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Getting Married the Purr-fect Way

060815-petsatwedding-01Raise your hand if this describes you: You’re the couple who dotes on their pet the way a parent spoils a child. He or she has top-notch health care, brand-name food, a comfy bed, and toys scattered all over the house.

Your cat or dog – or cats or dogs — isn’t just a pet; they’re a member of the family!

So it’s only natural that you want to include this member of your family in your big day. But, like children, animals can be unpredictable. They may or may not perform according to plan. If you’re the type of couple who wants your wedding day to follow your plans exactly, think twice about including your pet in your ceremony.

If you’re OK with some unpredictability (and great photos!), read on.

Before you make too many pet-related plans, ask your ceremony and reception sites whether your pet will be allowed. Outdoor locations like parks are more likely to allow pets; a church may not. Find out what the rules are before you make plans for Rover and Fluffy. If pets are a no-no, arrange with your photographer to take pictures at a pet-friendly location so your best friend can be included.

The second item to consider is your pet’s personality. How does he or she handle crowds? Is the animal comfortable around strangers or in new situations?

Undoubtedly, the easiest pet to incorporate into your ceremony is a dog. You can ask one of your attendants to walk down the aisle with your dog; this is a great job for a responsible junior bridesmaid or older flower girl. Your pooch can carry the rings on a pillow tied around his neck or middle. The dog should be leashed, of course. (In fact, your location may require this.) We’ve also heard about dogs riding down the aisle in a wagon or standing in as “attendants” for the bride or groom. You may want to sign your dog up for training classes several weeks before the wedding.

If you’ve got a cat, consider having an attendant bring her down the aisle in a basket. Or, if you’re afraid Kitty might get spooked and run away, decorate her carrier with ribbons matching your wedding colors and ask someone to carry her that way. If your cat is amenable to it, walk her down the aisle on a leash; believe it or not, some cats can be leash-trained. Halters are better than collars because they’re harder for Kitty to slip out of.

What about other pets? A birdcage or aquarium can be set on a table behind you, allowing Polly or your goldfish to be part of the action.

Some more planning tips:

  • Ask a friend to keep an eye on your pet during the ceremony and have plenty of water and treats handy. Don’t leave your pet alone in a strange place. This person can also take your pet for a walk if it gets restless during the ceremony.
  • Be prepared for barks and meows to interrupt your ceremony and cause lots of laughs.
  • Include your pet in your photos!
  • If your pet is coming to the reception, bring food for him or her to eat and ask guests not to feed your pet table food. If your pet is not coming to the reception, arrange for someone to pick him up at the ceremony and bring him home or to a kennel. Never leave your pet in the car, even with the windows cracked, especially during the hot summer months.
  • Let your officiant and vendors know your pet will be participating in the ceremony. Some officiants may not let you include your pet.
  • Bring your pet to your ceremony site before the wedding and include her in the rehearsal.
  • Make a grooming appointment for your pet — you want him looking his best! You can even buy bride and groom outfits for your pet or put a matching bow or flowers on her collar.
  • Let Rover or Fluffy off the hook if your pet gets a case of the nerves at the rehearsal or on the wedding day.