For us animal lovers, incorporating our beloved cat, dog or even horse into your wedding day is really important. They are our companions, and so having them play a part at your wedding can make the day that much more special. Whether you’d love to have your dog as your ringbearer, ride down the aisle on your horse, or just get a picture with your cat – there are certain things you will need to consider ahead of time, to make the experience stress free for your fur-baby, and for you.
Incorporating animals into your wedding
First of all, you need to talk to your wedding venue about bringing your pet. Having animals at your wedding may be really important to you – but it might not be possible at your wedding venue. For example, if they have free range birds or are a working farm, then introducing outside animals may not be possible. We were not able to bring our labrador Ruger to our wedding ceremony for this reason. Definitely talk to your wedding venue coordinator ahead of time so there’s no nasty surprises when you rock up with your dog on the day.
Having your dog as your ringbearer
This is a dream of many, and it can make for some pretty darn cute photographs! Here are my tips for having your dog as a ring bearer.
- Consider your dog’s temperament. How will your dog go with crowds of people milling around? Will your dog get hyped up with a large crowd of people, or go shy and try hide between your legs?! You don’t want to upset or stress your fur baby out. If your dog gets over-excited around too many people, instead of entering down the aisle, get your dog to wait at the top of the aisle with the groom and groomsmen.
- Who will look after your dog? Hopefully you have someone familiar to your pet that can look after him/her, transport them to the venue and make sure they’re happy. Ideally, if you have a high energy dog, get this person to take them for a decent walk a couple of hours before, so they’ve burnt off some energy and have a chance to get any err…business… done in private. The dog handler doesn’t necessarily have to be the person to lead them down the aisle – but whoever takes them down the aisle should be a familiar person to the dog too. It’s best to be someone outside of the wedding party, as they may need to take the dog home shortly after photos.
- Practice makes perfect. Practice as much as possible with whoever will be handling the dog, to make sure the dog will be happily led down the aisle will sit and stay, so that your best man can get the rings off their collar. Make sure your dog gets lots of treats and praise!
- Get used to the venue – this goes hand in hand with practicing! Make sure your dog has visited a few times before, so that he/she is used to the smells and noises. If your venue has a wooden or polished stone floor, make sure your dog is surefooted and comfortable with getting around on it.
- Water hazards. If you have a hunting dog you know what I mean. If there’s a pond, they’ll find it. If there’s water, they’ll swim in it. You won’t want a wet dog potentially shaking themselves off when they get to the front! Not to mention, potentially losing the rings in their quick dip. The handler will need to keep them on a tight leash if there’s any water nearby.
- How to secure rings on the dog. The best option is to find a small pouch which you can tie to your dogs collar. You might like to “fake” this and get the best man to pretend to get the rings from a pouch around your dog’s neck – that way, your expensive jewellery is kept safe!
- Cute outfit? If you are thinking of getting your pup a cute outfit to wear, again, practice with it on! Especially if you don’t usually dress your dog up. Also, get whoever is handling your dog to put it on as late as possible. That way it 1. won’t get dirty and 2. will be annoying your dog for a shorter amount of time. If you’re not planning on a special outfit, perhaps you can get your dog a shiny new collar and new lead for the occasion.
Riding your horse – down the aisle or for photos
Having your horse at your wedding has similar considerations to bringing a dog, but at a larger scale. Here are some extra tips that Jo at Grandview Gardens had for a bride that was considering this in the Southern Bride Community:
- Practice riding together in the paddocks with white sheets flapping over the horse to get them used to the feel of your dress flapping around.
- What are you wearing? You’ll need to consider this carefully. Retain your modesty by picking a full skirted wedding dress, that’s full and wide over your hips, and reaches the ground to cover the wither and go over the horse’s back (but hopefully not too long as to tickle the flank).
- Can you ride side saddle? This might be an option (as that’s how women got round back in the day) but if you and your horse are not used to riding side saddle, don’t try for this one off occasion.
- Keep your horse off the green grass the day before and the day of!
Getting wedding photos with animals
The biggest challenge will be getting your pet to where you are taking photos, so if you want a special photo with your cat, for example, then you might be best to get some photos taken at home. Below is a picture I got with my cat Morris before we left for the wedding ceremony.
I would talk to your photographer if you want photos with your pet, and have plenty of treats and toys on hand to keep their interest! If you have the opportunity, an engagement photo shoot with your pet might be the best option, as there will be less distractions and you don’t have to worry about muddy paws ruining white dresses or rented suits!
I would love to hear if you’re planning on incorporating your fur-babies into your wedding day, and if you have any extra tips or tricks that I haven’t covered here.