Bride Kimberly Ashcraft, of Ellicott City, and her dog (and ring bearer) Bear
(photo courtesy Kimberly Ashcraft)

Kimberly Ashcraft's wedding day checklist: hair, makeup, portraits ... and ensuring the ring bearer gets a good  long run.

Like a growing number of brides and grooms, Ashcraft was determined to include her dog, Bear, a Chesapeake Bay retriever-Lab mix, in her wedding.


"As soon as I got him, I knew I  wanted him in my wedding," says Ashcraft, of Ellicott City, who married David Ashcraft May 15, 2010. It even influenced her decision on a venue — an outdoor ceremony at the Sheraton on Lake Kittamaqundi, in Columbia.

Bear's tuxedo was custom-made by Patricia Eikenberg, owner of K9 Coats & Totes, in Elkridge.

And on the big day (with the  tempting distractions of geese on the lake and new people to sniff), Bear's obedience training paid off, as did Ashcraft's plan to burn up his energy prior to the ceremony. "My brother had him on a tight leash and ran him around the grounds to wear him out," she says.

While vows were exchanged, Bear stretched out alongside the groomsmen and fell asleep.

Find wedding-day fashions for pets at these shops and websites.
• K9 Coats & Totes, Elkridge, for dresses, T-shirts, jackets and bandanas, starting at $10, www.k9coatsandtotes.com
• The Yuppy Puppy Pet Boutique, Ellicott City, for tuxedos, scarves, wedding collars and bow ties, starting at $8.95, theyuppypuppypetboutique.com
Bridalxpress.com for the Best Pet Wedding Bow, $15.29, and Dog Tuxedo, $26.98
TheWeddingOutlet.com for Dog Ring Bearer Pillows, $14.95-$15.95
theWeddingdog.com for silk or fresh-flower dog collars in daisies, roses, camellias or fuchsia, $55-$260