Saturday, January 14, 2017

Your Pet-Children at your Wedding

Getting married with your pet kids can be a really tricky business. Many places don't allow pets or have restrictions. Pets in weddings have become a bit more common these days, but it's still a head scratch for many. There are plenty of couples who have pets together and that's how they start out as a family.

If you want to have your pets in your wedding, consider some of these things:

1. Venue (Is it pet friendly? Is a fee involved? Restrictions? Are the people you are hiring okay with your pets?) Weighing in between your favorite venue and your pet kids can be difficult.

2. Logistics (Who will take care of the animal(s) on your wedding day? Who do you trust with your pet kid while saying "I do's" or dancing your first dance together? How will they get food/water/shade/enclosed/etc and all their needs met?)

3. Temperament of Pet (Does your pet do well with strangers? Commotion? Sitting still? Being handled by others? Loud sounds? Crowds? Will it be too stressful for them and if so, how can you reduce their stress? Can they tolerate wearing clothing items?)

4. Wedding Date/Time (Will it be warm enough for your reptiles or amphibians? If not, how can you ensure they are warm? How can you ensure they are cool enough for other pets? Is your pet nocturnal or diurnal?)

5. Your Guests (Is your best man afraid of snakes? If so, what can be done about having both of them there? Does your mother have an allergy to cats? What can be done to help her with her allergies? Did you put in the invitation that your pet kids will be in attendance? Does your dog love to jump on people? If so, how can you make sure your dog won't ruin someone's nice attire?)


1. Don't show up with a pet without the venue even knowing about it. This could lead to the pet being kicked out, everyone to be be kicked out, fights, or with a lot of fees added to the final bill.

2. Don't drop the pet responsibilities on a person that day and just "wing it." You wouldn't wing it for a human baby! That person wasn't planning on baby-sitting duties. They came to have fun.

3. Don't push your pet into doing something that will endanger them, scare them, anger them, or extremely stress them out.

4. Don't come unprepared. Bring our "pet-diaper bag" so to speak. The more comfortable your pets are, the less stressed you and your partner will be.

5. Don't bring your pets unannounced. Don't ignore your guests allergies, fears, muddied expensive outfits, etc.


1. Make sure your venue is okay with pets, especially the species you will be bringing (and the breed for dogs). Look into places where your pet can be stored/kept in if needed. Make sure that people you hire, like a wedding coordinator or photographer, are also okay with your pets.

2. Consult with someone you feel comfortable with about taking on responsibilities for your pets. Make sure they don't already have a huge role in your wedding, like your maid of honor. Give detailed instructions and any items for your pets' need. Also, for animals that can wear a collar, they should definitely wear them with their information on it. For animals in tanks, label the tanks with their names on it.

3. You know your pets better than anyone else so only you can decide on what is best for them. If your pet is fearful and possibly aggressive to strangers than maybe a private wedding with your pup would be best. If your pet is afraid of loud sounds or commotions, have them only attend the ceremony but not the reception. Talkative bird that may steal the show during the ceremony? Maybe only have them for pictures. Your snake is testy around feeding times? Make sure to feed them long before/after the event. If your dog or cat is absolutely miserable or vicious with clothing, forego it for a cute collar instead or keep the clothes-wearing time for only photos.

4. Obviously, if you have cold-blooded animals then getting married in the spring and summer are best. If you have a warm blooded animal, then any time of the year is most likely okay unless they can't sweat or generate heat that well. If you have a chinchilla, and it's July, make sure to have a chin-chiller or two ready (and in a cooler if no freezer available). (By the way, chinchillas are really sensitive so I recommend not having your chinchilla at all or proceed with caution.) If you have a greyhound at a Vermont wedding in January, make sure to pack a warm and fancy dog suit! If you want your nocturnal pet active, then consider a late afternoon/night wedding.

5. Remember that some people sadly don't like pets or are allergic to them. Be accommodating. Tell guests that your pets will be in attendance. Your friends and family took the time, spent money, and possibly traveled to be there. Talk to people on your guest list who may have concerns and help them out to make them feel comfortable. Better yet, make sure to have things on hand like allergy medicine, lint rollers, bleach pens, or hand sanitizer. Limit exposure if needed. If your dog jumps on people, it might be time for training classes to prevent that from happening.

Our Wedding Story

Now for the boring personal experience story. I knew my pet children had to be involved in the wedding somehow, especially Franklin, my eastern painted turtle that I've had for over 21 years. My first thoughts were to do an outdoor wedding so that the pets can be there, and then they could go home during the reception. When my husband and I decided to lower our budget, we agreed to have a very small, private destination wedding. However, this meant not having the pets and extended family attending. We decided to get married in Florida, honeymoon in Florida/Georgia, drive up to Virginia to have a small ceremony with my husband's family who couldn't travel due to age/illness, and then an outdoor reception for my family near where we live. (Most of my immediate family were able to attend the ceremony in Florida.) I had to really figure out what mattered most to me regarding the pets since I couldn't do it all with them. I have 5 reptiles, a cat, and a fish, all with various needs. I figured out that what mattered most to me was having Franklin be our ring bearer and to have photos of our kids with us in our wedding attire. We hired a professional photographer for the outdoor reception near our home to come before the event started to take photos of us with our kids. We also made sure this photographer was okay with reptiles, cats, etc. This way, they didn't have to travel, be in contact with our guests, and get stressed. And this way, my stress was also at a minimum since I didn't have to worry about them. I planned with my mother ahead of time to be our "handler." She ensured the safety and care of our pets and was the one who brought and took away the pets during the shoot. We got married in July so our reptiles were fine outdoors for photographs. Our cat was photographed indoors. I set up an area specifically as a backdrop for his photos. He hates wearing clothing so I only bought him a tie collar to wear. He hates being restrained and held against his will which was our biggest obstacle so we had to be very fast with his photos. You can tell he was unhappy in the photos. He also scratched me up and nearly tore my dress.

So, lesson learned on that one. Make sure to trim cat and dog nails. We know our tortoise poops when stressed, and we know the turtles can pee when holding them so we made sure to have paper towels on hand and held our reptiles away from our clothing.

What is most precious to me is Franklin's photos. We made him a ring bearer pillow that had a belly band around his shell to keep it in place and took his photograph with it on.

My one sacrifice was having Franklin go down an aisle with the rings and our tortoise, Salinger, be the flower girl walking down the aisle with flowers on her shell (also with belly band). It was such a lovely thought, but it didn't work out. I also knew the logistics would have been a nightmare. Salinger would have needed strawberries at the end of the aisle to entice her to walk down (and also take awhile to get there), and Franklin would have probably turned around and marched in the opposite direction. He would have had to been held by someone walking down the aisle instead. So, I settled for photos. Unfortunately, we ran out of time to make Salinger's flower girl belt, but I had two beautiful nieces be my flower girls anyway.

I am very happy with what we decided on for the wedding. It was perfect for us, and I am happy I was able to have my kids involved with minimum trouble.

Best of luck to you with your pet kids at your wedding too! I hope this was helpful. I would love to hear about your wedding story with your pets! Please comment below or let me know if you have any questions!

And they lived happily every after...

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