According to a survey conducted in 2019 by Animal Medicines Australia, a whopping 61% of Australian households have at least one pet. And as anyone who has ever spent 5 minutes with a pet-owner can attest, the vast majority exhibit what is called pet-parenting behaviour…that is, treating their furbabies as though they are, in fact, babies!
So, it should come as no surprise that pet-friendly weddings are well and truly on the rise. And honestly, what’s not to love about the idea of having your furry (or feathered) friend spend your big day right alongside you? But not every pet has the right temperament to be comfortable at a wedding full of strangers, children and loud noises. It’s important to put your pet’s welfare front and centre when considering whether or not to include them in your wedding.
Your pet might be an oasis of calm when it’s just you and your partner curled up on the couch. But can they handle noise, crowds and all the extra attention that will come with having them at your wedding? Consider how your dog reacts at the dog park, or when you have friends over. Do they bark like maniacs and jump all over small children? Or are they relatively sedate? Is your cat borderline feral? Or a cuddly ball of fluff?
Another consideration is the venue itself and the weather. If you are having an outdoor wedding, a rainy day will mean muddy paw prints and wet fur – neither of which work well with formal wedding gear! Is your wedding indoors? Obviously, your pet needs to be sufficiently toilet-trained to avoid any unfortunate mishaps. Your bridesmaids are there to bustle. Poop-scooping might be stretching the friendship.
If your pet will be attending the ceremony it is super important that you let everyone know in advance. You need to check with your venue and make sure they welcome pets. Let your guests know that your pet is attending so that anyone with allergies knows to keep some Zyrtec handy. And perhaps most importantly, discuss your pet’s attendance with your photographer so that they can make allowances for including your furry friend in the photos.
For most couples, just having their pet in attendance is enough. And let’s face it, this is by far and away the easiest option. But if your dog is exceptionally well-trained, you can consider involving them in the logistics of the day. A popular choice is for pups to act as ring bearer or ‘pet of honour’ as they accompany you down the aisle. If you’re considering going down this route, a rehearsal (or ten) is recommended, unless you are ultra-relaxed about unexpected events upsetting your schedule.
For other pets (cats, rabbits, llamas, lizards) you’ll likely be restricted to having them in a few photos (unless your training skills are next level Dr Doolittle).
There are significant logistical concerns involved in having a pet-friendly wedding and investing in a pet chaperone or assistant is well worth the money. From grooming to transport, keeping your pet calm and making silly kissy noises to get them to look at the camera for photos, a pet chaperone takes all the stress out of having your fur baby along for the ride. They can ensure your pet is fed and watered throughout the day, take them for walks when it all gets a bit much – and best of all, bring them home safely after the ceremony and photos and get them settled, while you are still out partying.
If you don’t think your pet can handle the stress of the occasion, consider including them in some of the pre-wedding celebrations. If you are having a low-key engagement party or get-together, bring them along. Or have them involved only in your photos – either the getting ready shots or just after the ceremony when it will just be the two of you. Alternatively, you can include them in the theme or styling – we’ve seen adorable dachshund-shaped placeholders, kitty cut-outs in photobooths and pet pictures on everything from stationery to balloons.
For more help in planning your pet-friendly wedding, check out our handy 12-month guideline, create an account and start browsing our crazy-talented Canberra wedding vendors. When you’ve made your shortlist, get in touch with vendors directly. You can save notes, quotes and more in our handy planning section online. What are you waiting for?