What to Consider Before Including Your Pet in the Wedding

It’s no surprise that many couples opt to include their pets in their weddings. I mean, is there anything more adorable than a dog in a tux? Case in point:

dog in wedding Photo Credit: Joe Mikos Photographers

“A pet plays an important role in a couple’s life and for many pet parents, family festivities would not be complete without their pet’s involvement,” said John D’Ariano, President of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS). “As a result, it's becoming more common for couples to customize their wedding parties to include family, friends, and furry companions.”

But if you’re looking to include your pet, there are a few precautions you need to take. We checked in with the NAPPS for some tips on how to keep your pet safe and happy during the wedding festivities.

Consider Your Pet’s Personality

A pet can be a guest of honor and simply stand with the wedding party during the ceremony, or your pet can have a specific role (ring bearer or flower girl are common roles) in the ceremony. But before giving your pet a starring role, think about whether this will be an enjoyable experience for him. Will your pet feel comfortable around your guests? Is he obedient and well behaved? There’s no guarantee that your pet will behave exactly how you want him to on the day of the wedding. Even the most outgoing and friendly pet can be overwhelmed by a crowd of guests, according to NAPPS.  

dog in wedding
Photo Credit: Snap Weddings

To make sure that your pet has enough time to develop a level of comfort around your guests, consider hiring a pet sitter, who will act as your pet's guide. And if your pet is especially skittish, consider having someone carry him or letting him ride in a wagon. And if he’s overly affectionate or easily distracted, be sure to use a short leash.

dog in wedding
Photo Credit: Justin & Mary (left); Nashan Photographers (right)

Confirm That Pets are Allowed in Your Ceremony Facility

With everything else on your to-do list, it’s easy to forget this simple—yet important—step. You don’t want to show up on the day of your wedding, four-legged ring-bearer in tow, only to be told that he needs to get off the propery, stat.

Can’t bring your pet? You can still include her in the wedding! Include your pet in your portraits after the ceremony:

dog in wedding
Photo Credit: Lucky Pictures

Or in your engagement photos:

dog in wedding
Photo Credit: Parallel 57

At the reception, include photos of your pet on your table number cards, or make your wedding favors in tribute to your beloved pooch. 

dog in wedding
Photo Credit: Expressions Studio (left); Marry This! (right)

Don’t Jeopardize Safety for Style

Planning on dressing your pooch in a tux? Make sure it fits properly and doesn’t create any discomfort for your pet. Keep the accessories simple—a bowtie or flower attached to the collar is a fun way to deck out your pet. Ensure that any accessories won’t come loose and pose a choking hazard to your pet. Be sure to check if any flowers or plants being used at your wedding are toxic to your pet.

dog in wedding
Photo Credit: Dottie Photography

dog in wedding
Photo Credit: Amelia Lyon Photography  

dog in wedding
Photo Credit: Zoom Theory Photography 

Inform Your Guests

Put this information on your wedding website as a warning to anyone with allergies so that they can plan accordingly. 

dog in wedding
Photo Credit: Charlotte Jenks Lewis Photography (left); Two One Photography (right)

bride and groom with their two dogs
Photo Credit: Ashley Rose Photography on The Vines Leaf via Lover.ly

Notify Your Photographer

Prepare your photographer to capture your pet in action. It'll help your photographer prep for those unplanned moments, like when your dog leaps up to kiss you during the vows. Your photographer can also help you brainstorm fun photo ideas with your pets for after the ceremony.

dog in wedding
Photo Credit: Parallel 57 

dog in wedding
Photo Credit: Rebekah J. Murray Photography

Book a Pet Sitter

You have enough to worry about on the day of your wedding—hire a pet sitter to be responsible for bringing your pet to the ceremony, taking him home after, or watching him during the reception. That way, you won't need to worry aboutwho’s feeding the dog (or keeping him away from the chocolate).

dog in wedding
Photo Credit: Rebekah J. Murray Photography 

dog in wedding
Photo Credit: Zoom Theory Photography 

Dogs Aren’t the Only Pets You Can Include!

Love your horse? Ride into the ceremony on her:

dog in wedding
Photo Credit: Amber Davis Photography

Or, head over to the stables after the ceremony for some photos:

dog in wedding
Photo Credit: Jacilyn M

Bring your bunny for some pretty bridal portraits:

dog in wedding
Photo Credit: Jennifer Sullivan Photography

And here's a fun trick for a pet owl: Train him to fly in with the rings tied to his leg!

dog in wedding
Photo Credit: Parallel 57

Tell us, how are you including your pet in your wedding?

—Kristen O'Gorman Klein


Featured: David Tutera on How to Keep Your Reception Fun. See more Q&As with David