How To Include Pets In The Wedding

How Wedding Planners Can Include Pets In The Wedding

Here are 10 ways that planners can help their couples include pets in the wedding. Whether it’s up-front or subtle, these ideas will inspire.

Furbaby. Four-legged child. Floof. There are so many words we use to describe our family pets, and all of them convey just how much they’ve come to mean to us in modern life. Dogs and cats (and other more exotic pets, too) are cherished members of the family. While some people might express this in ways that might make others giggle – dressing up their pets (not just at Halloween) and even walking around with them in baby carriers and strollers – there’s no doubt that humanity owes a lot to its furry friends. Especially after they helped us get through some pretty lonely lockdowns in the recent past. 

A dog at a wedding
Photo by Vasylyna Kucherepa

So it’s no wonder that so many engaged couples planning their weddings want Fluffy or Fido to play a starring role in their big day. While the thought of including animals in a ceremony might make some wedding planners worry about logistics and restrictions, it’s totally possible to deliver a memorable wedding where all the guests – including the four-legged ones – have an unforgettable time. Below are ten ways that pets can be included to make your couples’ big day perfect.

Related: How To Include The Bridal Party In The Wedding

1. Ruff-Ruff Ringbearer or Furry Flower Girl

 Granted, this idea to include pets in the wedding will work a lot better with dogs. Is there anything cuter than a bow-tie-wearing dog walk down the aisle with rings attached to its collar? Or what about a flower-crowned puppy walking with the flower girl? Add a matching dress and a basket on the doggy’s back for the petals, and you’ve got picture gold! 

There are tons of doggy ring bearer options on Etsy for purchase or inspiration!

2. Man’s Best Friend As The Best Man

Friendship is not limited to existing only within the same species. Dogs are man’s (and woman’s) best friend. So what could be more natural than having a dog, cat, or other pet as the best man/maid of honor? There are some incredibly adorable photos out there of pets filling precisely those roles. If you want to surprise your wedding guests with oodles of cuteness while honoring the pet’s special role in its family’s life, this is the way to go.

3. Doggy Decor

From cake toppers in the shape of cute kittens to paw-print placeholders, using the couples’ pet as decoration is only limited by your own creativity. But it’s a fun and straightforward way to include pets in the wedding. And really, with Pinterest and Reddit, and other avenues to explore, there are so many ways to incorporate pets into the entire wedding theme. 

Some of my favorite ideas are the aforementioned cake toppers, invitations with illustrations of pets, and “doggie bags” emblazoned with a pet’s face used to take home some extra sweets at the end of the ceremony. 

4. Signature Cocktails

One really incredible trend that I’ve read about lately is couples who work with mixologists to create signature cocktails named after pets and inspired by their personalities. A rather bubbly Jack Russel could have a drink in his honor featuring Jack Daniels and lemon-lime soda. Or a sophisticated French poodle could perhaps show off her regal attitude with a Vieux Carré, featuring whiskey, sweet vermouth, Benédictine, and Peychaud’s bitters. The options are as endless as the idea is creative.

5. Puptastic Pictures

Perhaps the most lasting memento of the big day will be the photographs captured throughout the event. A good photographer will know how to include pets in the wedding with gorgeous, intimate photos of the happy couple and their pets. And find creative ways to feature them in other pictures. Like ones with family, friends and the wedding party, and candids! 

Dog wearing a dress
Photo by Christina Victoria Craft

Featuring the couple’s beloved pet will double the meaning of their wedding photos. Not only will they look back on the day they got married, but because animals sadly do not live as long as we wish they did, they’ll have so many beautiful photos to cherish when their sweet fluffy boy or girl is no longer with them. 

6. Walking the Bride Down the Aisle

The truth is, not every bride will have a father figure in her life to walk her down the aisle as tradition dictates. Perhaps instead of finding another man to take the honored role, the bride would consider having her beloved pet by her side. It’s a touchingly sweet tribute to the relationship between her and her pet that would no doubt have many people at the ceremony pulling out their handkerchiefs! 

A dog walking down the aisle
Photo by Kadyn Pierce

7. Subtle Homage

Perhaps the logistics of having their pet at the ceremony just won’t work out for your couple. It could be guests with allergies, or venue policy make it impossible to include pets in the wedding. The reason doesn’t matter. What does matter is that there are many subtle ways to include a beloved pet – even one that has passed away – into the big day. Consider subtle lace embroidery on the bride’s veil to a silhouette printed on the groom’s pocket square. 

8. Dancing

Is there anything cuter than seeing little kids dancing at wedding receptions? Well, I think seeing dogs happily zooming around the dance floor comes pretty close. Depending on the dog’s temperament and the type of venue, including them during the dancing (or at least for one or two special dances) could be a fun-filled way of keeping the reception lighthearted and the guests laughing. 

9. Photo Booth Props

A huge trend in weddings has been to have a photobooth for the guests to enjoy and make memories in. It’s so much fun to pile into the booth with your friends. Or have a romantic moment caught on camera with your date. But imagine how much more fun it could be with pet-themed props. From giant cutouts of a cat’s face to taking the pet itself in for a cute photo-op, this is a fun and fabulous way to celebrate the bride and groom’s beloved animal.

10. Giving Back

 I’ve been a proud owner of three dogs, and all of them were rescues. Our first two dogs were adopted from a humane society. Our third was from a family member considering a shelter if no one could take in her dog that she could sadly no longer care for. While adopting dogs from shelters isn’t a path everyone takes, chances are, if your couple has done just that, it’s something they’re passionate about. So passionate, in fact, that instead of traditional wedding gifts, they might find that asking for donations to their local humane society or other animal rescue charity might be the icing on the cake of their perfect day.

Related: Wedding Charities: How To Make Charitable Giving A Part Of Your Event

Understanding Your Client’s Story

If a bride and groom want to include pets in the wedding, it’s for a good reason. Take time to understand the couple, their pet, and their story. Maybe they rescued their dog from a puppy mill. Perhaps they got their cat after a loss or bereavement. Or maybe they just really are head-over-heels for their little furball. 

Get to know the whole family and find ways to incorporate the unique elements of their personality and their history into the ceremony. Above all, don’t belittle people’s love for their pets. While you might not be an animal lover yourself, it’s essential to keep an open mind and not brush off just how important their pet is to your clients. Being able to say you pulled off a pet-themed wedding will show your future clients that you are adaptable and open-minded. And will do anything to deliver a perfect wedding day.

And when it comes to planning the perfect pet-friendly wedding day timeline, ThymeBase’s event planning software makes it a breeze.