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Weddings are undoubtedly one of the only times where family and friends come together to celebrate and exchanging vows is arguably the biggest and most significant party of our lives. For many people, one of the most important family members is of the four-legged variety and it makes perfect sense that you would want your fur-baby involved on your big day. Having a pet as the guest of honour at your wedding is a great idea but it’s always sensible to plan ahead to make sure everything runs smoothly. In this week’s blog, we explore how you can successfully hold a fabulous wedding with your pet.

Including your pet at your wedding is a lovely idea and since your pet is likely to be one of your best friends, you might wonder why anyone would object. It is very important that you decide early on in the planning process how involved you want your pet to be. Check with your preferred venues that they are happy to have your pet present and to what extent.

Wedding with your pet

Some venues may say they do not accept guests of the non-human variety. However, they may be happy to compromise if you explain that you would like your pet to attend for just part of the day, perhaps just for the ceremony or during the evening. When considering venues, outdoor, rustic settings are more likely to accept pets and your four legged buddy will probably feel more comfortable in this type of place.

It’s a wise idea to speak to your photographer to ensure they have experience of photographing animals. Including your pet in photographs may require a little more time to set up the shots than when simply dealing with coordinating guests. If your pet is going to be part of your ceremony, make sure they are able to be looked after and comforted by someone familiar to them. This will give them some stability so they can enjoy the day too.

Place them in an area where they can be taken outside easily if they make any noise, the focus should be on you after all! Pay some attention to your guest list. If you have guests with allergies or phobias, your ceremony seating or table plan may need a little extra work to ensure everyone, including your pet, is comfortable and is able to enjoy the day.

Food and drink is a huge part of any wedding. Making sure that your pet can’t hurt themselves by eating rich food, some of which might be harmful for them, is key. Check with your venue to see if they can cook a special meal for your pet so that they can really be part of the day. You might even consider a bespoke cake that your pet can safely enjoy.  Special care should be taken to ensure your four-legged buddy has a quiet place to rest and access to water, their bed and a cool patch of shade to rest in.

If you are planning a destination wedding, you will probably be staying away from home for a period of time. Many hotels are now happy to accept pets on site but do check before you book. You may like to consider looking for a private short term rental property, which is pet-friendly where your furry friend can be taken for breaks throughout the day. Holiday let sites such as Airbnb are a great place to start your search as you are able to filter properties depending on requirements.

Wedding with your pet

The search for the most important outfit you are ever likely to wear begins early when planning a wedding. Dressing your pampered pet in a matching outfit is a great choice. If your pet doesn’t cope well with wearing a full on tux or lacy gown, opt for a collar, bow or neck ribbon in colours which match your theme. Adding a collar corsage to with flowers used at the wedding is a pretty idea. Do try the chosen outfit out before your big day though. Make sure it isn’t too tight or scratchy, the last thing you want is a wriggly pet trying to escape from an uncomfortable outfit while you are exchanging your vows!

When considering who to allocate the traditional wedding roles to, why not give your pet a job to do. We can’t think of anything sweeter than having your best four-legged friend as the ring bearer!

Of course, human guests have had plenty of practice at behaving themselves at weddings… mostly! However, your celebration is possibly the only wedding your pet will ever attend. Start slowly by introducing your pet to the venue. Run a couple of rehearsals so that your pet gets to know this new, unfamiliar place and begins to know what to expect on the day. If your pet is nervous around crowds, consider having them take part in just a small part of your day, perhaps just the ceremony. There are now companies who offer on-site day care for pets during events and it’s well worth allowing some of your budget to have this service available on the day.

Wedding with your pet

If, after everything is taken into consideration, you decide that having your pet at your wedding is not going to work, it doesn’t mean you can’t still incorporate them into your special day. Why not consider working your pet into your theme. Name a table after your pet or use names which relate to their breed or type. You could have a framed picture of your four-legged friend on your cake table or pet-shaped name cards. Your save the date cards or wedding invitations could contain a subtle nod to your pet as could the music play-list – Elvis Presley’s ‘Ain’t Nothing But A Hound Dog’ for example!

If you prefer to ask for donations to a charity rather than having a gift list, you could consider an appropriate animal charity. If having your pet in your wedding photos is important to you, speak to your photographer to see if you can arrange a photo-shoot a few days after the wedding. This is a great opportunity to dress in your wedding finery once again and enjoy a relaxed atmosphere where you can focus only on your pet.

You only have to type a relevant hashtag into Instagram, Pinterest or any other social media site to see how popular having your pet at your wedding is. Try #dogsatweddings, #catsatweddings or #petsatweddings to see what we mean! Having your pet at your wedding is a lovely, personal touch and one which will ensure your wedding is remembered for many years to come.

Lisa Lloyd

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