How to Plan a Dog Friendly Elopement: A Complete Guide

Written by our rad team member, Amanda Winther


How to Plan a Dog Friendly Elopement: A Complete Guide

I love (LOVE!) helping my couples plan dog friendly elopements. But there are definitely a few things you will want to keep in mind if your dog will be part of your elopement. That’s why I’m sharing everything I’ve learned from helping dozens of couples plan dog-friendly elopements. Keep reading for my dog friendly elopement checklist, favorite dog friendly elopement locations, a packing list, Leave No Trace tips and more. I pawsitively could not be more excited to share this resource because is there seriously anything better than including your best boi or best girl in your best day ever? Nope. There isn’t!






How to plan a dog friendly elopement: a checklist

  1. Find a dog friendly elopement location

  2. Consider your dog’s outdoor or hiking experience level

  3. Recruit someone to help with your pup of honor

  4. Choose the best time of year 

  5. Learn about dog friendly Leave No Trace guidelines

  6. Make sure all of the essentials are packed

  7. Hire a dog friendly elopement photographer

  8. Have the best day ever!






Three things to consider when planning a dog friendly elopement

Here are three questions to ask yourself when planning a dog friendly elopement:

  1. Is your elopement destination dog friendly?

    First and foremost, you want to make sure the area and the trail you are considering for your elopement is dog friendly. There are so many options for dog friendly adventure wedding locations (keep reading for some of my favorite go-to locations!), but not every park allows dogs. Or, if they do allow dogs, it may only be on a few limited trails or parking areas. For example, Mount Rainier National Park is not very dog friendly. That said, there are some incredible areas outside of the park with views of Rainier that are dog-friendly. It’s so important to understand the area where you are planning to have your elopement. Or find an elopement photographer who really understands the area so that they can ensure that the location you choose is dog friendly. (Psst.. if you’re looking for an elopement photographer who loves finding the very best dog friendly elopement locations… I know your gal!)

  2. How much experience does your dog have with hiking?
    The next thing to consider when planning your dog friendly elopement is how much experience your dog has with hiking. Ask yourself the following questions: Has your dog ever been on a trail? If so, what kinds of trail (is it rocky or more sandy)? What’s the farthest your dog has ever walked on a trail? Finally, how does my dog do in snow? It’s really important to think about these things and be honest about your dog’s age, and experience level (and even something like paw sensitivity!) before you choose a trail. What you definitely do not want to happen is to pick a 3-5 mile hike for your day and then find out one mile in that your senior pup can’t continue. Something like this could mean you have to turn back or miss the perfect golden hour at your dream elopement location. 

  3. Who will watch the dog during the ceremony?

    Finally, do you have a guest who will be attending your elopement who can help with your dog? Having your dog at your elopement can definitely be one of the best things ever! But, after helping dozens and dozens of couples plan dog friendly weddings, my top tip is to make sure you have a guest who can help with your pup. Even if you’ve been hiking with your dog before, consider that you will be in wedding attire which is not as easy to move around in. On your elopement day, you may even find yourself more distracted or slightly more nervous (having nerves on your elopement day is totally normal!) than usual. The last thing you will want to worry about the whole time is your dog’s well-being. So I recommend finding someone who loves animals to be your dog’s puptaker or assistant for the day. That way, you know your dog is being taken care of and you can focus on celebrating your love and your greatest adventure!






What is the best time of year for a dog friendly elopement?

I recommend planning your dog friendly elopement in the Pacific Northwest in the summertime for a few reasons. First, the temperatures in the mountains are mostly mild. They tend to stay around 75 degrees, so you are less likely to have issues with dogs overheating (at least in the mountains!). This also depends on the trail and the elevation, since the temperature drops about 5 degrees for every 1000 feet you climb. Secondly, trails are a bit drier in the summer. This means you’re less likely to have a super muddy dog! And finally, the summer in the PNW has the highest chance of sunshine. Rainy dogs can be a bit stinky and overall wetness can dampen the fun (get it?! lol). So if you are planning a dog friendly elopement, I recommend scheduling it in the summertime (from mid July through mid September).




How to Plan your Oregon Elopement | Between the Pine Adventure Wedding and Elopement Photographer





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Dog friendly elopement ideas: three ways to include your pup of honor  

Do you want to include your dog in your elopement but are not quite sure how? This is something I help many of my couples think through. Here are my favorite ways to include your pup of honor!

1. At the cabin getting ready
There are a lot of really cool cabins in the Pacific Northwest, and many of them dog friendly! (woot woof!!) Even if your dog doesn’t come with you for the hike or adventure part of you elopement, it can still be so special to have your dog there for the cozy morning photos, the getting ready photos, or the first look photos. This is a really great way to include your pup! (And if you’re looking for the best airbnbs and cabins, I’ve got you covered with my guide to planning an airbnb elopement!)

2. In the ceremony as the pup of honor
Another great way to include your dog is to include them as your pup of honor in the ceremony. There are so many fun ways you can do this depending on your personal vibe and your pup’s personality. You could give them a bowtie, flower collar, or little sign to wear. (How cute is that?!). You could have your dog be a flower dog with a little basket of flowers. Either way, it’s definitely a good idea to have your puptaker (friend or family member who loves dogs and is your dog’s assistant on your big day) nearby to hold onto your pup if or when you and your partner want to hold hands during the ceremony.

3. All day for the whole elopement! 
If you have a dog that absolutely loves the outdoors and is experienced hiking, I say heck yes let’s bring them along for the whole adventure and wedding day!












The best dog friendly elopement locations: my top three recommendations

  • National Forest

  • BLM land

  • State Parks

    Unfortunately, National Parks are often not very dog friendly. And even if they do allow dogs, they have very strict rules. For example, dogs may only be allowed in parking areas and on sidewalks, or if you’re lucky on a very small number of trails.This is why I do not recommend planning your elopement with your dog at a National Park. I’ve found that the best dog friendly elopement locations are National Forest, Bureau of Land Management land (BLM) or State Parks. The great news is that Washington/PNW is full of all three of these! And these also tend to be less crowded, lesser known hidden gems. Hint: some of my favorite elopement locations in general are in these places! Not all State Parks are dog friendly, but they are usually more dog friendly than National Parks and can make great dog friendly elopement venues.

    Disclaimer: this is for pets and of course does not apply to you if you have a service animal. They can go anywhere as they should!















Plan a dog friendly elopement in Washington


Click the link below for the best places to elope in Washington!


What to pack for your dog friendly elopement

If you’re bringing your dog along for your elopement, you will definitely need to pack some extra items to make sure the day is fully dog friendly:

  • extra water

  • dog bowl

  • snacks (aka treats!)

  • poop bags

  • leash 

  • cooling vest (if they get overheated easily)

  • paw protection (if they have sensitive paws)

  • dog first aid kit

  • packable towel & brush (to wipe them off and brush if needed)

  • something cute to wear (cute bandana, bowtie collar, flower collar)

I always recommend that my couples bring water and snacks, but if you’re bringing your pup of honor, you will want to bring extra water, a dog bowl (collapsible ones are great) and snacks for them (aka their favorite treats!). Poop bags and a leash are also pack items.

If your pup tends to overheat easily, it may be a good idea to bring a cooling vest, to make sure they’re comfortable during your adventure. Or, if they have sensitive paws, you may want to bring booties or Musher’s Secret. It’s easy to put together or buy a special dog first aid kit and can be super helpful if anything unexpected happens to your pup on the trail! To assemble your own, doggy first aid kit check out this AKC resource or article by Outside Online.

It’s a good idea to throw a small towel and brush in your pack to clean them off before photos if they get wet or muddy. And, how cute are pups in bandanas and bow ties!? (They can do no wrong!)







4 Leave No Trace tips for your dog friendly elopement

  • Learn about the regulations

  • Carry it out

  • Stay on the trail (especially when there are sensitive environments!)

  • Respect other visitors/recreationists

To make sure your dog friendly elopement is also Leave No Trace aware, make sure you plan ahead and prepare by learning about the local regulations at your elopement venue. Different National Forests, BLM or State Parks have different regulations and requirements when it comes to dogs. In general, the most two common are that dogs must be on leash and that you should carry out their waste. This is because off-leash dogs can disturb the flora, fauna, and other visitors. When it comes to sensitive environments like high alpine meadows, or high deserts, dogs can accidentally trample them for many years (in the case of cryptobiotic soil, potential hundreds!) just by walking on them. (Crazy, I know!). It’s also important to pick up and carry out your pup’s waste. Not only could it disturb other visitors, but it can also negatively affect the natural flora and fauna as well. If you couldn’t tell, I’m very passionate about Leave No Trace! If you want much, much more of this (or you’re wondering what the heck cryptobiotic soil is) my team and I made a very comprehensive guide to planning a Leave No Trace elopement. (Spoiler: it’s one of the coolest things ever.)











Meet your dog friendly elopement photographer


My husband Drew and I try to bring our pup, Scout, on as many outdoor adventures as possible, so I guess it’s no surprise that I love helping my couples do the same as a dog friendly elopement photographer. In college, I was known as the “granola girl” because my outfits were always fit to go to class or hiking (not that I ever skipped class to go to the mountains, lol). I now enjoy hiking the most scenic dog friendly trails across the Pacific Northwest, exploring the bases of waterfalls in Kauai and experiencing as many fire lookout sunset views in Washington as possible. I’m a Pacific Northwest-based elopement photographer who knows the best dog friendly National Forests and BLM spots. I am passionate about this job of mine and helping my couples plan their best day ever (pup of honor included, of course!). Basically, I’m always looking forward to planning elopements with dogs and I’d love for your adventure to be the reason! Click here to learn more about me, your dog friendly elopement photographer!

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