Are They Allowed?

Tips for Including Pets in Weddings

June 22, 2015
Words by Tomlyn Veterinary Science
Photos courtesy of

Pets play such a special role in a couple’s life together. In fact, according to the 2012 U.S. Pet Ownership Census, 76 percent of Americans consider their pet to be part of the family. That being said, it should come as no surprise that more and more couples are choosing to incorporate their fur babies into their big day. But, there are a few things you need to prepare for and consider before let your pet be a part of the festivities.

Preparing to Day I Do(g)

First things first, before you start planning every detail and thinking about how cute your pet is going to look walking down the aisle, make sure your wedding and/or reception venue actually allows pets!

You’ll definitely want to make sure your pet is ready to walk down the aisle – but, how do you know if they’re ready? A task like this that requires so much concentration on an animal’s part will likely only be possible with a dog that is already leash-trained and well behaved on a leash under normal circumstances. You can’t expect a dog that has never walked on a leash to not get excited and distracted during such an ordeal! If your pet is well trained on a leash and the venue allows pets, bring him/her to the venue in advance, if possible, and walk them up and down the aisle on a leash so that they become familiar and comfortable with the location.

Want to involve your cat? Try a similar situation and consider exactly what the cat will be doing. Remember, their behavior is different than that of dogs.

Pre-Wedding Jitters

A great way to help calm your furry friend is to give him/her a supplement, such as Tomlyn’s Relax & Calm Chew, in advance. This can be a great way to help your pet remain calm and composed despite the pressure and distractions that accompany a wedding ceremony. However, to make sure your pet has fully adjusted to the chews, our vets recommend beginning a daily regimen of Relax & Calm a couple of days prior to the festivities and throughout the event.

Also, remember to let your pet use the bathroom at least 30 minutes before the ceremony. Even with the help of a relaxing aid, your pet might still be a bit anxious, which could potentially cause him/her to do his business at an inconvenient time.

Saying Your Meows

During the ceremony, it is vital that you make your pet as comfortable as possible with their surroundings. You will want to make sure they are prepared to sit or lay down for an extended period of time so they don’t go stir-crazy during your ceremony.

Just like humans, pets are more at ease with people they already know. Make sure the person assisting your pet during the ceremony is someone he/she knows and trusts.

Likewise, your pet should also be comfortable physically. So, if you can tell that your fur baby doesn’t like being constrained in a bride or groom costume, it’s best to let him or her go natural to avoid any unwanted fidgeting, barking or howling during the ceremony. Also, consider a special pillow or other comfy place for your pet to sit or sleep.

Enjoying the (Fur)stivities

You did it! You made it through the ceremony and wedding photos without any major (cat)astrophes, so it’s on to the reception. You may choose to have your pet chauffeured back to the hotel following his/her wedding ceremony duties. It’s up to you, but keep your pet’s wellbeing in mind and do what is best for them. 

If your pet will attend the reception with you, make sure they are on a leash in a safe place. This area should be somewhat out of the way, where people are less likely to run into them, or in a crate. If candles are a prominent feature for your big day, ensure that your pet is a fair distance away from them to avoid a fire hazard from a candle getting knocked over by a wagging tail.

Once your pet is safe and sound with a person you both trust, remind the person to keep people from feeding them human food. That person should also be sure to let your pet do their business regularly to avoid accidents.

Consult your veterinarian or dog trainer if you have any further questions or concerns about incorporating your pet into your big day.

Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): Jen Huang Photography, Danielle Poff Photography and Vanessa Joy Photography.

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