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How to Have a Pet or Other Animal in Your Wedding Ceremony
In the endless search to have a unique wedding, some couples are choosing to include fido, furball, or even tweety in their wedding ceremonies. Since today's wedding etiquette rules are evolving, it is now acceptable to include an animal in the wedding service.
In this hub I will discuss the logistics of having a dog, cat, or parrot in a wedding (since these are the most common today). However, here are some tips on how to have any animal included in your wedding ceremony:
- Animal training will have to be considered
No matter what type of animal you want to include in your wedding, you will have to have them trained. More will be said of this later.
- Decide where and when you want them involved
Did you want your dog to bring the ring to you at the altar? Was your bird going to do a special toast during the reception? Is your cat's new trick going to be incorporated into a group photo? Deciding this early in the process is vital.
- Consider the pet allergies of your human guests
Simply being aware of this will put you ten steps ahead. Look at the seating arrangement and put people with pet allergies further from the aisle (if your pet will walk the ring down). Sneezing guests not only distract from the main event but are also bothersome to wedding attendants.
- Verify that pets are allowed at the location of the wedding
The wedding location owners will need to give permission for the couple to use a pet in the service. Even if it's assumed to be fine, the couple should always ask just in case. Sometimes churches won't allow a pet in the sanctuary due to the fear of a pet "mess" being dropped on new carpet, etc.
- Figure out all the logistics of having a pet in your wedding
Answering certain key questions will help you be off to a great start to having your animal included in the wedding. Consider the following:
- Who will be the primary handler of the pet
- Should the pet be on a leash? When? How often?
- Will the pet like (and obey) the handler?
- Will the pet wear anything?
- Do we have a backup plan in case the animal disobeys commands during the service?
These questions will need to be answered early on in your wedding planning. Fortunately, most of the questions will be answered if you follow the last step.
- Practice, practice, practice!
Practicing the pet's actions and role in the wedding event will iron out most, if not all, of the above concerns. Practice alone with your pet, then practice with several people, then practice with as many people as you can. A good rule of thumb is to go through the plans as many times as you feel necessary for your pet to understand the routine, then go through it several times after that!
Having a Dog in Your Wedding
Things a Dog can do in a Wedding
- Bring the wedding bands down the aisle to the awaiting groom
This is probably one of the most popular ways in which a dog is incorporated into the wedding ceremony. Some people choose to have a cute nephew or neice walk the wedding rings down on a pillow, others have their dog do it. You can have the dog "wear" a pillow on his back or (harder to do) forehead, or you can have the dog hold a basket in his mouth.
- Be a groomsmen or bridesmaid
Some pet lovers choose to have fido in the wedding party. Doggie wedding attire will have to be carefully picked, but it certainly is possible and many couples have done it in the past.
- Try something new
Use tricks that your dog already knows and incorporate them into the ceremony or reception. Get creative! Using more common dog tricks such as fetch, sit, or talk, think of a unique way to use your dog in your wedding.
- Why put your dog in your wedding when you can have him in his own dog wedding
Believe it or not, dog weddings are increasing in popularity. If this is your thing, there's plenty of information on the net to satisfy your every question!
Dog Training Tips for Wedding Participation
Positive reinforcement of good behavior is much more effective than negative punishment of bad behavior. Therefore, you should have plenty of treats in hand for when you are teaching your dog wedding day tricks.
Also, take baby steps when training your dog. If you want him to walk a ring basket down the aisle, don't try to train him everything all at once. First, get him used to walking down the aisle, then get him used to steadily holding a basket in his mouth. Once he has those two skills, combine them to create the desired action.
Practice, practice, practice! Practice alone, practice with friends, practice with crowds. You can never know with certainty what your dog will do on your wedding day, but if you train your dog properly, he has a better chance of performing the action flawlessly.
The best piece of advice I can give you is to learn as much about positive training skills as you can. Dogs are eager to please their masters, so learn how you can use that to your advantage and you'll have a successful wedding doggie trick that will be loved by everyone!
Helpful Dog Training Books
Having a Cat in Your Wedding
Things a Cat can do in a Wedding
- Bring the wedding bands down the aisle to the awaiting groom
Although it is more difficult to train a cat to do this (compared to a dog or bird), it is certainly possible. The cat could "carry" the rings down the aisle on a pillow which would be strapped to her body.
- Greet incoming wedding attendants
Mellow cats are best for this role. You could dress your feline in wedding attire and have her sit next to the guest book, for example. This way, every guest who entered would see your cutely adorned cat.
- Have a cat themed reception
One couple even had a cat themed wedding cake! Use your imagination and find ways to incorporate your feline in the reception.
Cat Training Tips for Wedding Participation
When training cats, keep in mind that they need to be positively encouraged when good behaviors occur rather than punished when bad behaviors occur. Just like dogs, they respond better to positive reinforcement. Unfortunately, cats aren't as eager to please like dogs are, so training your cat will take some patience and persistence.
If you want to have your feline friend walk the rings down the aisle, the first step would be to get her used to wearing the ring pillow. This is easier for cats who are used to wearing leashes, but even then it often takes some time for them to be okay with it. Once you think your cat has the hang of that, teach them the skill of walking down the aisle with the ring basket on their back. (This can be done by laying out treats in a straight line down the aisle.) Then try it with people, and so forth. You can have amazing cats, it will just take some patience and practice!
As with dogs, you should practice, practice, practice. I would also recommend securing the rings with tape or something similar (be careful of using a string since cats enjoy attacking string)!
Finally, I would highly recommend reading several training books on how to train your cat for such an event. There are a number of high quality training books written especially for you, the cat trainer.
Below are some of the highest rated cat-training books on Amazon.
Useful Cat Training Materials
Having a Parrot in Your Wedding
Things a Parrot can do in a Wedding
- Fly the rings to the altar
By far, this is the most popular thing Parrots are trained to do in weddings. Think of how cool it would be to have a beautifully colored bird fly your wedding bands to you!
- Incorporate a parrot's ability to speak in the wedding or reception
The second most popular way to use a parrot is to have them speak. There are quite a few possibilities here, limited only by your imagination. Consider having your parrot say the line, "You may now kiss the bride," or having him share a brief toast to the newlyweds during the reception.
- Use your parrot as a live prop for your Caribbean-themed reception
Planning on honeymooning in a tropical location? Try having a tropical theme for your reception! How amazing would it be to have a parrot on your shoulder for the reception?
Parrot Training Tips for Wedding Participation
Parrots are considered exotic pets, so they require a different kind of treatment. If you want to use a parrot in your wedding and you don't have extensive experience in training and handling parrots, you're better off hiring a professional handler.
One thing you can't train your parrot on is mid-flight pooping. It would not be a good thing for your parrot to do a bombing run on a well dressed guest. Consider purchasing a parrot diaper (yes, they do exist).
If you are ambitious and want to learn how to do it all yourself, I would suggest visiting parrot training sites such as birdtricks (dot) com. I would also highly recommend reading up on parrot training. Again, these are exotic pets and need to be trained and treated differently than your everday dog or cat.
Recommended Parrot Training
Ways to have any type of pet in your wedding
Here are some unique ways to incorporate your pet into your special day, no matter what type of pet it is:
- Include pet(s) in wedding photographs
- Have the reception be an "open pet" area (just guard the food)! This works especially well in outdoor weddings
- Depending on how risque you want to be in the reception, you could invent a game that involves your pet: "Kiss the dog for a year of good luck," "Female who holds pet snake for the longest wins prize," or "First to pin the greesy pig down gets the first dance with the bride" could all work. Here's a chance for you to really get creative!
- If you have any extra suggestions, write a comment below!
Regardless of how you do it, enjoy having your pet in your wedding. This is your special day and celebrating it in a way that makes you happy is what's important. Just don't forget to use common sense. Have a backup plan, be sensitive to issues that arise, and enjoy yourself!
All animal pictures were used with permission. Unless otherwise noted, they were borrowed by the owner of this website: http://amandabrycephoto.com/ Should you be interested in using any of the pictures yourself, contact her through her website.