Many couples have a beloved pet who they feel is a family member, almost like their first child. Over the years, I have often been asked to include pets in the ceremony—usually as a ring-bearer.
Before I go any further, please know that I am a great lover of dogs and cats. I have several of my own. They are very important to my happiness and general well-being. I’m just not sure I’d want them at my wedding…
Now, I am always telling couples that their ceremony should reflect who they are and include the words, rituals, people, and elements that matter most. So if your dog falls into one of these groups, and having the dog participate in the ceremony is vital to your happiness and to the perfection of your wedding day, here are some points to ponder:
a) However important your dog is to you, having it participate in the ceremony may make your guests a little anxious. They will not be able to help just waiting to see if it misbehaves by lifting a leg on one of the chairs– or one of the guests— barking, or jumping up at you to lick your faces and share the joy (and leaving pawprints on your beautiful wedding gown or tux!).
b) Pets are notorious scene-stealers – as are babies and small children (see my other posts). You may wish to think hard about whether you want to share the limelight with your pet at the actual ceremony.
After thinking the matter over, many couples opt to include their family pet/s in the ceremony without their actually being present. I have often mentioned the pets when I tell the couple’s story as part of the ceremony, and usually include some reference to how the dog or cat (or bird!) features prominently in the wedding photos taken at home.
If you are still bound and determined to have your dog walk down the aisle in a tux and bowtie or sparkling collar and ribbons, with your rings strapped to its back, make sure there is a handler nearby to step in at a moment’s notice. He or she will also have to commit to keeping the dog by their side once your pet has delivered the rings to your Best Man or Best Woman.
P.S. And even more vital, ask the handler to please make sure the dog has had a pit stop just BEFORE the ceremony…
Catherine Kentridge, Licensed Wedding Officiant
Custom Wedding Ceremonies