Updated: Oct 13, 2020
You've likely watched the scene in a Hallmark movie; Two strangers meet in a dog park, fall madly in love, and head down the aisle with their adorably dressed fur friends by their side. Guests ooh and ahh over the cuteness, and the photographer captures it all! Wouldn't it be great if life played out as seamlessly in reality as it does on tv? It's understandable why Brides and Grooms would want to include their pets in their wedding ceremony. Still, there are some important considerations that every couple should evaluate before the decision.
The most important and, generally obvious, thing to think about is the pet's temperament. Even the best-behaved fur, scaled, and feathered companions can get skittish in large crowds and unfamiliar places. You must have realistic expectations for your beloved animal. If you possess any doubts about your pet's social skills, then it is best to involve them in another way. Fortunately, there are numerous creative options to include them without jeopardizing their comfort or yours. Consider, for example, featuring them in your save-the-wedding-date photo magnets, or as part of your reception's video slideshow. Whatever manner you choose to honor them, your pet, and its role in your love story will add an entertainment element to your marriage chapter that guests of all ages will enjoy.
Once you've ruled out behavioral red-flags, you'll want to check with your venue's pet policy. Outdoor ceremony spaces make an ideal setting, and country event vendors are typically more willing to host four-legged and flying guests. With your venue's permission secured, it's a wise idea to decide if you want to carry the pet or have them walk down the aisle - if you'll dress them in a bowtie or let them go au-natural. If you do go the costume route, it's advantageous to test their tolerance ahead of time.
Guest experience matters when you want your wedding to leave a positive impression on others. A recent survey by the Insurance Information Institute found that a whopping sixty-seven percent of U.S. households, or about eighty-five million families, own a pet. Though the numbers are staggering, they don't guarantee that your wedding guests will appreciate your pet's presence. There's always the possibility that the idea will turn someone off. If you want to demonstrate admirable concern, then make the thoughtful choice to let guests know ahead of time that your animal will be participating in your special day.
No matter how detailed and well prepared your animal inclusion plan is, flexibility remains the key. Like ring bearer's and flower girls, pets can develop stage fright. Throw performance expectations to the wind, hope for the best, and enjoy your wedding day!