When we got engaged back in February 2012, we did not have McGee. We still lived in NYC and had high hopes of getting a dog someday, but could not possibly have imagined the little gremlin who would eventually share our abode.
Fast forward to February 2013: our wedding is 5 months away at this point and we're ironing out the details. We are certain that we want McGee to be in the wedding, but what role will she play? Ring bearer? Hostess with the mostest? Food taste tester? Talent show entertainment? So many options.
We ultimately decided that she would be one of our flower girls, alongside our nieces aged 13 and 5. We dubbed her "Flower Dog" and hoped for good behavior and no pooping in the aisle. I custom ordered her a collar from Puddles and Posies made from scraps of all the ties we had already ordered for the men in the wedding party. We decided that she would walk down the aisle with our elder niece while the younger walked ahead and, in the fashion of Gretel, laid a path of doggie biscuits for McGee to follow.
I have to say that McGee, with all her endearing quirks and challenging attributes, was a source of some stress for me in the days leading to our wedding. Will she knock our niece over and drag her down the aisle? Will she joyfully scamper through the barn and then tackle me in my dress? Will she get nervous and refuse to move at all when she sees the huge assembly of people?
Turns out, none of these fears were validated. While I can't quite say that she was a perfect lady, she did her best McGee and that's saying a lot. She ignored the dog treats that our niece so carefully placed on the ground in favor of snarfling and snuffling the grass, she had to wear her usual harness along with her pretty new collar for safety's sake, and she spent the duration of the ceremony having her leash passed from one member of the wedding party to the next since she couldn't decide on where she had the best view of... who knows what.
Our special considerations for McGee were not limited to the ceremony alone. The week before the wedding she stayed with my in-laws. They have a Rottweiler of their own, so her visit to their house was a constant game of dog shuffling- one would head out the back door as the other was secreted into the front of the house, and they each had their own bedroom for night times. Poor Achilles probably wondered what the heck was going on.
In the week before the wedding, Dog Dad and I had an additional half dozen people sleeping at our house and it was delightfully heart warming to see sweet McGee switching from person to person so that everyone could have an equal opportunity to love on her. She cozied up to anyone who would make room on the couch (or the blow up mattress) and we were relieved to see our dog's true personality shining through. McGee is a dog who is difficult to get to know unless she's in an environment where she is at ease. Since my family lives far away, most of them had never had the opportunity to spend quality time with the real McGee and they were all super smitten by the time their visit was over.
We also took what may seem an extreme step to some and asked all of our guests to leave their dogs at home. This may sound like a no brainer for a wedding, but since our party was a weekend of camping and the vast majority of our loved ones love dogs, it was actually a difficult thing to ask. We knew that this would be our one chance (maybe ever) to secure a completely McGee friendly environment, and just as much as the weekend was for us to enjoy, we wanted her to enjoy herself as well and have the most stress free experience possible. This meant a dog free zone for her to spend time relaxing and soaking up attention from all her aunties and uncles without the constant hyper-vigilance that it means for us when other pups are around.
All in all, I think we had great success introducing our girl to our community. She surprised me by showing up at our reception in the company of my sister and having her leash passed around among several of our other dog-doting guests. I felt so lucky to be surrounded by people who cared enough to take the time to understand our dog's special needs and give her the same care and affection that we try to give her every day.
I am so glad that we made the decision to include McGee in our wedding ceremony. Dog or not, she is the center of our little family and the day just wouldn't have been complete without her there. In 50 years when we reminisce about what made our union special, we will undoubtedly look at the photos and recall our McGee. She will be long gone by then, but we will smile and remember her velvety ears and think of how much we loved her on the day we promised to love each other forever.
A special thank you to Taylor Dunham Photography for the beautiful shots!