When you choose to elope, it’s usually because you want the day to be more personal and meaningful, spent with those you care about.
As a special member of your family, your dog can definitely be included in your day if you want them to! We’ve put together a few ways you can have a dog-friendly elopement and some special considerations to keep in mind to make everything go as smoothly as possible.
Where can I elope with my dog?
Local or county parks, state parks, national forests, and BLM land are great options to check when it comes to having a dog-friendly elopement. AllTrails actually has an option to filter by dog-friendly trails, where you can also view pictures and reviews from other hikers.
Even if your elopement location doesn’t allow dogs, you can still find a dog-friendly hotel or Airbnb nearby!
10 Ways to involve your dog on your elopement day
- Take a nice, long walk with them in the morning before the festivities start.
- Have them get ready with you.
- Do a first look with your dog.
- Walk them down the aisle (or have someone walk them for you).
- Make them the ring bearer.
- Include them in your vows.
- Allow them to sign your marriage license with their paw (you might want to practice this before the big day).
- Dress them up with a floral necklace, bowtie, or new collar that matches your decor.
- Make them part of the decor through your cake topper, signage, etc.
- Have them wear a GoPro to get unique video footage of the day from their POV.
Celebrating Your Elopement with Your Dog: The Ultimate Checklist
Schedule a Trip to the Groomer
You’ll be looking your best for your elopement day, and so should they! A trim will make sure they’re photo-ready.
Choose a Dog-Friendly Location
We have several dog-friendly elopement destinations you might want to check out:
- Colorado: Maroon Bells, Lake Isabelle, and Garden of the Gods
- Arizona: Sedona
- Washington: North Cascades National Park and Glacier View Trail
- Oregon: Cannon Beach and Arcadia Beach
- California: Vasquez Rocks, Pfeiffer Beach, and Lake Cuyamaca
As you’re planning your elopement, make sure to always check ahead of time before assuming a location (even an outdoor one) allows dogs. While National Forest areas typically allow dogs, other places like most National Parks do not.
Dog-Friendly National Park Elopement Locations
However, there are a handful of National Parks that do allow dogs at specific trails/locations! These are the best options to bring your pup along for an elopement to a national park (although, be sure to follow guidelines, since dogs aren’t allowed on all trails at these locations):
- Acadia National Park, Maine
- Yosemite National Park, California
- Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
- Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
- Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
- Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan
- White Sands National Park, New Mexico
Bonus: Dogs on leash are also allowed for ceremonies at Moraine Park Discovery Center Amphitheater inside Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado! The only spot within the park you can say your vows and bring your pup along.
Think About Travel
Getting to your elopement venue may require airplanes or long car rides. Make sure you do everything you can to make your dog comfortable, and allow for plenty of time for breaks and walks if you’re driving.
Know Your Dog
Is your dog by your side on all of your hikes, or do they rarely leave the couch? Are they high energy or pretty calm? Knowing your dog’s personality and limits allows you to make smart decisions about how much walking you’re doing on your elopement day or whether you need to make sure they get some play time to burn off energy before your ceremony.
Bring Someone to Watch After Them
We’re sure you love your dog and want to spend time with them, but there are going to be some points during the day when it’ll be nice to have someone dedicated to watching them and caring for them for awhile while you and your partner enjoy the festivities.
If you’re eloping somewhere that doesn’t allow dogs, you could hire a dog sitter for part of the day and celebrate with them later on.
Pack a Day-of Kit
Make sure you bring everything your dog needs to be comfortable, like plenty of water, food, toys, their bowls, treats, their brush, and bags to clean up after them.
Don’t forget the fun stuff — like their outfit (if they’re wearing one). There are a bunch of cute bow tie and floral collar options out there. If you’re eloping in Colorado, you might want to put a dog-friendly ink pad on your list so your dog can “sign” their paw print on your marriage license.
Consider Environmental Factors
Keep the weather in mind when planning your dog-friendly elopement day. Bring shoes for them if they’ll be walking on hot rocks or through snow, for example. Watch out for wildlife and keep them leashed and away from other animals like mountain goats.
Leave No Trace
Make sure you and your furry companion follow Leave No Trace principles. It’s definitely possible to enjoy the great outdoors with your pet by following a few simple steps.
Plans change, there are things you can’t control, and even the most well-behaved puppy can get excited and cause a little chaos. Go into your elopement with plenty of patience, and remember that all of those little moments with your dog — the cute and the crazy — will make it even more memorable.
Need an elopement photo + video team that loves dogs?
Skyewater Photo + Film specializes in adventure elopements and destination weddings all over the US, and we would love to capture these special moments with your dog.
We can also help with venue reservations, day-of timelines, vendor references, and extra head scratches for your pup. Reach out to us for more info!