Paws up OR paws down?
Have you considered including your pet in your wedding party? Perhaps your dog will ride a wagon down the aisle with a ring that he hopefully hasn't swallowed by the time he reaches you? Maybe you've had a bird for twice as long as you've known your groom and think, 'She should participate in the festivities.'
No matter how much your pet is part of your family, it is important to consider potential land mines of having Fido join you on your big day. Here are four tips to avoid a frenzy:
1. Paws up if ... the key stakeholders in your wedding (usually parents, maybe grandparents or siblings) think it's a great idea. My cousin, for example, is a passionate animal rights advocate and works at an animal shelter. To love my cousin is to love animals and it makes sense. If you get a lot of negative feedback on the idea from your key stakeholders, reconsider leaving doggie at home or with a dog sitter.
2. Paws up if ... you're having a short, outdoor, pet-friendly wedding where you can easily entertain your guests without having to wrangle Fido all day. This, of course, means Fido is well trained to not jump on all the guests in their nice wedding wear. And if guests are deathly allergic to Fido, you will have an excellent drama on your hands if you invite both dog and guest.
3. Paws down if ... you come from a long line of perfectionists, or are marrying into a perfectionist family. With pets come unexpected drama and the last thing you need is to be reminded of the wedding your pet ruined when taking a nervous poo in front of the wedding table, for the next decade of your marriage. It is just not worth the anxiety you'd create up through wedding day, in addition to the real-world chances of your pet getting over stimulated or anxious and doing something disastrous.
4. Paws down if ... you offend your wedding party by making your pet a bigger deal than them. Even if you believe your pet is equal to your best bud, if anyone is offended, chances are pretty high they will be in your lives for many more years than your pet and it would be best to give your people friends their due respect. After all, your people friends may be your future movers, babysitters and shoulders to laugh or cry on as your life moves on after the wedding. Your dog won't even care she wasn't invited to the wedding and may actually enjoy the quiet solitude of her favorite couch.
Whether it's an easy decision or difficult one, pets can dramatically alter the course of your wedding day. We would love to hear your stories, good and bad, of your wedding experiences with pets!
For more from Elizabeth Doherty Thomas, visit The First Dance!