Thinking of having your pet at your wedding? Here are a few tips to consider if you should or shouldn't.
Face it, our pets can be or are part of our family, and when it comes to getting married, you may want to include yours. If your groom has a pet as well, you may want to include both. What to consider? You may want to hire a professional pet handler. This way you won't be focusing so much about watching your dog but more on each other and your guest.
1. Their temperament and are they sociable? Can they handle a lot of people around them? Consider their personality. Even though your pet is great while he goes out on walks or the park. Weddings can make even the most outgoing pet unpredictable. They can get nervous and bark all through your vows, and may get nervous around big crowds or small children, because it can be an unfamiliar environment. In the end you know your pet best and can make that judgment call if they will enjoy it or not.
2. Will you hire a pet handler (preferably a professional)? You should think about having someone handle your pet at the event, someone who is not in the wedding party or part of the photos. Other logistics to consider, such as where will your pets hang out when they are not walking down the aisle. Restroom breaks, walks, feeding and where will they be at the reception. A good suggestion is to hire a dedicated pet attendant to take care of your pet during your wedding day for the smoothest transition. Ask the venue of designated area where your pet will be safe with the pet handler as well.
3. Make sure you're wedding photographer is comfortable working with animals. Believe it or not some photographers are afraid of dogs or are allergic to dogs and cats. You may want to talk to your photographer as well as videographer (if you will be having one) while you are going through the interview process. Also, it is wise for your pet to meet your photographer ahead of time, during your meet and greet so that your pet and the photographer will feel a lot more at ease when the day comes. Also, let your photographer know of any special behaviors. Can he take close up photos of you without your pet getting upset about it? Or can the photographer get close to your pet for close up photos? Good to have a bag full of treats, a bone for him to chew on while in waiting or a favorite toy that may help him/her keep their mind busy between takes.
4. Will you have your pet walk down the aisle? Be inside a wooden wagon? Red wagon? Or will he be in a crate on wheels. Does your pet have allergies? These are logistics to think about. This all depends on your pet. Wise to have your pet (s) on leashes at all times when they are outside their crates. If your pet has a tendency to be a runner, it may be best to have a nice sized crate and put it in a wagon and decorate it, make it a safe place for him. You may also want to give him a rehearsal a couple months ahead of the wedding day so that he feels a safe space for him to be as well as taking him to the prior rehearsal and going through the motions with your pet. It's a good idea to take him to populated areas to see how he handles crowded situations as well as more mellow ones and the venue and church where the wedding will take place. Best to know these before the day of your wedding.
5. Will you have children around the pet? Is your pet use to being around children? Let your pet handler know whether your pet should not be touched by others. You may also want to put a sign by his crate to make sure no children stick their fingers in the cage. You may also want to ask about pet insurance for the day or make sure you have that covered in case of any mishaps. Sometimes it is not your pet. Kids can be unpredictable as well around pets, so it's good to take those into consideration to keep everyone safe.
Honestly, it is all about considering your dog's temperament. Is he at ease with meeting and greeting everyone? Does He/She knows basic commands, like "sit", "stay," "quiet" and "laying down"? Is he shy and reserved and frightened around strangers? Does the sight of a crowd or loud noises or music, lasers and disco lights have him whirling in a frenzy? Is your dog still a puppy? Dogs under 2 years old can still be considered young pups. Dogs with anxiety or socialization issues should probably be a no attendee for the wedding date.
Depending on his obedience level and age and personality, you can have different options. Decide on your pet's role.
Dog of Honor - have him walk down the aisle, on a wagon or crate alongside the wedding party, have him sit alongside them during the ceremony. Decorate their leash to fit the wedding theme, get creative.
Flower Dog - Your pet can carry a basket of flowers while your flower girl spreads the petals. Make sure you use non-toxic flowers so your pet does not decide to play, chew or sneak a taste of one.
Ring Bearer - Since your dog doesn't have pockets or thumbs, you can tie the rings to his collar with a custom-made ring holder and tie it to a ribbon.
Honored Guest - If your pet has a more restrained role and is suited to the calmer side, give him a pride of place in the front row, sitting with someone he knows and is familiar with.
Decide if he will also be attending the reception. This may be the time you would want him to be home or put in the holding area that the venue approves as the food, music and noise may be to distracting for him. You also wouldn't want any guest tempted in feeding him any treats or desserts like chocolate which is harmful to dogs.
Check with your church or venue to see what the rules and regulation are, as dogs may not be allowed. If your wedding is outdoors, they may be more amenable to pet guests.
Also, let your wedding party and guest know beside your vendors that a pet will be present, so they can plan so. Prepare a doggy go-bag with food, water bottles, dish, treats, food anything your pet will need for the day.
Choose your dog's wedding attire. Is your pet used to wearing pet attire then dress him up with a wedding theme outfit. Make sure they are comfortable and can carry on at ease without any restrictions. If your pet does not wear attire, the collar and leash is a good place to add ribbon and or (nontoxic) flowers.
Remember to bring your dog to the venue before the wedding date for rehearsals, so he has time to explore and scout out the venue, sniff and release at his leisure. (don't forget plenty of doggie bags). Your pet will be more comfortable on the big day as he had become familiar with the terrain.
Rehearse your dog's role, both at home and at the venue as much as you both can, and if you can have the animal handler come with you that is good as well, so your pet will feel more familiar and getting use to the animal handler, the venue and his role. This way everyone will also know what do, where to go, and what is expected.
If your pet can not make the church or venue. Here are a couple of to do's to add him to your special day. You can show him how important he is.
1. Including him in the save-the-date card, invitation and your web page.
2. Wedding cake topper that displays a dog with the happy couple.
3. Use little dog-themed accessories. Photo holders, paw-print napkins, place cards etc.
4. Send thank you notes with your pet with the both of you as a family photo.
5. Add a photo piece of jewelry to your wedding bouquet or necklace or bracelet.
As you decide to choose either way to adore your pet and add him to your special story, rather he is an attendee or not, you can add creative ways of getting them involved. These are just tips to make it easier to include your pet in meaningful ways. Non present or present! Expect the unexpected! Dogs will be dogs so you may get a jump here and there with less than immaculate paws, a bolt instead of a walk down the aisle, a pee before the wedding starts, a bark here and there. And hopefully a good sense of humor and a great story source to share for years to come.