Image Credit: Kevin McGinn Photographer

A Pet Above The Rest

When it comes to your special day, the inclusion of your pet can create an incredible moment between you and your favourite furry companion. Annie Slevison speaks to marriage celebrant Fiona Garrivan about the rise of pet-friendly weddings.

Image Credit: Black Avenue Productions

The idea of walking down the aisle to the love of your life is one of the best feelings in the world. You’re surrounded by family and friends as you stride towards your partner, but how wonderful would it be if your beloved pet was there to celebrate with you? If you’re thinking of including your furry friend on your wedding day, Melbourne Wedding & Bride shares some tips on how to incorporate them into the celebrations.

The Place To Be

Your wedding day should reflect your unique personalities and showcase the things you love most as a couple, which is why couples are opting to include pets in their ceremonies. Animal lovers are swooping at the chance to have their furry friend by their side, and for some couples the idea is one without question. “Pets are an important part of their family,” says Garrivan. “[Couples] cannot imagine celebrating the day without them.”

With many more couples wanting to include their furry friend in their wedding, many venues are now catering to this desire. “Over the years, venues are becoming more flexible, so [there is] an increase in pets being involved in the ceremony, says Garrivan. The most important thing to do when scoping out possible ideas for a pet-friendly ceremony is clear clarification from the venue itself. Be sure to find out if your particular type of pet is welcome on the property, and if there are any restrictions that you and your animal must follow. Garrivan says that while many places are more than happy to accommodate your furry friend, they do have guidelines to adhere by. There are usually areas of the venue where your pet won’t be allowed to go, or they must be on a lead at all times. She says it is vital that these requirements are clarified to save you from any future awkward conversations or mishaps.

Imagination Creation

If you find yourself in a situation where your pet is not allowed inside your dream venue, do not be disheartened as Garrivan says there are many ways you can still incorporate your animal into the day. Having photos together with your pet prior to the wedding while getting ready is a lovely way to honour their importance in your life. You can also have a cardboard cutout of your animal for the reception, or even acknowledge your furry friend during the ceremony within a speech.

Pet Personality

The inclusion of pets on your wedding day is a beautiful nod towards their loving company, but it needs to be met with consideration as to how the day can run smoothly when bringing an animal on board. Tackling the unpredictability of a pet in a new environment can be managed by familiarising it with the venue beforehand. Try taking your pet to rehearsals and letting the area become known to them to ensure there’ll be no surprises on the big day.

When dealing with pets, it is important to remember their individual personality. Each pet has its own temperament and some handle social events better than others. If your furry friend is the excitable type, Garrivan recommends leaving them with someone who they trust and can be controlled by. “Appoint someone that the animal is familiar with as a guardian,” she says. This will ensure your pet will be on its best behaviour during the ceremony and everyone can enjoy the presence of your beloved furry friend.

If you’re unable to provide your pet with a watchful partner for the day, there are trainers and companies available that provide such a

service. Another important note by Garrivan is to have treats and toys handy for your pet should they need a distraction or a reward. However, she also believes that if your pet is not happy in the situation, save yourself the panic on your wedding day. “If they are not sociable, it is better not to include them and avoid unnecessary stress for everyone,” she says.

Pet Peeves

Having your pet involved in your wedding is a touching tribute, but it’s important to acknowledge the potential risks involved with having them there. In order to guarantee effortless movement of your big day, consider how your animal will react to being around lots of people and noise. It is also essential to notify guests that your pet will be at the ceremony. “Guests generally love to see pets included, however it may be important to let guests know in case someone has a fear of dogs or is allergic,” says Garrivan.

All Invited

The ways in which you can include your pet in your wedding are endless; you may want your furry friend to be the ring bearer, escort someone down the aisle, or simply sit in the audience. A cute way to involve your beloved pet is to have them as a second videographer – attach a GoPro to their head so you can capture your wedding from their point of view!

Letting your pet partake in your wedding may not only complete the whole occasion, but it’s also a wonderful way to highlight their importance in your life. Just remember to be understanding of your pet and the people involved in the wedding. “With careful consideration, this can be managed to make it enjoyable for the animal, couple and guests,” says Garrivan.