Creative ways to include your four-legged family members in the fun.
Valentine's Day may have passed, but love is still in the air, as couples plan spring and summer weddings. And on those special days when two lives join forces to make one new family, what's a family celebration without your loyal, beloved pets?
Now, we're not suggesting that you have your talking parrot ordained over the internet and train him to perform the ceremony, or that you teach your partner's cat to play "Pachelbel's Canon" on a synthesizer as you walk down the aisle. But there are lots of creative ways to make your pets a part of your special day.
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One of the most common ways to add "woof" to a wedding ceremony is to include your pet as part of the wedding party, such as a ring bearer. Depending on how well trained your dog is, this plan can be a no-brainer -- or a source of anxiety. It's probably a good idea to rehearse with your dog before the ceremony, and you can have a member of the wedding party walk him down the aisle on a leash if necessary, with a pillow tied on his back. If your dog has a favorite bed or perch, you can keep it right up at the front near the altar. That way, he'll know right away where his "spot" is, and will probably stay put throughout the ceremony.
At the reception, you might consider a pet-safe wedding cake for your dogs to munch on, or even matching keepsake water bowls for your and your partner's dogs and cats.
If you have a lot of pets, or plan on inviting any guests with especially sociable furry friends, think about having an animal zone at the reception -- making space for everything from birdcages, to cat trees, to a small fenced-in dog run (if the reception is outside).
And if you do decide to welcome a large number of animal guests at your party, it's probably a good idea to hire a dog sitter or animal wrangler to keep an eye on them. That way, you spend no time worrying, and all your time celebrating.
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Another fun idea is to include personalized pet-themed gifts in your guests' goody bags -- and there is no shortage of specialty animal swag available across the country, and on the web. Such treats as personalized puppy shirts, bone-shaped frames, or small bags of high-quality birdseed will make your guests and their pets feel special.
Of course, you can always ride in on your horse, wear a snake around your neck, or use your several hamster wheels as centerpieces. But whether you go for something romantic, whimsical, weird, subtle, or totally over-the-top, your wedding planning should be a reflection of you, your partner, and the life you're building together with the people and pets you love. Plan whatever arrangements will make you the happiest.
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Above all, remember this: just like that dreaded seating chart, a little careful preparation for your pets goes a long way to making your special day relaxed and memorable.
Have you been to a pet-friendly wedding? Share your stories below!