Do you have a "fur-baby" (or babies!) that you would like to include in your big day?
We have had plenty of ceremonies over the years that have included the furriest of their family within their wedding celebrations.
There are a few things that you should consider when you might like to have your pet included in the day.
Here is a little list of suggestions and thoughts to have a look through...
1) Does your venue allow to have pets attend. This is obviously the first questions you must ask. Because if the answer is "no"... then there's no point looking through any of the other items we're listing below!
If the answer was "yes"... then you're off and running! But there are still some other things to consider.. Is your venue suitable for the type of pet you are wanting to bring? A city hotel isn't really the place for a horse!! You also need to consider how your own pet is too. As they say, "never work with children or pets"... it's not really true - but you do need to think about if your pet would be up to being there him/herself.
Are they sociable around other people?
Are they going to be jumping all over the place... noisy.... or the opposite, are they going to be scared of being in a big crowd? Are there other animals already at your venue that your pet is going to have to get along with?
Also, and probably one of the most important factors to take into consideration, are your guests going to be OK with your pet being there? Is there anyone that might have allergies? Don't forget to include your suppliers in this situation too!! A photographer, Makeup Artist, with an allergy isn't going to be very good on the big day!! So definitely ensure that you go over with your key suppliers who might have direct contact with your pet... or, in the case of photography, who you will be wanting to be documenting them with you!!
2) The next thing to consider is what is your pet and how can they be "involved" in the wedding. Do you have a dog (or dogs) and you'd like them trotting down the aisle before you, with a cute little bow-tie or bandana, or a collar of flowers... purely for the cute-factor? Perhaps, he/she is going to carry the rings (a little box hanging from the collar etc). A cat or a snake, hamster, or fish... lets face it, aren't going to make the grade. But maybe a horse, llama (don't laugh, I have a friend who has a few), or a falcon (yup, had that too!)... they could be included.
3) You do need to consider logistics of your furry (or feathery!) pet being included.
-> How are you going to get them to the wedding.
-> If you're staying at your venue the night before the wedding, is your pet allowed to stay with you too?
-> Who is going to look after them whilst you get yourself ready, while the ceremony is happening, after the ceremony, and during the drinks & dinner receptions?
-> If your pet is only attending the ceremony, who is going to take them home/pet-sit?
A REALLY good idea is to plan out a PET - SCHEDULE for the big day. Time the whole day out in regards to where and what your pet will be doing. This will really help you in making plans on who is looking after your pet, before, during and after the ceremony.
For ease of information, we'll chat about the most common furry being included in weddings; Dogs
So when your beautiful pet has made the guest list, definitely go over the points above
4) In the week prior to the wedding, just like yourselves, we're sure that your lovely pet would love to get pampered. A trip to a groomer - or, DIY - but a lovely wash and dry, or even a little trim of their coat - so they look their absolute best for the big day.
The day prior to the wedding another little wash, if needed, would be good too. Lets face it, the main reason for them being there is so you're going to have awesome photos... so you want them looking their absolute best.
Leading up to the day, it might also be worthwhile (if possible) to take a trip to your venue with your pet. On the day of the wedding, a new place for your pet is going to be very exciting. He/she is going to want to go all over the place, sniffing out all the new smells, checking everything out, being nosey and inquisitive.
So a little pre-visit might help to get some of the excitement distractions out of the way.
You'll also need to arrange who is going to look after your pet after their part in the day is complete. For example, if you're just having your pet at the ceremony... you will need to pre-arrange who is going to look after your pet afterwards. So is it going to be a family member, friend or are you going to hire a pet-sitter to come and take your pet off to their own little overnight holiday. There are wedding suppliers that do exactly this.. so it is worth to have a look around your venue area to see who might be available to you.
5) FOR THE DAY
-You'll need to arrange either for your pet to travel with yourself, or with a family member to get to the venue. Don't forget, you'll need to be arranging all this with plenty of notice to whomever it is, so they themselves schedule it into their plans too.
- Once you are at your venue, you will need to have someone looking after your pet for you. If you have a very well trained dog that is your shadow, and follows you around everywhere (lucky you!!) - that's great. But at some point, you'll be needing to get ready, and at some point you're not going to be able to look after him/her (think toilet walk)
- It's also worth remembering that, like yourselves, your beautiful pet is going to need a few creature comforts. A bed, blanket, bowl, food etc.. So make sure that when you're preparing the journey to the venue that you have these things with you too.
- Arrange for your dog to go for a walk about an hour before the ceremony is due to commence. Again, a bit of a toilet break for them (especially for.... you know....rhymes with boo). The walk should also include a visit to wherever the ceremony is actually taking place too. By this stage, the ceremony area is probably already set up - so seeing flowers, decor, seating etc... get the "sniffs" out of the way at this point.
- Have a place at the ceremony where your dog is going to be during the proceedings. Again, this will be like having their bed or favourite bed blanket set up for them.
Ensure there is a small bowl of water set up (and full). A little kit-bag with some treats, pooh-bags (just in case!), wipes and tissues, set up near-by. So whomever is the minder during the ceremony, they have these things to hand if need be.
- Make sure that whomever is looking after your dog knows where they can take your dog during the ceremony proceedings - just in case an escape plan is needed.
Don't rely on bridal party or other immediate family members at this point... It will be really hard for someone directly included in the wedding itself to be looking after your pet during the proceedings.
6) Immediately after the ceremony has concluded, another little walk-about is a wise choice. If the bridal party are going to get photographed, obviously your dog will be going too. Ensure that the kit-bag goes too!!
7) At this point, there's either going to be a shift in if your dog is staying with you for the duration of the afternoon... or if you have arranged for a pet-sitter to come and collect your dog.
Whatever your choice, I'm sure that your gorgeous pet has loved being with you on your big day!!
** Other things to consider for including your pet in your wedding;
-> What your pet will be "wearing". If you're thinking about a special collar, lead etc. There are some gorgeous floral options (see the photos above!). Nothing looks prettier than your pet in something really cute! But think practical too... it might not last long... you may only be able to put it on immediately before (for example) walking down the aisle - or just for the photoshoot.
Little clothes can look adorable - but make sure your pet can walk properly! Safety over fashion please!
If your pet is being the Ring Bearer... it might be worth considering not putting the "REAL" rings into whatever they are carrying. Have you seen that episode of Frasier!? X-rays were involved...
-> Discuss and write out a Photo plan. Go over options and ideas with your photographer. Make a list of specific photos which you might like to have with your pet/s
Ensure that you put that list in your kit-bag for the day to make sure you don't forget anything important.
-> Having your pet physically at the wedding might not be an option... so there are also ideas to ensure that your pet is still included, even if they have to stay home;
1) Save the Date / Invitations / Stationery - from the start of your planning and announcements of the wedding, you might decide to have a photo-shoot to get some cool photos with your pet to make announcements of the big day to family & friends. This could go all the way through to the big day, with having any of your stationery - menus, order of service, thank you cards etc.. all including photos of your fur-baby
2) A life-size cardboard cut-out. So if your venue isn't suitable, or not animal-friendly, the next best thing would be a cut-out of your pet. Even if it's just for comedic value - sitting the cut-out at the ceremony, or (most definitely) for a few photos... it's a funny way of having a little memory of them being "with" you on the day.
3) Other decorations around the venue... it's not just stationery.. you could get your Table Plan designed with your pet/s in mind. Table names could be family pets names along with photos. Cake toppers can be designed/made with your pet in mind. Even your cake itself could have a little pet theme to it.
4) A mention during your ceremony or speeches. A lovely way of bringing your home-bound pet into the day is to make a special mention of them during the day. Have a reading during the ceremony thats about your pet... During your speech or even, you could make a VERY special mention during your vows!!
5) There is also an idea of even if you don't have a pet yourself - you might just be an animal lover. So you could look at making a donation to a Animal charity - for example, a pet rescue organisation, or a working-dog training fund (Guide dogs, Autistic dogs etc..) All a VERY good cause.
6) Or, it might be that your beloved pet is no longer with you.. so "In Memory of..." might be an idea to have again, a special mention during the day.
So, whether you have a dog, cat, horse, llama, rabbit, guinea pig, donkey.... whomever your fur-baby is... go through our advice before making your final decision. Pets can be absolutely adorable at your wedding - and, as the photos show, it can be a gorgeous memory to have them with you. With proper planning and taking time to consider all aspects of including or having your pet with you - it can be really easy to have them at your wedding.