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How to Have a Pet or Other Animal in Your Wedding Ceremony

Updated on July 6, 2011

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

Fido is ready to serve
Fido is ready to serve

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!

Having a Cat in Your Wedding

Mellow cat, ready for duty
Mellow cat, ready for duty

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

Borrowed from M Kuhn on flickr
Borrowed from M Kuhn on flickr

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:

  1. Include pet(s) in wedding photographs
  2. Have the reception be an "open pet" area (just guard the food)! This works especially well in outdoor weddings
  3. 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!
  4. 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:
Should you be interested in using any of the pictures yourself,
contact her through her website.


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      My aunt in law brought her python to my outdoor wedding back in july of 1988. We also had the family parrot there and he was very foul mouthed during the whole thing. Next year for our 25TH we are renewing our vows at our local zoo/ botanical garden.

    • WeddingConsultant profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from DC Metro Area

      Teresa, you might be on to something there. You should set up a have-my-pet-in-your-wedding service for people who want to change things up a bit in their weddings. How much will your services be?

      Iphigenia, you're talking about breaking the wedding invitation etiquette by specifying that pets are welcome- pooper scoopers provided. I like it!

    • Teresa McGurk profile image


      9 years ago from The Other Bangor

      Noooo! Oh that's just wrong on so many levels! Hilarious hub -- thanks for the ideas. A llama might be a good wedding guest. . . maybe I could send my dogs to somone's wedding in my place, so I wouldn't have to go? Tell Christoph to read this, it could be the perfect solution for him to avoid weddings in the future. . . .

    • Anna Marie Bowman profile image

      Anna Marie Bowman 

      9 years ago from Florida

      This is great!!! I don't think I would want to use my dog in my wedding, he is just a huge beast, and would need a lot of training!! Great Hub with a lot of useful information!!!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great info - I never thought of taking my pets to weddings etc. I've had wedding invites that have specified 'no children' either at all of the day or parts (eg: no children in church) - maybe you'll have to sell cards that have a "Pet's Welcome - pooper scoopers provided" notice !

    • amy jane profile image

      amy jane 

      9 years ago from Connecticut

      This is a great hub! I didn't consider having one of our pets come to our wedding, but I do understand why people would do it. Not sure about the parrot though. :)

    • WeddingConsultant profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from DC Metro Area

      Thanks all for stopping by to read.

      Mamadragonfly- Dogs in dresses are one of the cruelest things I've seen, but hey, some dogs seem to like it :) I think the dog in my first picture is screaming for help.

      Princessa- that's a great way to incorporate animals in a wedding, never thought of that.

      Dottie- you should totally rent Gina Rose out! Sounds like she's already got the part down.

      Shirley- I'm with you on that...I wouldn't consider having a pet in our wedding. But, my wife really wanted to use their dog. And is the hubmob graphic acceptable that's posted right above the comments? I grabbed it from ProCW's forum posts.

      If you need me to use a different one, just let me know!

    • Shirley Anderson profile image

      Shirley Anderson 

      9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have to admit that I would never have (or ever will) considered having a pet in a wedding ceremony.  Huh.

      Had to giggle a little about the parrot diaper.  :)

      This is a great hub, Pete!  Such a unique topic, too. 

      I found the RSS feed below the comment box, but don't forget to add the weddings graphic somewhere.  You don't have to display it full sized, you can reduce it.

      'K, gotta run and give you a thumbs up!

    • Dottie1 profile image


      9 years ago from MA, USA

      Never heard of it but I can picture my sister's dog walking the rings down the aisle on her nose.  She is excellent with balancing cheese and is quite good at flipping the cheese upon command.  Yes Gina Rose my dog niece would be a great wedding addition!  Maybe I could rent her out. She's already trained! Thumbs up high!  Love this hub!

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      9 years ago from France

      Now this is original. First time I hear about pets in weddings, it sounds like fun. The nearest I had seen was swans or peacocks as part of "garden decoration" during the wedding reception, but during the wedding ceremony, it is my first time!

    • WeddingConsultant profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from DC Metro Area

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting Site and Purple.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Pets in a wedding is a fun concept!

    • MamaDragonfly2677 profile image


      9 years ago from New York

      My dog is part malamute, and part husky... She would NOT make a very good flower girl... but I bet she would look very cute in a dress!

      Great idea, I never would've thought of!

    • Purple Perl profile image

      Purple Perl 

      9 years ago from Bangalore,India

      Excellent hub,WeddingConsultant!

      Our family loves pets.We have 2 dogs and we are so happy to read about ways we can incorporate them at weddings as well, since they are part of the family.Thanks!

    • Site Reviewer profile image

      Site Reviewer 

      9 years ago

      great info!

    • WeddingConsultant profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from DC Metro Area

      Ohh Pro CW, now you're on to something! Yeah, get that on film and you should be a hit.

    • WeddingConsultant profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from DC Metro Area

      More and more people are doing it these days, Anjali! And believe me, people really are spending the time to train their pets to be in their weddings.

    • ProCW profile image


      9 years ago from South Carolina

      :) Hmm... maybe the parrot would be the better of the two... :) I bet if someone actually did this, had it videoed and then submitted it to one of those home video shows for money, they'd win!!! :)

      Can we press that green button again? :)


    • anjalichugh profile image


      9 years ago from New York

      That was quite innovative. Never thought of taking a dog to a wedding. Needs a lot training, though. I wonder if people would invest that much time in training their pets. I'm sure the idea will click as there are a lot of pet lovers around. Thx for sharing this info.

    • WeddingConsultant profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from DC Metro Area

      Yes, or even the parrot could object. Wow, that's a whole new idea there!

    • ProCW profile image


      9 years ago from South Carolina

      Great hub. I think it'd be funny if when the guests heard the if there are no objections part, the dog started talkin'... :)

      Green button --- pressed!



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