Today's Bride

Party Animals: Incorporating Pets Into Your Wedding Ceremony


If you have a cat, dog or even a fish at home – chances are they’ve become a big part of your life. It only makes sense to want to include them in one of the biggest events of your life, too!

Bride and Groom with Cat

Zachary Hunt Photography

While this may have seemed like a strange idea in the past, personalization is taking priority in today’s ceremonies. What better way to insert your personality than to bring your little buddy on board?

If you’re thinking of including a pet in your wedding, there are a few things to consider first. For example, is it appropriate for the kind of ceremony you’re having? Your dog might be adorable at an outdoor ceremony, but not so much in a lavish hotel ballroom. Furthermore, some locations might not permit any animals on premise, so it’s imperative that you check with your ceremony venue before bringing your pup the night of rehearsal.

If neither your ceremony nor your reception venue allows pets, you might still be able to strike a compromise. You could always designate a friend to bring your dog to the location where you’ll be shooting your photos.

Of course, the type of animal you have may also help dictate his role in the wedding. Couples with smaller, less social pets such as lizards, ferrets or guinea pigs might be happy just to have their animal present at the wedding. In this case, you could ask a guest to hold the pet during the ceremony or simply keep the animal nearby in a cage. More social animals like cats and dogs could certainly take on a more active role in your ceremony. Sure man’s best friend can also be man’s best man, but more often than not, you’ll find that the best place for your pooch lies in letting them be the ring bearer, flower dog or simply a member of the wedding party or an honored guest.

One important task that comes with including your pet is making sure you spread the word! You’ll definitely need to inform guests that your pet will be attending – doing so will help prepare those with pet allergies. You’ll also want to notify your photographer to capture your furry friend in action.

And before you even think it – we already know your next question! How can I keep Buddy from tackling Uncle Dave as he’s walking down the aisle? We highly recommend a controlled environment for your pet – both for their safety and for the safety of your guests. Have one of your groomsmen walk your rambunctious puppy down the aisle on a leash or your maid-of-honor carry your kitty down the aisle. (Fair warning: Beware of your pet’s claws – we’re sure you already know they can easily snag fabrics. In order to keep your gorgeous gown intact, you might want to give them a trim before the big day.) While your pet may be extremely well-behaved, it might be advisable to enroll them in a training school to find out what tricks he or she might be able to do at your celebration.

Shelby Rae Photographs | Bride and Groom with Dog | As seen on

Shelby Rae Photographs

Feather & Twine | Bride and Groom with their pups | as seen on

Feather & Twine

After making the decision to include your pet and deciding on their role, it’s time for the outfits! Oh, the outfits! When it comes to animal attire, couples have tons of options. Of course, you can always choose not to adorn your animal, but where’s the fun in that? Give your guests something to “aww” and “ooh” by dressing your Tabby in a tutu or sending your Labrador pup down the aisle in a miniature tuxedo.

And as far as accessories are concerned, the options are endless. Bow ties, top hats and veils tend to be the most popular pet accessories for weddings. You can even up the personalization factor by having a special collar made with your wedding date spelled out in glitzy jewels!

While we’re sure your pet is the cutest thing ever (especially in a bow tie!), it’s important for us to point out that not all pets are suited for a wedding.  Before choosing to include them in your ceremony, you need to assess his temperament. Is he friendly or aggressive? Does he make a lot of noise? Does he steal food? If your pet’s disposition doesn’t lend itself to this type of formal situation, don’t try to mold him into the perfect lapdog during your last month of planning. You’ll already have enough to do, and you don’t need the additional stress.

Beyond that, any couples who are considering including their pet at their ceremony also need to evaluate themselves. Truth is, animals are spontaneous. We can’t promise that your dog won’t dart away at the first sight of a squirrel. Do you and your groom both have laidback, confident personalities that can handle that? Are you both sure you won’t mind having a little bit of your spotlight stolen? If you’ve weighed the options and giving up a little bit of your thunder still isn’t as important as having your pet there, then we say go for it!




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