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Put Your Attendants on a Leash

The best man licked the groom on his way down the aisle. The maid of honor stopped to itch her butt. And you know what? It was adorable.

But including pets in your wedding ceremony isn’t always so adorable. Imagine an excited St. Bernard dragging a screaming flower girl down the aisle. A hungry Labrador sneaking away with half your cake. A rambunctious Dachshund barking through your vows. Pets are unpredictable, and while I love them as much as anyone, these types of scenarios make me a little nervous.

Ok. A lot nervous.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t include your furry besties in your big day. I’m just saying let’s be smart about it. Even the most well-behaved pet can go a little crazy when faced with a big crowd and an unfamiliar environment. When a couple approaches me about wanting to include Fido (or Felix or Thumper) in the wedding, here are some of the things we go over: *Consider your pet’s personality. If your pet gets nervous or excited around people, you might want to skip the ceremony and find other ways to include him or her. I have some ideas, keep reading.

*Consider your own personality. If you tend to freak out over little details and stress when things don’t go right, you may not want to include a pet in your ceremony.

*Consider the venue. Some places just don’t allow pets, so be sure to ask. And if you are having an outdoor wedding, check the weather. Hot weather is dangerous for a best man in a fur coat, so he’s going to need some shade and some water. *Consider the attire. Most animals don’t like to wear clothing. Keep the attire simple so your pet is comfortable. A nice bow tie or flower on the collar is perfect. I’ve seen simple floral wreaths draped around the neck and a tu-tu every now and then. Be sure to test your option out beforehand to avoid any surprises.

*Consider surprises. Hate to bring it up, but all pets poop and pee. Make sure someone is in charge of making sure your pet takes care of business before show time. The alternative makes me a little queasy.

*Consider your crowd. A small, casual crowd of family and friends is probably the only crowd I’d recommend for a pet-inclusive wedding. I’ve had a lot of fun with these types of carefree weddings, but they are not for everyone. And, if you know people have pet allergies, be kind of enough to tell them in advance.

*Consider your options. There are ways to include your pet in your day without sending him or her down the aisle. Take engagement photos with your pet and make those photos a part of your day—think save the date cards, invitations, centerpieces and fun signage. Or, have someone bring your pet while your wedding photos are being taken and snap a great shot or two. Some of these will end up being your favorites, I promise. Other fun options are to simply have someone in the crowd keep your pet with them during the ceremony. Maybe your dog can go for a limo ride with you after the ceremony or escort you into the reception.

*Consider something extra cool. Got a pet horse? Talk about instant photo opportunity! Or take it a step farther and arrange for a horse-drawn carriage. Birds, bunnies, cats and even reptiles can make a wedding day appearance, we just need to be creative and thoughtful when it comes to what’s right (and what’s oh-so-very-wrong).

When it comes down to it, I’ll stand by my motto: your day, your way. Have a little common sense and a back-up plan and there’s no reason man’s best friend can’t be your best man. Good luck!

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