14 Ways to Include Your (Furry) Best Friend In Your Wedding
August 15, 2017
Your pet is probably your best friend, your first child, and your favorite member of the family, all rolled into one. If you're like me, you talk to your "fur baby" more than anyone else on earth. You are her mom, after all!
Sophie Kaye Photography

A day this important should include all your loves – even the four-legged, fluffy, or feathered kind. A special role or a custom detail is a must for the pet who will be completing your new family.

Keep in mind, not all wedding venues allow pets. Make sure you talk to them in advance if you want your pup in person on the big day. Otherwise, plan a personalized nod, so your pet is there in thought.

1. Save the Date
Bring your pet along to your engagement photo shoot. You might want to picture your pooch or your equestrian companion front and center on your "save the date" cards. It's a great option for pets who won't be able to attend the ceremony. Bonus: you can frame the photo as your first family portrait!

2. Bridal Portrait
Some brides schedule a separate portrait shoot before the wedding ceremony. It's a chance to put your hair and makeup trials to good use – and, if you want to go the traditional route, have it on display during the reception. It's also a chance to feature your fur baby who might not make the wedding festivities. Puppies and other pets are a lot easier to manage for a few hours rather than a full wedding day – especially if you're shooting outside. And you'll still get the glamour shot of your dreams. Creative tip: have the florist incorporate flowers from your bouquet into a matching wreath or leash adornment for your pet.

3. Bridal Suite Shoot
Another low-stress option. Have a friend or family member bring your pet by while you and your bridal party are still getting ready. The photographer will be there shooting some fun and casual shots with your entourage before and after you put on your dress. While your pup might not be able to join the champagne toast, the pictures will be totally cute. She's your best friend, which basically makes her a bridesmaid anyway.

4. Ring Bearer or Flower Girl Escort
Little ring bearers or flower girls will have a much easier time walking down the aisle with an escort. For cuteness overload, dress your well-behaved pet in a matching tux, tutu, flower wreath, or ribbon leash in your wedding colors. Or have your dog stand in as ring bearer. Just remember, there could be a lot of excitement and attention as she's walking down the aisle. Practice in advance, and appoint a member of the wedding party to step in with treats if necessary.
5. Sign Bearer
Another role for a relaxed pet is to hold a sign outside the ceremony or down the aisle. "Here comes the bride and groom" is a popular choice for pets who want to strut their stuff. You could also place the pup as the greeting committee at an outdoor ceremony. "Sit anywhere you like." Or "It's hot outside! Please grab a fan."

6. Recessional Escort
It can be hard for some pets to perform under the pressure of a ceremony. If you can't imagine exchanging vows without them, have a handler waiting in the wings. Right after "you may kiss the bride," the pup can run in to join your jog back down the aisle. Just think of how much more excitement a smiling dog will add to those happy pictures!

7. Wedding Pictures
Even if your pet skips the ceremony, she can always join for post-ceremony pictures. A few snaps of her with her humans and the wedding party will ensure she's included in memories of the big day. You might want to take this chance to get a solo shot with your pet. It will look so cute framed in your office or art studio!
8. Swizzle Sticks or Cocktail Napkins
Not all weddings are conducive for pets. If that's the case, give your pooch a nod with stirrer sticks in the shape of your pet or personalized cocktail napkins. Creative tip: have the outline of your pet embossed with your new last name and the date underneath. It's a subtle and classic way to show your love for a girl's best friend.

9. Signature Cocktails
If you're going to have a signature cocktail at your reception, consider naming it after your favorite pet. "Spike's Sazerac," or "Lucky's Lemon Drop" has a nice ring to it. Frame names with the ingredients on each bar. If you want to get fancy, include a watercolor or sketch of your pet.

10. Place Cards and Table Numbers
Incorporate your pet into the table card design or the holder itself. Print black and white pictures of your pet and paint or print the table number overtop in gold (or one of your wedding colors). There are a lot of animal options for paperweights, photo holders, and place card holders. If you find one you like, you can always DIY by spray painting it in a metallic color, or one of your accent colors. Then pop the table number or name card into it. This will elevate the look of the table, while still paying homage to your special friend.

11. Cake Topper
Custom cake toppers are so in. Whether it's a silhouette of you, the groom, plus your pup – or a caricature or your little family. You can select a topper that matches the look and feel of your wedding cake – and includes the last member of your family.
Feather & Twine
Kelsey Combe Photography | Mustard Seed Photography

Alison Conklin Photography

12. Party Favors
Puppy chow, anyone? Send your guests home with a "doggie bag" of goodies after your reception. Go the extra mile with custom cookies in the shape of your pet. You can also order bags or paper containers with your pet's face printed on them. Your guests will leave with a smile on their faces!

13. Reception Send-Off
When life settles down, it will be you, your husband, and your pet. Set the tone by leaving your reception arm in arm with your groom and your dog – or cat, or bunny, etc. This is the start of your new life together! And the pictures will be precious.

14. Custom Thank You Notes
Your venue might not be pet-friendly, but your pet is always a friendly face on thank you notes! Have custom cards printed with your pet in a starring role. With some advance planning, you could have them wear a "thank you" sign during the engagement photo shoot to use later for the stationary. It's another way to add a personal touch to the end of your wedding celebration.

Remember:
Odds are you won't want your pet running amok all day and night. Plus, she will want some down time too. Animals can internalize all the stress and excitement of your big day! Designate someone to entrust your animal while she's not "performing." Hire a dog sitter. Work with the hotel or a pet boarder to arrange a handler and a place to stay. Or arrange for a specialized pet care and chauffeur service like this one.

No matter how you chose to incorporate your pet on your big day, in her eyes, you're the best mom in the world. And that's what makes your bond so special.

Style Me Pretty Contributor - Madeline Littrell is a corporate PR strategist and freelance writer. Born and raised in the South, she loves big hair, country music, and chicken fingers. Madeline lives in Dallas with her Sheltie puppy, Tennessee