If your pet is a key part of your life, chances are your wedding may well be about love and meow wage.
A recent survey showed that nearly 5 in every 100 weddings include pets: dogs, cats, bunnies and even horses. There’s nothing wrong with having Fido as ring bearer or giving Garfield a place of honor at the head table. However, before you leap into a pet-inclusive wedding ceremony, there are a few things you need to consider:
- What is Your Pet’s Role?
Do you want your pet as a wedding guest? Do you want Rover to be ring bearer or usher? Do you want your cat in the wedding photos? Our do you just want him at the wedding reception? How will he dress—if at all? If you’re planning on dressing him make sure the tux or whatever doesn’t chafe or constrict his movements. Is the material pet safe?
- Who Looks after Your Pet?
The day of the ceremony you are going to have your hands full. Consider the logistics. Who will get your pet there? When and how will he arrive? Who will look after his needs while he is there? Who will get him back home? When will he leave? It’s a good idea to have a family member, a friend, or a pet sitter responsible for looking after your pet.
- Is this Going to be Enjoyable?
It’s fine to want to share your day with Lassie. But this is a strange setting with crowds. Will your pet enjoy himself? Will the venue suit his needs and comfort? If not, the kindest, most humane thing you can do is consider your pet’s needs over your own! Your including your pet might even be considered inhumane treatment. If crowds, strangers, unusual venues alarm your pet, it’s best not to include him.
What options do you have if your pet can’t tolerate the venue or his behavior is disruptive?
- Have a Rehearsal
Just as the wedding party has a dress rehearsal, so too, it’s smart to take your pet to the venue a few days before. Look at it as a training day. Let Bruno practice walking down the aisle or whatever you want him to do. Give treats for good behavior. Put him at ease with the venue and the smells. If possible, introduce him to crowds too.
- What about the Other Guests?
How is your pet’s presence going to be viewed by your other guests? My friend has a six-foot-long indigo snake. I am only one of dozens of her wedding guests who would have been highly uncomfortable with him at the wedding.
Is your pet highly social? Will your pet be comfortable in a crowd or will he be intimidated or overwhelmed by the mass of people— or them by him? Is he obedient and well-mannered? Has he been in large crowds and formal settings before?
- Are There Health Issues?
If you’re planning on including your pet, make sure to include this information in the invitation so guests can take steps if they have health issues.
- What about Legal Issues?
Is this facility a pet-friendly venue? Don’t assume it’s pet friendly. Don’t leave investigating this until the last minute.
Having your pet in a central role at your wedding can be sweet and cute and highly entertaining. If however, it’s stressful for your pet, you, or your guests, it’s time to rethink this idea.
- Give Your Photographer a Heads Up
If you want your pet in wedding photos make sure you tell your photographer how and how much of a role you want Mickey to play in the pictures. This will give him/her time to plan for some cute photos.
Including your pet in your important day is not so rare any more. The most important thing to consider is: Will Fido’s presence is enjoyable for your pet, for you, and for the other guests?
*IMAGE CREDIT TO JOHN MIKOS PHOTOGRAPHERS