When deciding who to invite to your wedding, you will likely think of friends and family members that are most special to you. Because pets are some of our closest furry ‘relatives’, often more of a friend to us than many of the people we know, some couples have expressed a desire to include their dog, cat, budgie or even lizard in their wedding day. While this is not an everyday occurrence, it can certainly be done in style and in a way that is enjoyable for you and your pet.

There are various ways in which pets can be incorporated into your wedding, for example:

  • Feature furries – make your pet the feature by having him or her carry your rings down the aisle or leading you (or your maid of honour) down to the altar. Only do this if you are sure that your pet will not be afraid of all the people around him or her and if it is a suitable breed (i.e. not a budgie!)
  • Wild side – if your pet is a little on the wild side, or if it is not a trainable species, have your bridesmaids or groomsmen walk him or her down the aisle or carry your pet in a special basket.
  • Picture perfect – some venues may not allow pets (especially churches and courthouses). In these cases, it may be best to have your photographer include your ‘friend’ in some or all of the photographs. This is a great way to remember his or her inclusion in your wedding, without forcing your pet to be ‘on show’ for an extended period of time.
  • Vow meow – write unique vows that include your pet. For instance, get your partner to promise to allow Rex to sleep on the bed on cold winter nights, and you can promise to make time for your new husband between “beach walkies”.
  • Party animal – if you are not confident that your pet will behave or enjoy the ceremony and photographs, why not just include him or her in your reception? This works particularly well in weddings that are set on large farm estates, beaches or in country gardens.

There are a few things to consider when you have decided to include your pet in your wedding day. These should be thought about so that your day is successful, your pet is happy and your guests are comfortable. The following tips and warnings should be valuable:

  • Some venues do not allow pets. If this is the case, you may need to be creative about how you include them. For example, why not take your dog for a walk to the park as part of your wedding photo shoot?
  • If your pet is not already trained, this is not the time to start. Consider whether he or she is likely to dart off, bark at ambient noises, run after children or nips guests’ ankles and be realistic about the implications of these things happening on your wedding day.
  • Realise that you have no control over what your animal actually does on the day, so try and relax. No amount of training and practice is going to stop your St Bernard from letting out a noisy yawn as you are indulging in your first kiss as husband and wife. Sometimes, you are just going to need to have a sense of humour about the situation and enjoy the funny side.
  • Let your attendants and officiant know that you plan to include your pet so that there are no nasty surprises.
  • Plan ahead by making sure that there are no insects, pesticides or other animals at either the ceremony or the reception venue that could cause difficulties or be dangerous to your animal.
  • Include your pet in your practice sessions if he or she will be participating as an active member of your bridal party. They should be comfortable with you, the music and the people around them.
  • Pamper your pet before the big day and make sure that they have visited the grooming parlour so that they look and smell their best. While you may want to dress him or her up as a bride or groom, or simply in stylish gear, remember that it is important that your beloved pet feel comfortable and happy.

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