From a bride using puppies instead of bouquets to a couple hiring their dog as the official videographer of their wedding, it’s clear that couples want to incorporate animals into their ceremonies and receptions—and who wouldn’t want their favorite adorable friends present at their nuptials? Whether you want your dog or cat to be part of your wedding, or you want to make your whole wedding a large pet play date, it’s going to take a little more strategic planning to make sure that all of your guests (both human and furry) are safe and having a good time. Here are a few tips to keep in mind for creating a pet-friendly wedding.
First, Make Sure Your Venue is Pet Friendly
Even if you only want your pet to be present at the wedding, it’s better to be up front with your venue than to sneak one in and possibly face a fee after the wedding is over. Talk to your venue’s wedding coordinator, and frankly discuss what animals will be there and where they will be hanging out.
If your wedding venue is teetering on the edge of saying “yes,” offer to pay an additional pet deposit and offer to pay any damages your pet may cause (and of course be prepared with a waste bag to clean up outside the venue). If you plan on having multiple animals at your wedding, it’s best to choose a venue that has plenty of outdoor space so that they will have space to run around and breathe.
However, if your wedding venue gives a resounding “no,” you can still incorporate your furry friends into your engagement photos, or feature your favorite photos of the three of you at the guest sign-in area.
Hire a Pet Sitter or Have a Designated Escort at the Wedding
Your dog may have passed obedience school with flying colors, but if you put them in a busy environment filled with food, new people, and lots of activity, you never can tell how he or she will react. Since you will be so busy getting ready and taking care of wedding tasks that pop up, it’s best if you hire a pet sitter or designate a friend or family member to be in charge of whichever pet you bring for the ceremony and reception.
Be sure to discuss with your pet sitter or designated friend who is in charge, where you will need your pet (such as for photos), and if there are any restrictions on where they can go. Pack tons of treats and have them ensure that there is always a bowl filled with fresh water inside and outside of the venue. Discuss whether or not the animal will need to be taken home after the ceremony and where they are to be taken afterwards if you are headed to your honeymoon straight away. Having someone available to handle and care for your pet will give you peace of mind and ensure that they have a great time all day.
Be Careful of What Plants You Have
Of course, you don’t have to worry much about your human guests ingesting plants and having to go to the emergency room, but if you have animals at your wedding, you will need to be careful what kinds of flowers you pick for your decor. Flowers like lilies, daffodils, and azaleas are known to be poisonous to dogs (and cats as well in the case of lilies) and should be avoided. For a comprehensive list of what flowers and plants to ditch at a pet-friendly wedding, consult your veterinarian before you talk to your florist or order anything online.
Keep the Food at a Safe Distance
Pets love to get table scraps—not just dogs—and let’s be honest, we love handing them a morsel of food under the table. But on your wedding day you really want to make sure that your furbabies aren’t getting into the food, especially before your guests get a chance to dig in. To avoid any dinner disasters, have your pet sitter or designated watcher keep them occupied so that he or she isn’t tempted to sneak a bite from someone’s plate.
If your wedding is very pet-friendly and you’ve encouraged your guests to bring their own animals, have a few pub tables available so that owners can eat without their pet drooling in their lap the whole time or getting in their face. Also be sure to have a separate eating area for those who wish to dine without animals around.
Warn Your Guests that There Will Be Pets
Of course, most people love and adore animals, but in a large crowd of people there are bound to be at least a couple of guests who are highly allergic or who aren’t that wild about pets in general. To be considerate of your guests, be sure to mention that there will be a pet (or multiple pets) present at your wedding on your wedding website. This way they can come prepared with an inhaler, take an allergy med beforehand, or just be sure that they’re sitting on the opposite side of the ceremony or reception.