THE BLOG
01/20/2015 10:33 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Best Ways to Include Your Pet in Your Wedding Celebration

pojoslaw via Getty Images

Maybe he is your best friend or she was your first baby, however you think of your beloved pet, you know your wedding wouldn't be complete without your four-legged family member. Luckily, with the increase of acceptance of friendly, well-trained pets in public places, there are many options to make sure their presence is felt.

The 2013-2014 American Pet Products Association's National Pet Owners Survey reported that 68 percent of U.S. households own a pet including over 83.3 million dogs and the numbers are climbing every year. With this understanding, many venues are reducing complications to allow you to include your pet in your celebration. Here are our favorite ways to incorporate your pet into your big day.

Flower Girl or Ring Bearer
Our preferred option, but one with some challenges, is to have your dog walk down the aisle during your ceremony as your flower girl or ring bearer. This is only for the couple that is okay with sharing the stage, since your pet is bound to steal at least some of the spotlight.

If this is the idea for you, a doggie ring bearer can have a faux ring attached to his collar (leave the real one with the best man) or a flower dog can have her collar or leash made out of flowers, just be sure to ask your florist to make one using flowers that aren't toxic to canines. If you would like, you can also dress up your pets with a bow tie or veil for the occasion.

If you decide to go this route, we would recommend you have a family member or friend be responsible for taking your dog on a long walk before the ceremony so they are pretty tired before their big debut in front of your guests. Also, make sure there is a plan for who will watch him or her during the ceremony and what will happen during the reception.

For those couples planning ceremonies in a house of worship, in a destination where it isn't feasible to bring their pet, or at a venue with a strict "no animals" policy, there are still plenty of options for you as well.

Getting Ready with the Guys or Girls
If the place where you are getting ready for the wedding allows animals, this may be an option for you. We recently had a client get special permission for her dog to hang out in her beautiful hotel room while she and her bridesmaids got their hair and makeup done. The dog is featured in the professional photos, which guarantees his presence at the wedding will be remembered for years to come.

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Photo courtesy of Root Weddings

Formal Photos
If you really want your pet involved in "person" and the prior two options don't work, you can have a trusted friend bring your pet to the location of your formal photos at a set time to be included in some shots. You can work with your photographer in advance to find a scenic location without any pet restrictions.

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Photo Credit: Joe Mikos Photographers

Cake Topper
If your pet can't make the trip to be physically at your wedding, you can still include him or her by having a custom cake topper made in their likeness. Luckily there are a great selection of online companies and Etsy shops that can do this for you. All you have to do is send a photo.

Stationery Items
We love the idea of having your stationer incorporate a drawing, photo or shadow image of your pet into your invitation and day of stationery as a way to tie all your paper goods together. The options here are endless, all you need to do is work with a custom stationer to be sure this comes off without a hitch.

There are many other ways to include your pet in your wedding as the options are only limited by your creativity. Please feel free to share how you will include your pet in your wedding day.