By Tatiana Garrett
With all the love in the air and the wedding announcements in my mailbox this June, I wanted to put together some helpful tips for pet parents that may be getting ready to walk down the aisle. Pets are truly members of the family so when animal-loving people get married, they often look for ways to incorporate the furry family members into the nuptials. It is a great way to make a wedding more meaningful, but it does require extra planning to avoid mishaps. From the wedding proposal to the ceremony and reception—it is possible for animal lovers to incorporate pets in many fun and safe ways.
If you or someone you know is ready to pop the question to an animal lover, there are lots of ways to make a pet-friendly proposal. Fido could be the one to “present” the ring attached to a toy or on a collar, or, f your loved one has a heart for helping homeless pets, take that special someone out for a night to remember, dance the night away, and pop the question at a swanky affair to benefit your local animal shelter. (Photo on the left taken at The Anti-Cruelty Society’s “It’s Raining Cats & Dogs” event.)
Kisty Tomala and her fiancé, Nick Boulos, love their dogs, Cody and Bella, so the pups were included in the save-the-dates and wedding announcements, and are even featured on the informational website for the wedding. Kristy says, “Cody and Bella are a very important part of our lives and we couldn’t imagine celebrating our day without them being a part of it!” The couple also plans to be photographed with the dogs on the big day in September.
If you would like to incorporate pets in your engagement and wedding photo shoots, talk to the photographer first. Kristy also recommends having someone extra come along to the shoot to keep an eye on your four-legged model—her sister came with and “helped not only carry treats for the dogs but toys to get their attention for the perfect snapshots!”
Party with a Purpose
As the wedding approaches, the parties commence! Bridal showers and bachelor/bachelorette parties are designed to bring families and friends together. While a crazy night out is often a given, some couples struggle to find family-friendly activities. A painting party is a fun event that family members under the age of twenty-one can participate in, and it’s a fun way to give back.
When the big day arrives, follow Stefanie Grunwald’s advice and dedicate a family member to handling the pet(s). Stefanie and her husband Kevin were married two years ago. They chose to have an intimate ceremony at a family member’s home followed by a reception for friends and extended family at a nearby dance hall. Their two adopted pups, Linus and Ryno, walked down the aisle and were a part of the meaningful union ceremony. Linus has a bit of a “nervous stomach” and pooped right on the altar. The whole family loves the dogs though so after a swift clean-up the ceremony did not skip a beat! Stefanie shared her funny story in hopes that other couples dedicate a handler to walk the dog(s) right before the journey down the aisle to help alleviate a little wedding-day stress.
Nikki and Nick Koski were married in the fall of 2010. Their Pug/Beagle mixes, Bella and Tucker, took part in the wedding ceremony. Bella’s collar was adorned with sunflowers to match the wedding theme and Tucker was the ring bearer. The bride’s mother hand-made an attachment with a Velcro loop to secure the wedding rings to Tucker’s collar. Nikki thoroughly planned the pups’ day from beginning to end and chose a well-loved aunt to provide them with care and take them home before the reception.
Consider how your pups may have different needs in extreme weather conditions and provide the handler with appropriate supplies. Nikki’s additional point of advice is to be patient and have reasonable expectations. “They’re still dogs and you need to be prepared for them to act like dogs, no matter how well trained they are,” she says.
Kevin and Kara adopted their beloved cat, Benny, from The Anti-Cruelty Society. As the couple planned their wedding details, they wanted to do something unique for wedding favors. Says Kara, “Our entire wedding was a reflection of us. I feel as though people spend so much money on guest favors without meaning behind them, and guests don’t seem to enjoy, appreciate, or use them.” Kevin and Kara decided to use their loving union as an opportunity to promote adoptions and made a donation to The Anti-Cruelty Society in lieu of favors. The same concept can also be applied to gifts at a wedding or bridal party. Simply send donation information to the shelter of your choice along with (or in instead of) gift registry details.
Have some additional tips for sharing your special day with your favorite furry friend? Share in the comments
Tatiana Garrett grew up with Borzoi, a rescued Standard Poodle, cats, hamsters, parrots, rabbits, guinea pigs, and an iguana… just to name a few pets. She began her professional career with animals in 1995 at Brookfield Zoo. She has studied wild dolphins in Australia and rescued wildlife in Florida, but people are truly at the heart of her work. If it walks, hops, or slithers, Tatiana cares about it. She currently oversees the Humane Education programs at The Anti-Cruelty Society and hosts “Chicago Tails“ on Watch312.com.