So, you’re thinking of getting married. Congratulations! You’ll probably want all your loved ones to celebrate your newfound eternal love with you. As you try to remember all the names to add to your guest list, don’t forget to include your family’s cutest members: your animal companions.
Consider your fur baby
You know your animal companion best. Is your best friend – the golden retriever who’s been by your side for years – a people person? Would your fur daughter – the puspin you saved from the streets as a child – prefer to stay at home, away from all the hullabaloo?
Be sensitive to their needs; consider their personality and history. Exposing your pet to loud noises like those from a crowded party might damage their ears. Dogs have been known to exhibit erratic behavior and cats have been observed to become inactive after encountering loud noises, according to Emotional Support Animal, Co.
If your animal companion was a rescue and came from a hostile environment, they might not be comfortable being surrounded by strangers. Fret not, because you can always let your pet assume a role that won’t cause them much stress and you can make the necessary arrangements to ensure they’re comfortable on your special day.
Propose with your fur baby
Too nervous to pop the question alone? You can ask your furry friend to help you!
Propose to your significant other with your fur baby as witness. Just having them with you will give you strength and comfort, no matter what happens.
Find venues that allow animals
Not every church allows animals, and hotels that allow pets are even rarer. Ask the venues you’re interested in if they can allow you to bring animals and under what conditions.
Offer to have animal companions leashed or kept in a pet stroller the entirety of your wedding if the venues don’t usually allow pets to roam freely. The venue might have a holding room where non-human family members can hide out away from the rest of the party. The hotel might ask you to use their service elevator when transporting them.
Prepare to write a formal letter of your request and have them confirm their approval in writing. You won’t want any misunderstandings on your big day.
Include them in your engagement photoshoot, save-the-date, and invitation
This is a low-stress role that doesn’t involve your pet meeting tons of new people. Let your guests know that your fur baby is an important part of your union while also protecting your pet from the noise of the actual celebration.
If your pet will be attending your wedding and/or reception, inform your guests that they will be present. Some of your friends or relatives might be allergic to pets, so this will give them time to prepare for the event (i.e., stock up on antihistamines). While your pet’s hair is not an allergen, it can collect allergens like urine, dead skin cells, and saliva, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
Shy animals? No sweat!
Low-stress ways of including animals companions in your wedding include featuring them in your thank-you notes after the wedding, decorating your wedding and reception venues with their photos, and having your cake topped with an animal figurine to keep the bride and groom figurines company.
Make them part of your wedding entourage
If your dog can walk down the aisle without trouble, he can act as your ring bearer (with a bowtie to boot)! Perhaps your non-human family member could be the perfect flower girl (wrap her leash with flowers) or flower girl’s companion.
If necessary, you can have an animal rehearse at the venue beforehand. If your fur baby can’t walk down the aisle, you could push them down the aisle in a stroller. You could also carry a fur baby as your bouquet, provided they aren’t too big to be carried!
Whatever you decide, the ceremony will definitely be more meaningful with your animal best friend by your side as you recite your vows which, by the way, you could also write them into.
Things to remember
1. You won’t be with your fur baby the entire day. At some point, you’ll have to mingle with your guests or have your first dance with your spouse. Hire a pet sitter or ask someone you trust to watch over your pet whenever you are unable to.
2. Prepare for their needs before the big day. Set up a package full of poop baggies and pet food. You might want to let them wear a collar with your name and contact information on your wedding day. If your cat will be coming, have a little litter box ready for them, too.
3. It’ll be tempting to dress up a beloved animal in a dashing tuxedo or gorgeous gown, but don’t get carried away. If your venues aren’t air-conditioned, dressing up an animal might lead to heatstroke. This is especially true if an animal companion is extra furry, short-nosed, young, old, or overweight, according to Banfield Pet Hospital. If you expect the venue to be quite warm, arrange to have a fan placed near them to keep them cool.
4. You and your spouse-to-be might have pets who have never met. Make sure your pets get along before the wedding day, if you plan to have them all celebrate with you.
This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s June 2019 issue.