It is estimated at least 85 million families have a pet – almost 70% of the population. Every day we see people post cute videos and pictures of their beloved animals on social media. We buy countless toys, treats, grooming products, outfits, and more for our pets. It’s safe to say America is pretty obsessed with their pets, and for good reason. Pets are a wonderful part of any family. They give us unconditional love, emotional support, joy, laughter, and so much more. Many people don’t feel their family is complete without a pet, and still others would even rather have animals than human babies.
However you picture your perfect family, it’s safe to say you love your pets – and when planning your wedding, you’ve likely thought at least once, “I wish my pet could be there!” Well, they can! Here’s a thorough guide to including your pet in your wedding. From the ceremony to the reception and everything in between, the most important people in your life – human or animal – should be present.
Although weddings are better when there’s an animal playing a role, you need to objectively consider your pet’s personality. Do they love humans, follow commands well, and are generally well-behaved? Perfect, give them all the roles you want! But if your pet is shy, anxious, doesn’t like to follow commands, or isn’t the best-behaved, you may have to leave them at home. Weddings are high-energy, high-emotion, and full of activity and noise. You have to consider your pet’s safety and well-being. If you aren’t sure your pet will love every minute of the attention, leave them at home. You don’t want to cause any undue stress to your loved one. But, if you’re certain your pet will thrive on the activities, definitely bring them!
We’ve seen dogs and cats as ring bearers and even flower animals, but have you ever seen a parrot officiate a wedding? We haven’t either, but that just means you could be the first! Or, at least, your pet bird could rest on your shoulder throughout the ceremony. Your snake could be a part of your hand binding unity ceremony (definitely check with your officiant first!). Your pet can be your “best dog” or “kitten of honor” or you can supplement your wedding party by having each member walk down the aisle with their own pet – or an alpaca! Some brides have even opted to carry their bunny rather than a bouquet.
Farm animals aren’t necessarily excluded from pet status, either. It isn’t unheard of for a bride to walk down the aisle with her horse, pig, or goat. Rather than a getaway car, bring back the romantic tradition of leaving the ceremony and/or reception on horseback.
While it’s difficult to fit a pet into a ceremony or reception, it’s a piece of cake to include them in the wedding photos! Remember the days when we photoshopped dinosaurs behind the bridal party while they ran in terror? Ditch the T-Rex in favor of, say, the bride’s dog chasing away the groom.
Keep in mind animals can’t understand what they’re doing, or why you’re trying to pose them. Plan just a couple of posed pictures with your pet to minimize your frustration (and photography time!) and hope for a few good candids on top of that. Be prepared for a few “oopsy” photos, too!
Give your fur baby a seat at the bridal party table so they can watch over the festivities from the comfort of their own bed. They’ll make an adorable photo booth prop, too. However, you’ll need to ensure you have at least on person dedicated to watching your pet. Receptions can be chaotic (especially for the bride and groom), and with all that food sitting around, someone will have to make sure your pet doesn’t get into trouble.
If you don’t have a pet, or at least not a pet you can feasibly bring to your wedding, consider hiring animals to come to the reception. Many organizations like animal rescues and zoos will bring animals to events, or you can find an animal trainer to do a show. If you’ve decided to ask guests to donate to a charity rather than give presents, select an animal-friendly nonprofit and then have that nonprofit show up with animals!
Source: Chicken, Owl
Make sure you check with your ceremony and reception venues to be sure they allow animals. You should also inform guests on the invitation that you will have your pet there. If any are allergic, they’ll need to plan accordingly, whether it’s just an extra dose of antihistamine, a request to be seated seated far away from the pet, or, worst case scenario, not be able to attend at all. Give them plenty of time to plan.
Even the best-trained animals get overwhelmed or distracted sometimes. If you’re giving them a role in the ceremony, make sure they have a handler to help them stay on track.
If you’re going to put clothes, a new collar or harness, garland, ring pillow, or any other new object on your pet, you should have them wear it (or a duplicate) for a few weeks before the wedding. Give them enough time to get used to the way it feels before you add the pressure of the ceremony to the mix. Have a plan B if things don’t go well between your furry friend and their new look.
You’ll need to bring extra supplies for your pet as well:
- Plenty of food. This is a high-energy day, and your pet will be in the thick of it. They may work up more of an appetite than usual, so bring extra food.
- Water bowl. This is even more important than the food. You may want to designate someone to make sure this bowl is full at all times, particularly if it’s an outdoor wedding and reception during the summer. Your pet can’t tell you when they’re thirsty, and it’s easy to not notice their bowl is empty when you’re at home, let alone at your wedding. Putting someone else in charge will ensure your pet stays hydrated.
- Treats. If there will be kids at your wedding, they’ll likely want to give your pet treats. Be careful – many dog and cat treats are very high in calories and are very rich, so too many could make your pet sick. Try to find a healthier treat option, or mix in pieces of their regular dry food.
- Toy or bed and blanket. Bring something that comforts your pet. They’re likely to get overwhelmed with all the activity and emotions throughout the day. Eventually, they’re going to need a nap, and maybe even a place to hide. Find a quiet spot at the reception venue and put some of their favorite toys and bed there. You could include some of your clothes as well to provide an extra layer of familiarity.
- Litter box. Whether you have a cat or any other animal, they’re going to need to go to the bathroom. Obviously, you don’t want them tinkling just anywhere. Your designated water bowl-filler could take them for a walk a few times to get them away from the festivities and somewhere private, so don’t forget a leash, too.
- Make sure there are lint rollers at the reception – not all guests are used to pet hair on their clothes! Consider also keeping both wet and dry rags on hand, in case your pet gets muddy or wet.