I’m writing this article for two reasons. First and foremost, I wanted a sneaky way to show off photos of my dog from my wedding. Second, I learned a lot from having Esther be a part of our big day, and I think these tips are worth sharing.
Note: This article is specifically about dogs in weddings because this is all I know. But if you want your beloved cat, rabbit or iguana to be a part of your wedding day, I strongly urge you to do so.
Here are my five tips for involving your pet in your wedding.
(1) Include your pet in your engagement photos.
Not only was this the best way for us to learn about what Esther could and could not handle, but being able to interact with her helped make this awkward photo session less cringe-worthy.
(2) Hire a helper
The best decision we made was to pay my friend’s sister to be a dog chaperone during our after-ceremony photos. This way, Esther could be taken out of the shot anytime we wanted (or more accurately anytime she wanted).
Esther’s helper also drove her back to the hotel when the reception started. This allowed us to let loose without having to worry about where she was or what kind of donut she was eating off the floor.
(3) If you’re traveling for your wedding, buy a sound machine
Is this a weird suggestion? Yes. Is it one of the best pet-in-wedding tips? You bet.
Most dogs aren’t used to staying in unfamiliar places (like a hotel) and can be very reactive to new noises. We knew that hallway sounds would make Esther think that someone was coming to play with her (she’s a narcissist) so we bought a sound machine to drown out all noises.
We put it on several times leading up to the wedding to get her used to it, and let me tell you, it worked wonders.
The last thing you want is your hotel calling you during the rehearsal dinner saying that your dog is going ballistic inside your room.
(4) Check with vendors
You don’t want any surprises on your wedding day, so make sure each and every vendor knows that your pet will be in attendance. Here are some specific questions and requests to get you started:
Venue: There’s, of course, the obvious question: are pets permitted at your venue? If yes, do they need to be kept on a leash? Are they required to leave after the ceremony, once food is served or can they party all night?
Transportation: Does your limo or bus company allow animals? (Our limo service gave Esther a big thumbs down, so she had to catch a ride with our wedding planner.)
Florist: Request they use non-toxic flowers, especially if they’re decorating the collar/leash.
[Agenda related guide: 10 coolest wedding venues in Charlotte — and their cost]
(5) Finally, and most importantly, ignore everyone else’s opinions
If we would have listened to other people, Esther would not have been included in our wedding. We’re so glad we didn’t listen.
I get it, weddings can be stressful, and people will remind you that planning for a pet can make it more complicated. But if it’s important for your pet to be there, ignore them. It’s not their day to look back on forever.
I’ll leave you with one last thing to remember: Your pet doesn’t know it’s your wedding day.
So, if they choose to poop while walking down the aisle or refuse to walk down the aisle at all (ahem, Esther) just roll with it. They’re doing their best, and it will make for a funny wedding video.