Make Room for Doggy! Including Pets in your Wedding

It’s no surprise that many couples want to include their pets in their weddings. What’s cuter than a dog in a tuxedo (even if that is considered animal cruelty by some :-)

“A pet plays an important role in a couple’s life and for many pet parents, family festivities would not be complete without their pet’s involvement,” said John D’Ariano, President of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS). “As a result, it’s becoming more common for couples to customize their wedding parties to include family, friends, and furry companions.”

If you’ve decided to include your pet, you should take a few precautions. Here are some tips on how to keep both you and your pet safe and happy during the wedding festivities.

Consider Your Pet’s Personality

A pet can be a guest of honor and simply stand with the wedding party during the ceremony, or your pet can have a specific role (ring bearer or flower girl are common roles) in the ceremony. But before giving your pet a starring role, think about whether this will be an enjoyable experience for him. Will your pet feel comfortable around your guests? Is he obedient and well behaved? There’s no guarantee that your pet will behave exactly how you want him to on the day of the wedding. Even the most outgoing and friendly pet can be overwhelmed by a crowd of guests, according to NAPPS.

To make sure that your pet has enough time to develop a level of comfort around your guests, consider hiring a pet sitter, who will act as your pet’s guide. And if your pet is especially skittish, consider having someone carry him or letting him ride in a wagon. And if he’s overly affectionate or easily distracted, be sure to use a short leash.

Make Sure Pets are Allowed

You don’t want to show up on the day of your wedding, doggy ring-bearer in tow, only to be told that he needs to get off the property right now! Can’t bring your pet? You can still include her in the wedding (see below)!

Include Daisy in the After-Wedding Photos

Or in your engagement photos! At the reception, include photos of your pet on your table number cards, or make your wedding favors in tribute to your beloved pooch.

Don’t Sacrifice Safety for Style

Planning on dressing your pooch in a tux? Make sure it fits properly and doesn’t create any discomfort for your pet. Keep the accessories simple—a bowtie or flower attached to the collar is a fun way to deck out your pet. Ensure that any accessories can’t come loose and pose a choking hazard to your pet. Be sure none of the flowers or plants at your wedding are toxic to your pet.

Let the Guests Know

This is important! Include this information on your wedding website (and even in your invitations) so anyone with allergies (or animal phobias) can plan accordingly.

Inform Your Photographer

This will help your photographer prepare for those unplanned moments, like when Tiger leaps up to kiss you in the middle of reciting your vows. Your photographer can also help you compose some fun photo ideas with your pets for after the ceremony.

Designate (or Delegate) a Pet Sitter

Don’t add to your worries on the day of your wedding. Hire a pet sitter (or shanghai an idle friend or relative) to be responsible for getting your pet to the ceremony, getting her home afterwards, and watching her during the reception. You don’t need to worry about who’s feeding the dog (or keeping him away from the chocolate).

Cats and Dogs Aren’t the Only Pets You Can Include!

Love your horse? Ride into the ceremony on her, or, head over to the stables after the ceremony for some photos. Bring your bunny for some pretty bridal portraits. Have a pet owl? How about training him to fly in with the rings tied to his leg?