of experience, plan a few practice hikes with them to ensure you’ll all be happy on the wedding day. We included a list of the best dog-friendly elopement locations at the bottom of this blog post!

2. What is your dog’s temperament? Does your dog get along well with other people or other animals?

Before committing to bringing your dog to your elopement, consider your dog’s temperament and behavior in relation to your elopement location and elopement vision. Will they be comfortable in a busy environment with people? Is your dog easily stressed or anxious in new environments? Will you be able to enjoy your elopement day fully while having them present? Make sure your dog will have just as much fun on your wedding day as you will!

3. Will you have someone there to help with your pet?

Having a friend or someone there to help with your pet can make a big difference on your wedding day! This person can take care of your pet’s needs, such as feeding, watering, and bathroom breaks, allowing you to focus on enjoying your day. You may need someone to help hold the leash between moments you can’t have your dog, for example during the ceremony or when you are taking portraits of just the two of you. If you’re considering including your pet in your elopement, think about the vision you have of the day and if inviting someone you trust to help with their care on the day of the event would be helpful for you.

How to include your dog at your wedding with them present

If you’ve decided to include your dog in your elopement, there are several ways to make them a part of your special day!

Ideas for Including Your Dog at Your Elopement

  1. Include your dog(s) in your ceremony
    • Have them be your ringer bearer
    • Include them in your vows
    • Put their paw print on your marriage paperwork (or have them sign as a witness if you are getting married in Colorado!)
    • Have them be the flower girl/boy
  2. Get them dressed up in wedding attire; bowties, flower collars, custom leashes, flower crowns, mini suits/dresses, doggy bandanas, etc
  3. Have a first look with your dog
  4. Include them in your elopement day adventures

*Tip: If your dog is high energy and you’re worried about them at the ceremony, you don’t have to have them there. You can include them in other parts of the day so you can be fully present for your ceremony. It’s okay to include them for some aspects of your wedding day and not all of them!

Best dog friendly elopement locations

One of the advantages of eloping is the flexibility to choose your location! As we mentioned previously, many outdoor elopement locations allow dogs with some regulations. When choosing your elopement location, consider the type of scenery you are looking to explore and your dog’s temperament, so you can choose a spot that allows you and your pet(s) to have the best day ever! Below is our list of the most dog-friendly elopement locations in the United States.

Most Dog Friendly National Parks

  1. Acadia National Park, Maine
  2. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
  3. White Sands National Park, New Mexico
  4. Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
  5. New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, West Virginia
  6. Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
  7. Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska
  8. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
  9. Yosemite National Park, California
  10. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado

Most Dog Friendly Elopement Cities

  1. Sedona, Arizona
  2. Page, Arizona
  3. Moab, Utah
  4. Bend, Oregon
  5. Oregon Coast
  6. Denver, Colorado
  7. Colorado Springs, Colorado
  8. Seattle, Washington
  9. Mount Baker, Washington
  10. Leavenworth, Washington
  11. Asheville, North Carolina

Other Dog Friendly Elopement Locations

  • National Forests 
  • BLM Land (Bureau of Land Management)
  • State Parks
  • National Recreation Sites

What to Pack for Your Dog Friendly Elopement

Dog Friendly Elopement Essentials

  • Poop Bags – and a place to carry them if you’re out hiking
  • Travel water and food bowls
  • Extra water
  • Treats, food, and snacks – especially if you’re planning a long hiking elopement or backpacking
  • Leash – check your elopement location regulations to make sure your leash length abides by their rules
  • Paw protection or weather gear – depending on the landscape you pup may need extra layers or paw protection from hot sand or terrain
  • Any special wedding attire you want them to wear 
  • Towel
  • Pet friendly ink – if they are signing your marriage license!

Here is a link to our recommendations!

And of course, don’t forget to pack for your dog(s)!  In addition to the essentials mentioned above, consider bringing a first aid kit for your dog, as well as any medications they may need. And of course, don’t forget to pack their favorite toys and a comfortable bed or blanket.

How to Include Your Dog at Your Wedding Without Them Attending

If you’ve decided that having your dog physically present at your elopement isn’t feasible, there are still ways to include them in your special day.

  1. Consider incorporating them into your wedding photos with a special photo shoot before or after the elopement
  2. Include them in your wedding attire
    • Add their paw print to your wedding attire
    • Include an embroidered or painted portrait of them in your outfits
    • Put their photo in a locket you can have with you on the day of to wear or add to your bouquet
    • Custom cufflinks with their portrait
  3. Include them in your vows or write a special tribute to them in your ceremony
  4. Have a custom cake topper made that looks just like them
  5. Include decorations at your elopement reception that reference them or name a drink after them
  6. Have a stuffed animal of them or a photo of them near you while you get ready for your elopement

Are you planning a dog-friendly elopement and need a dog-loving elopement photographer? Check us out here!

Including your dog in your elopement can add an extra layer of joy and love to your special day. With some careful planning and consideration, you can create a memorable experience for you, your partner, and your furry friend! So, if you’re considering a dog-friendly elopement, follow these tips to ensure everything goes smoothly on your big day!

Meet your photographer team

We’re Bridget & Ryan!

Adventurers turned adventure elopement photographers specializing in national park and hiking elopements! We help couples craft a wedding day that feels authentic to them in a meaningful and epic location. Life’s an adventure, let’s make your wedding one too!