If you and your significant other love your pet…or pets…this article is for you! In honor of #NationalPetDay (April 11) we’ve compiled some of our favorite ways to honor your pet in this important chapter of your love story.
You figure out roles for the loved ones in your life for your big day. You choose the bridal party, select someone to say a special reading, and even figure out special ways to acknowledge those who you have lost. But oftentimes, “fur babies” become a last minute thought! Here are ten ideas for how to include your pet in your wedding or the season of your engagement.
Ways to Incorporate Your Pet Before the Big Day
Engagement: If your significant other has elevated their pet to be an important part of their life, or the pet has played a role in your love story, then include them in the marriage proposal! Get a custom ID tag or bandana with “will you marry me” written on it. If you want to take it over the top, purchase a special outfit (like a ‘dog tuxedo’) so they’re dressed for the occasion.
Engagement Session: This is one of the easiest ways to showcase your pet, without some of the added stress that can come from including them at the wedding. Engagement photoshoots are often more casual and have the opportunity for multiple settings. This is a great way to include them, and you’ll feel thankful to have a professional photo of your whole family…paws and all. (And did you hear? We’re currently offering a free engagement session, when you purchase a wedding package! Ask about this special here.)
Wedding Hashtag: Ok, this one is for the ultimate pet lovers. When you’re deciding on your wedding hashtag, consider pet-friendly words that might pair nicely with the others you have in mind. Include a play on words with your pet’s name, breed, or simple terms like “paw.”
Save-the-Date: Feature one of the professional photos of you two with your pet on your wedding save-the-date or invitation. If you just have personal photos that aren’t the best quality, add them to a collection of other photos featured on your wedding website.
Ideas to Include Your Pet in the Wedding Ceremony
Even if you’re getting married locally, it might not be feasible to have your pet physically attend the wedding. Maybe they have a timid personality, are a very large breed, or are more unique…have you ever seen a hamster or tortoise at a wedding? Consider how they are in settings which are foreign to them, and what their energy is like around big crowds. That will help guide you on whether to honor them or directly incorporate them into the festivities.
Here’s how to include your pet in your wedding:
Accessories: If you want to give a subtle nod to the pet in your life, incorporate them into your styling! Grooms: get a photo printed on customized socks, on the back of your tie, or the inside of your suit jacket. Ladies: carry a photo of them as a charm on your bouquet or incorporated into a custom clutch. (This is a great way to feel close, without actually having them there.)
Wedding Gift: Exchanging gifts with your significant other before the ceremony? Pick your favorite photo of the two of you with your pet to put in a special frame to have hand delivered to them beforehand. Or, take it over the top with a surprise photo placed in your frame. Get a photo captured of your pet in a special setting, or you and your pet together. Put a bow-tie or top hat on your pet, and dress nice. Hold up a sign that says “You stole our hearts so we’re taking your last name” or “We can’t wait to be a family” or “Best day ever (with your wedding date.)” Your spouse-to-be will be surprised and reminded of the family which you are creating together.
Just for Photos: Want to physically include your pet in the big day, without the hassle of interactions with guests? Consider including them with individual or couple photos. If one of you has a very special bond with the pet, try out a first look! It can be a lot of fun and make for some unique memories. It also allows you to get the pet in and out before the ceremony begins. But if the pet is important to the both of you, then have them jump in for a few of the couples shots after the ceremony.
However you decide to do this, make sure there’s extra time built into the timeline for these photos (just in case.) And giving them a bath before the big day is highly recommended…you don’t want dirty-dog all over your wedding day attire!
Down the Aisle: Have a member of your bridal party walk your fur baby down the aisle as part of the processional (with a leash or in a wagon.) We’ve seen the bride and groom do this, too! Once they come down the aisle and make your guests smile, have someone walk them out of a convenient exit door or to another location so that they don’t serve as a distraction during the vows.
Tip: If you decide to give them an RSVP, make sure there’s a designated ‘pet handler’ who can be in charge! In most instances, the pet would only make a brief special appearance. This means that they need to have someone be designated to get them to the right place at the right time, and then get them back to a safe place.
The last thing that you want to worry about are these logistics, so pick someone to be in charge. It’s best for this to not be a member of the bridal party or someone who will need to be in formal photos (like a family member)---you don’t want them to go missing when you really need them!
Ways to Include Your Fur Baby in Cocktail Hour or Reception
Here are a few more things to consider for how to include your pet in your wedding, by featuring them in a special way at the cocktail portion of the evening or at the reception.
Cocktail Hour: The cocktail hour is one of the best times to put your dog, cat, or other pet, in the spotlight (without actually having them there.) Consider naming one of your specialty cocktails after them. Print an image of them on the cocktail napkins. Or feature them on signage, like posting engagement photos of you and your pets together, including them in a slideshow, or as part of an illustrated sign which will serve as your wedding guestbook.
Seating Chart or Table Settings: Elevate pet love by incorporating it as a theme into your seating chart. This could be through the design, or by naming your tables or table zones with pet terminology instead of numbers.
Cake Topper: Get a custom cake topper with the two of you and your pet. Or get a small figure of them made to place on one of the tiers, or poking out from under the base of the cake—this will be unexpected and add some levity.
Wedding Favors: There are a few ways to include your pet in your wedding day once you get closer to the end of the evening. You could give out koozies with your pet printed on them, use a sticker or custom stamp to seal your favors, or give out animal-shaped trinkets (glass, ornament, key chain etc.) But our favorite? Get printed “doggy bags” featuring your puppy or feline for your guests to fill up on a custom candy bar or leftover desserts. Or in lieu of favors altogether, let your guests know that a donation has been made to a local shelter on their behalf.
We hope you enjoyed these tips on how to include your pet in your wedding or during the season of your engagement. For more ideas, check out custom animal-themed products available on Etsy.
The Joy Team