How to include your pet in your wedding
For centuries, brides and grooms have had their nuptials witnessed by their nearest and dearest, and now more pets than ever are appearing on the guest list. If you’re getting hitched and think you may like your pet to play a role in your special day, here are some questions to consider before making your cat best man or asking your dog to be ring bearer…
Should I bring my pet to my wedding?
Even without weather worries, dress disasters, late caterers or missing rings to worry about, your wedding day can be an incredibly nerve-wracking experience and having your pet by your side might just help settle some of those jitters, as long as you take steps to ensure that your pet is comfortable too.
When thinking about the role you want your pet to play, consider their personality. For example, you might want your dog to be maid of honour, but do they get stressed in crowds? If they do and you’re having lots of guests, or if the venue is cramped, it might be better if they didn’t come to your wedding. Be sure not to put your pet through anything that will make them uncomfortable or scared.
A good rule of thumb is to have your pet along for no more than two hours, so they can join in the fun without getting tired or stressed.
How should I plan for my pet on the big day?
If you’ve decided bringing your pet along is an ‘I do’, the first thing to do is find your four-legged friend an assistant for the day. Having someone familiar on hand who can keep your pet company during their duties, take them away from the festivities after a couple of hours, and home when they need to leave, will mean you don’t need to fret about pet care on the day.
Check the venue is pet friendly in advance – you would be incredibly disappointed if you turned up on the big day only to find out your beloved pet isn’t allowed inside.
Notify the photographer (and your pet!). Make sure your wedding photographer and/or videographer knows in advance that your pet will be involved in any shoots so they can think of some creative ideas of how to get them involved. Get your pet used to the camera too; give them a treat every time the camera makes a noise so they associate the sound with something positive and practice poses if you can.
Be treat conscious. Although weddings are typically a time for you to overindulge on multiple courses of food and drink, you should make sure that your pet isn’t doing the same. Give guests a heads up that treating your pet with human food isn’t a good idea as they may not be aware what foods are safe for animal consumption. Raisins in wedding cakes can be fatal to dogs, for example.
Pick your flowers carefully. If your cat’s coming along, make sure bouquets and flower arrangements don’t contain lilies as these are toxic to cats and could see your big day end in an emergency trip to the vet’s.
What should I do if I can’t take my pet to my wedding?
Weddings aren’t right for all pets, and even if your pet would be just fine, you may not want the worry of making sure they’re ok while the festivities of the day are ongoing. If having your pet at your wedding would be stressful for them or you, book them into a friendly pet sitter so you know they’ll be relaxing in safety while you can get on with enjoying yourself – once you’re through those jitters, that is!
Could your pet join you on your honeymoon instead? Britain is blessed with many great dog-friendly escapes so there is no shortage of options for a staycation. If you'd prefer to go abroad, you'll need a pet passport. Ask your vet for advice.