Ask anyone about their pets and you will find one very common thread; they’re family. Many of us have just as many pictures of our pets stored in our phones as we do of our children. The term “family photo” is by no means limited to the human beings in the family.
And your wedding is no different. Many people want their entire family to be there, meaning of course Fido needs a spot in the ceremony. However, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve witnessed a beautiful moment with a pet; the groom’s dog gently putting his paw on the groom’s leg after trotting down the aisle with the ring, almost as if to say, “Here’s your ring, buddy. Now go get her.” And I’ve witnessed pure chaos; the bride’s small (albeit adorable) puppy howling, squealing, and peeing throughout the ceremony. It’s not hard to decide which of these scenarios you rather have at your wedding.
So here are a few things to keep in mind when giving your furry friend a central part in the ceremony:
Know what your pet is capable of: How well trained is your pet? Will your dog walk down the aisle and be able to sit and stay on the sidelines, or does he have absolutely no idea what the word, “come” even means? The last thing you want to do is attach your ring to the neck of an animal that can’t wait to roll in the first disgustingly smelly thing it finds. You’ll find your big day much less stressful if your dog (or cat, or pig, or hawk, etc) can at least follow basic commands.
Understand that allergies may be a deal breaker: As much as you’d love to have your (impeccably behaved) four cats sitting front row at your wedding, keep in mind that people may have allergies. While your guests probably aren’t going to fight you in your wedding preferences, some of them won’t be able to keep themselves from looking red-eyed in family photos and sniffling and sneezing throughout the entire ceremony. In this case, consider adding your pet’s paw print to the guest book, some photos of them in the invitations, a tribute to them as a bit of the cake-topper, or even a small charm in your bracelet or bouquet.
Know if other pets will be there: Besides the problem of allergies, keep in mind what your guests may bring. I once went to a wedding where the bride’s normally extremely well behaved dog was meant to carry the rings. However, when her groom’s uncle arrived with his seeing eye dog, the bride’s dog spent the entire night trying to, ahem, “woo” the other dog. It was a near disaster.
Be ready to cater to your pets: Always keep in mind that your pet needs to be cared for. If your wedding is an all day event (ceremony and reception in the same location, party goes till the wee hours of the morning) there needs to be food and water for your pet. Even if the ceremony and reception is but a mere 2 hours, if it’s in 90 degree heat there still needs to be a source of water. And of course, there needs to be someone willing to take your special family member out for potty breaks, and it’s probably not going to be you.
But through it all, the important thing is that your entire family is able to be there with you. Even allowing your pet to be there for the ceremony and then asking your mother or the bridesmaid to take them home before the reception is perfectly acceptable.