Say “I Do” With a “Bowwow”

How To Include a Pet in Your Wedding


Is your Buddy an important part of the family? It’s a natural and super adorable inclination to include your pet in your big day. Donna Saladin, owner of The Country Garden Estates in Yacolt, Wa, has seen increased interest giving weddings a unique touch with pets, saying “This is your day and you can do just that at this perfect and unique wedding venue. From choosing your own caterers to including your family pet in photo shoots to the ceremony, this is your day to remember for a lifetime.”

As more and more people are getting married a little later in life, many couples already have pet companions before meeting or while dating! Especially in the Pacific Northwest, which rank Oregon and Washington among the highest in pet ownership (with over 63% of households!), chances are good that you have your own pet-kid to celebrate with.*

If you’re one of those households, and you’re about to get married, there are many ways to give your pet a role – whether you want them to have a bit part or a starring act. Here are some fun ways that you can include your pet in your wedding day:

In Step

Your pet could accompany the bride down the aisle, or wait at the altar with your groom party. Or imagine how cute little Daisy would be escorting your flower-throwing niece and ring-bearing nephew. You may want to consider hiring a pet sitter, or asking a friend to be in charge of caring for your pet after the parade, so that you can enjoy the rest of the festivities.

Part of the Pack

Many couples want their pet in the wedding party, and appointing them as a ring bearer or flower girl is a logical fit. But you don’t have to limit it to that! Maybe Bailey is a fantastic best-dog or third bridesmaid. Just make sure they are trained to handle the role, so your ceremony goes smoothly.

Party Animal

Some pets are charming at parties, and would love to mingle with guests at the reception. If your pet is comfortable in social situations like this, then your guests will be thrilled to save them a dance! It may be helpful to set up a small station for them with water, food and chewing toy where they can be leashed up for breaks from the action. The Country Garden Estates has a darling custom “dog house,” built for down time, while still close to all the activity.  Donna describes it as “attached to the side of the Bridal Suite, painted and trimmed out as its own matching building, where Fido can relax on fresh cedar shavings behind a latched wood gate with his own play area.”

Picture Perfect

Photos with your pet will add instant smiles and a ton of personality to your wedding album. This is also a great option for alternative pets like rabbits, goats, and horses, which may be more difficult than dogs to incorporate into other parts of your day. There plenty of options to dress your pet to match your wedding colors and style, including mini tux jackets, flower collars and crowns, bowties, fancy hats, or a decorated leash. Whatever you do, make sure that their outfit is comfortable and non-toxic.

Virtual Guest Of Honor

If you can’t (or don’t want to) have your pet physically onsite with you, their delightful furry face can still warm your heart throughout the day. Simply use their picture to create cardboard cutouts or posters, on your cake topper, or party favors and other decorations. Or include them on picture boards or in your slide show.

It might take a little extra planning and creativity, but including your pet in your wedding is another amazing way to make the day special. Carefully consider what parts of the celebration will work best for you and your pet. It’s helpful to talk to your photographer in advance, and make sure your wedding venue allows for pets too.

Country-Garden-Estates-LogoThe Country Garden Estates (a beautiful one-hour drive north from Portland, Or) is a gorgeous pet-friendly outdoor wedding venue, and allows pets on site for both the ceremony and reception. They also have a wide variety of fantastic locations for photo opportunities with your pet on the property. Visit the website for more information.

*Source: 2012 U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook