Our pets are an extension of our families, so of course we want to include them in our big day! However there are lots of options and some things to consider before you rent Fido his tuxe.
There is almost nothing cuter than a cuter than a golden retriever serving as your flower girl. but including your dogs (and cats, lizards, snails, and chinchillas) in your ceremony can be very challenging. The biggest challenge for most pets is that they don't really understand what the heck is happening. They might be a little less enthused about standing around staring at each other for 15 minutes to an hour, especially with all the excitement of a new place and lots of new friends! Additionally, the day can be pretty stressful for them with lots of loud noises, unfamiliar places, and no place to retreat to for some quiet time. Really think about whether your furry friend can handle that sort of day before you decide to make them a part of the wedding party.
If you do decide you want your pet to be in the ceremony, here are some tips to make their day (and yours) go as smoothly as possible.
1. Make sure they have a designated handler that is not you or your mom or your best friend. It should be someone that your pet is comfortable with, but not someone you would be devastated if they missed something because they need to step out for a minute with your pet.
2. Do not let your pet first time in the ceremony space be when they are walking down the aisle. Try to bring your pet to your final walkthrough or at the very least they are present at the rehearsal, that way they can familiarize themselves with the smells and sounds of the space and be a little less overwhelmed during the actual ceremony.
3. Make sure your pet has a space they can chill out before and after the ceremony. Whether that is dog bed in your getting ready suite or their crate tucked into a corner of the venue. Having a space they can hang out in will make them feel more at ease.
4. Don't bring your pet along with you all day! Weddings are often 15+ hour days. Your pet will probably not want to spend all 15 hours with you and a hundred other people. Decide which parts of your wedding are most important for your pet to attend. For the most part, pets shouldn't attend reception and you should have a plan on who is taking Fido home (or wherever he will be staying the night).
If you've decided that maybe your pets aren't up for a wedding, there are some other ways to incorporate your pets into your day.
1. Have them in your photos! If you are planning on taking first look photos or bridal party photos somewhere pet friendly, have someone pick up your pet and have them in a few photos. Again, make sure you have a designate pet handler who isn't essential in any photos! Another option, if you don't want to add a pet complication to your wedding day is to include your pets in your engagement
2. Bring them to another, less formal event in your wedding weekend. Maybe you are having a casual rehearsal dinner at a restaurant's patio or morning-after brunch at a friends house. These events tend to be a bit less stressful and more flexible, so they can be a better fit for the challenging caused by including your pet.
3. Add sweet details that incorporate your pets in spirit. I love the idea of creating signature cocktails named after your pets, creating a guestbook with a portrait of your dogs, or adding them to your menus or invitations.
At the end of the day, it is your day and you know your pet and your wedding day vision better than anyone else. If you can't imagine walking down the aisle without your dog, then make it happen, just be prepare to make some other adjustments along the way.