Pets in the wedding: Fun or Faux Pas?

You may now kiss the dog

Even when we don’t admit it, most of us hold a special place in our hearts for Fido and Fluffy. While in my case, the little critters are cats (Kilgore and Moya), and thus not much good for anything resembling ring bearing or the like, a lot of folks have dogs that can be trained to be a part of a wedding ceremony. Or, at least, a wedding cermeony held outside or somewhere other than within the walls of most churches. And the trend is growing.

“I find that about 30 percent of my weddings involve pets,” says Los Angeles wedding planner Mindy Weiss, who has coordinated the happy occasion for numerous celebrities, in an article for Palm Springs Life. “I think it would be more, but a lot of venues do not allow animals.” Tori Spelling’s dogs served as flower girl and ring bearer, and Adam Sandler’s dogs Matzoball (pulled down the aisle in a wagon) and Meatball served those same roles, respectively.

Well, celebrities do it, sure. They also have plenty of money to devote to steamcleaning, replacement rings, and drycleaning costs, should Fifi not behaver herself when walking down the aisle. For the rest of us – by which I mean those who would prefer not to have to go through the rigamorole of training a dog, cat, parrot, or ferret to saunter in a straight line without being diverted by oohing and ahhing guests – there are other ways of including precious Foo Foo in a wedding ceremony or reception.

  • Your little bundle of four-legged joy can wait patiently in a carrier during the ceremony and then don a bridal-color-coordinated collar to frolic the night away at the reception.
  • He or she can be included as a groomsman or bridesmaid, provided one of the bipedal attendants promises to keep a tight grip on the leash.
  • If the animal in question is small and quite patient about being carried, he or she can enjoy the cermeony in the comfort of the arms of a very patient attendant.
  • Have a parent or friend lead your kitty or pup to the alter to deliver the rings during the correct bit of the ceremony and then lead the animal way before he or she has a chance to do anything naughty.
  • Let pets attend the ceremony but keep them safe and secure in a comfy carrier.

Please note that I by no means advocating any of these suggestions and nor am I making light of any bride who chooses to include an animal in her wedding. Some wouldn’t. My grandfather is of the opinion that animals are animals and thus dressing them up degrades their natural dignity. Some would…to the extreme…by marrying dolphins. It’s your wedding, folks, so it’s up to you.

One word of advice, however. If you, like me, have a pet that won’t sit still and seldom shuts up (Hi Kilgore! Hi Moya!), it’s recommended that you leave them at home. Pets are loyal. They’ll be there when you get back.

15 Responses to “Pets in the wedding: Fun or Faux Pas?”

  1. Julia says:

    At my sister’s wedding in August, her husband’s beloved family dog (a big golden retriever mix) was a guest at the wedding. He didn’t participate in the ceremony as ring bearer or anything like that, but he wore a big ribbon around his neck and sat quietly and proudly on a pew in the church. The only fuss was when he fell off the pew, causing a muffled “THUD!” to echo in the rafters. But other than that, he behaved himself quite well, and even participated in some of the photographs after the ceremony.

  2. Never teh Bride says:

    I think most people would agree with you, mainegirl. While pets are becoming the children of the future, I would have to say that there are some places that are better without pets.

    However, if someone has a particularly well behaved pet (i.e. not pets like mine – rather, pets like Julia’s BIL’s dog), they could attend as a guest.

    I would be too afraid to include animals if I was planning on having a church wedding. Since I plan to marry in my grandma’s backyard, there will be little we can do to prevent Moses, her cat, from attended, as the backyard is his domain 🙂

  3. Babs says:

    One thing I think a lot of people fail to take into account is whether or not the pet would WANT to be there. Large gatherings of strangers and unknown places can be terrifying for animals. Chances are, your pet’s not gonna enjoy being there nearly as much as Great Aunt Flo, and this can lead to behavioral problems and embarrassing incidents.

    I would say to anyone thinking of including a pet to really know their pet. Certain dogs will flourish in the environment, but many won’t, and why cause stress for your pet, endangering both their health and your wedding?

  4. shoelover says:

    a definate fur paux

  5. Bria says:

    Since a guest will likely have to be assigned to wrangle the pet, it seems like a way to ensure someone gets stuck with a crummy job that prevents them from really enjoying the event. And really, leaving pets at home won’t hurt their feelings. They won’t feel excluded from the big day; their little hearts won’t break when everyone talks about how great the wedding was. They’re pets. Don’t get me wrong, I love my cats dearly, but I rest assured every time I go do something fun elsewhere that they aren’t getting huffy because I’m excluding them from my life events.

  6. Never teh Bride says:

    Fur paux! Ha!!!

    I think Babs has the right idea. Some pets love being around new people or large groups. To others, it may be terrifying!

  7. Never teh Bride says:

    Personally, Bria, I think my cats are HAPPIER when we leave them the entire house to themselves!

  8. Isara says:

    sometimes, you can’t leave your pets out of the ceremony.

    When my Dad and my stepmom were married, they had a very small service in a small family house in the hills of Calistoga, CA. The dog, Annie, had been with my stepmom for several years, and a few months earlier, the bride’s mother took my dad aside and told him, “Love her, love her dog.”

    Well, during the ceremony, when the minister asked my dad and his betrothed to join hands, Annie moved right between them and put her paw on top of theirs! Needless to say, the solemnity of the occassion was broken as we all collapsed into giggles.

  9. LaLa says:

    I must have my *babies* be in the ceremony of my someday-wedding!

  10. mainegirl says:

    My sweetie’s mother has an 11-year old lab who actually might be a good choice to walk the flower girls down the aisle. She moves slow, she’s steady, and with a treat at the end she might actually get our gaggle of two year olds to the right spot! So on reflection, it might work. And our wedding will be outside.

    I retract my previous statement!

  11. La BellaDonna says:

    While I would love to have my furry son Domino as a part of my wedding (provided that same occurs before old age and a natural passing overtakes either one of us first), he would insist that Mommy carry him around for the entire event. In addition to the fact that he has very dense catfur (at the end of a toting session, he weighs about 85 pounds), he has a bad tendency to steal jewelry (goodbye to the rings!), and to insist on being the center of attention. So, at least for now, the plan is to have him guard the homestead against the Pigeons and the Grackles of Evil, with suitable spoiling taking place on our return home.

    *And I’d like to know Bria’s secret. Dommie gets huffy when I do fun, exciting things at home- things like emptying the dishwasher, putting away groceries, wrangling in the sewing room – anything that takes time away from sitting on the couch with him on my lap. He gets very vocal and overwrought about it, too.

  12. The key really is, know your pet, your right about that. My dog Kissinger? Couldn’t handle it. He’s afraid of cameras (strange thing to be afraid of, huh?). Thank God I’m already married and I don’t have to think about that sort of stuff.

    I was at a wedding for a co-worker in his mom’s backyard. There were five or six cats just hanging out in various places of the yard and it fit with the nice relaxed charming feel of the wedding. It didn’t feel out of place or forced, it felt as if it was all supposed to be there…