On the day of your wedding, you and your partner will probably invite the loved ones who are really important to you to join you in the festivities. If you have a cuddly cat or sweet dog who's an important part of your family, then you might consider having them participate too. But it's not always easy to know how to make your pet part of your wedding, especially since they can be a little temperamental or rambunctious at times.
"Many pet lovers want their pet to be included in the pictures because let's face it, pets are family," wedding planner Amy McCord Jones, tells Bustle. "However, every wedding planner smiles on the outside and cries on the inside when 'pet participation' is mentioned." It's easy to love pets for their wiggly enthusiasm and their boundless energy, but those exact characteristics make your furry pal pretty unpredictable in a setting when a wedding planner needs to be able to control all happenings and outcomes, says Jones. Plus, it's not always great for the pet either. "In my experience, 90 percent of the participating pets are scared to death and confused," she says. Without you by your pet's side to cuddle them whenever things get scary, the pup or kitten can easily get overwhelmed in such a new and busy environment.
Of course, you can definitely still choose to include your pet in the ceremony. Just be sure to have someone bring them in at the designated time and then care for them once they've done their part. Here are some expert-recommended ideas for how to bring your pet into your wedding.
1. Have Them Walk Down The Aisle
"A great way to incorporate pets in a wedding is by having them stand in as the flower girl or ring bearer," Rula Khoury, wedding planner at Sweet Beginnings by Sugar Factory, tells Bustle. While this might seem like the sweetest idea imaginable, having your fur baby take such a key role in the ceremony means being prepared, she says. Make sure that you have a designated person to take your pet into their lap or another location once they have travelled down the aisle, so that there's no aimless wandering while you say your vows.
2. Let Them Pull A Child Down The Aisle
If attaching a valuable ring to your scampering puppy sounds like a terrible idea, one way to include them while reducing the risk a bit is to have your pet walk beside the human ring bearer or flower girl, says Khoury. If your dog is big enough, strong enough, and behaved enough, you can even try getting them to pull the child in a small wagon. But if that's the route you take, make sure that you rehearse plenty of times until you're certain it will work on the big day.
3. Have Them For Support While You Get Ready
"For people that don’t want to worry about the unexpected nature of a dog or train a new habit just having your dog present at the wedding can be a huge benefit," professional wedding photographer Logan Westom, tells Bustle. Most people’s dog are their best friend and you would never not invite your best friend to your wedding. They can help you relax and keep people calm, which is always something worth having more of on your wedding day.
4. Include Them In Your Photos
Is there anything cuter than taking pics with your oh-so-fluffy pup or cat? If having your pet be part of the official ceremony just seems like way too much stress, opt for having them in just the photo portion so that you have some beautiful memories of the two of you on your special day, Veronica Silva, owner of Pawfect for You, Inc, a company that helps incorporate pets into weddings, tells Bustle. Just make sure to wipe off any muddy paws or dirty noses before clutching your pet close to your wedding outfit.
5. Acknowledge Them In The Program
A wedding program is a great way to let everyone know who's joined you and your spouse-to-be on the day you tie the knot. It often lists any members of the wedding party and their relationships to the happy couple, and wedding and event planner Brian Worley tells Bustle that this can be a great way to acknowledge your fur baby without having to worry about having them present at the actual event. Simply sneak in a sweet note about your dog (or cat, or hamster) and a photo if you're feeling super sentimental, and your pet will be there with you in spirit.
6. Include Them In The Decor
Pet-themed anything is adorable, so include your pup or cat in the festivities by using a custom sketch of their sweet face on your wedding stationery or cocktail napkins, Heidi Haglund, a wedding planner at The Framework Events, tells Bustle. If you're having a sit-down meal with assigned tables, you might even try placing photos of your beloved animal on each spot for all of your guests to coo over.
7. Include Them On Party Favors
"You can give out party favors incorporating your furry friend — cookies molded to look like your dog could be super unique and yummy," wedding planner Guerdy Abraira, tells Bustle. But don't stop there. Get really creative by giving each guest a "doggie bag" to take home treats for humans or canine cuties from a candy bar or dog treat bar. Or opt for a mini succulent holder shaped just like your sweet pup or cat.
8. Have Them Do "First Look" Photos
If you're familiar with wedding traditions, you've probably heard of the first look, where couples meet privately before the ceremony to spend a precious moment together. Having the pet do first look photos is really charming, Boston’s Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center’s wedding expert, Leah Malin, tells Bustle, this is especially the case if the pet was part of the proposal. This moment of regrouping as a family can be the perfect way to calm any last-minute jitters and take some candid photos you'll treasure for years to come.
Whether you and your partner decide to feature your pet in every part of the wedding or just honor them with a note or some party favors, the day is sure to be pawsitively special.