Weddings are a day filled with laughter and joy, friends and family. The guest list can sometimes be one of the greatest challenges, figuring out whom to invite and the special few to be a part of the wedding party. A wedding is one of the most important days of a couples lives, and it is always a balance of budget and making sure that no loved one or close friend is left out.
For many of us who have animal companions, we know that they, too, are a huge part of our lives and a member of our family. They are there for us with unconditional love – and comfort us in times of sorrow and play with us in times of joy. We often have them in our lives longer than some of our friends, and we know that when you find a life partner, he or she must gain approval from our companions to truly be a part of our lives. So it is only befitting that on a wedding day, many couples opt to include their special companions in the festivities. Bride’s Magazine conducted a survey in 2011 that indicated 5% of weddings include a dog in the ceremony. In 2013, CNN also reported on this growing trend last year, with the notable wedding of Adam Sandler who had his dog as ring bearer.
As with any part of the wedding, it is important to plan accordingly for every single element, including having your faithful companion as an honored guest or part of the wedding party. If you are planning to include your feline or canine (or other furry) companions in your wedding, here are a few helpful tips.
Is your venue pet friendly? Before you go through the planning, make sure your ceremony and reception venue offer options and accommodations for their care. If you really want to make sure they are included, you will also make sure you have time to spend with them in comfortable surroundings and quality time.
Make sure they are good with crowds and new surroundings. While some dogs and cats love people, others can be very nervous or shy in new surroundings. You also want to make sure they are restrained with a leash so that if an errant “squirrel!” runs by you aren’t running after them.
Alert your wedding professionals involved. Make sure everyone knows there is a special guest that needs to be included in photos and video. You can also arrange for special attire or grooming for their big moment to join you.
As you are planning the menu, don’t forget to take care of their dining needs, too. Make sure they have a nice meal and water, as well as a place to relieve themselves that is NOT at the ceremony spot!Remember that they are unpredictable. Unless you have gone through some serious training, remember that your dog or cat may not react as you expect. It is not different than including a small child who may become disoriented or scared. Be prepared that when the moment comes, it may be a little overwhelming.
Consider who will care for them when you are busy. Often times, couples will be very busy with the different festivities for the wedding such as meeting with guests, rehearsal dinner, and day at the salon. If you can’t be with them, consider who can care for them in your absence, so they are not left alone.
Consider travel and hotel accommodations. You think travel is traumatic for you? Consider the basics of getting through airport security, making sure you have their food and water, and there are areas for them to do their business during the trip. Destination weddings may pose travel challenges, but if you are hosting the ceremony at home it will be easier to get him or her acquainted with a trip to the ceremony or reception location ahead of time.Make sure it is right for everyone.
Finally, while you may absolutely love the idea of including Fido or Mr. Mittens in the ceremony, make sure you are looking out for their best interest, too. If it ends up being too traumatic for them, you may be better off having a special play date with them once you return.