By Jill Jaracz
Your wedding VIPs are your family – including your four-legged family members. So why not include your pets into your celebration?
Here are seven inspired ways to have your pet at your big day:
Make your stationary extra personal by featuring your flurry friend. Tracie Morris, certified wedding planner at Detroit-based You're The Bride, suggests including your pet in engagement photos and using them to make adorable save the date and thank you cards.
Pooch of Honor
Groomsmen and bridesmaids are your closest friends – even if they're your pets! Honolulu-based photographer Reis Shimabukuro shot a wedding that featured the couple's three dogs as part of the wedding party. The groom's Labrador retriever wore a sign saying, "Daddy, here comes Mommy," and stood beside the best man. The bride's two lapdogs walked down the aisle with the maid of honor.
When Ethan and Tina Kramer of Stamford, Connecticut, tied the knot in 2015, including their Swedish Vallhund Charlie was a no-brainer. "We got him around the time we got engaged. It was part of building a life together," says Ethan.
Charlie stole the show as the couple's ring bearer and sole member of the wedding party. Ethan's best friend attached the rings to Charlie's collar and released him down the aisle, where the happy couple was thrilled to see him.
Fancy Flower Dog or Cat
Does your pet look great in florals? Attach a floral wreath around its neck and have it be your flower girl. Human flower girls can also escort your pet down the aisle. Just make sure your pet is familiar with the children prior to the big day so it'll cooperate, says Morris.
This is also a good option for cats, though "cats are going to be a little harder to contain," says Morris. She advises carrying the cat or keeping it safe in a wagon.
Some venues may not allow pets, but that doesn't mean they can't have a presence. Ashley Lodge, a photographer based in Morristown, Tennessee, shot a wedding for a couple who have two rescue dogs. The couple wanted the dogs at the ceremony, but the venue prohibited pets.
"The bride was so sad she could not walk down the aisle with her two best friends, so her father put a few paw print stickers down the aisle, which made her cry so hard when she saw them! It was beautiful!" says Lodge.
Guest Book Beauty
Another fun way to include your pet is to incorporate them into your guest book. Morris suggests taking a picture of the three (or more) of you, blowing it up into a 16√ó20 inch photo. Have your guests sign the mat around your photo, and then hang it in your house as a beautiful memento.
Strike a Pose
Don't forget to take some formal photographs with your pet. Lodge suggests having a mini session with your pets during the formal photo shoot before or after the ceremony.
This idea also works well with non-traditional pets. One of Lodge's clients wanted to incorporate two goats, two cows and two dogs into their wedding, so she worked them into the photos.
Don't forget to have a plan for your pet before during and after the ceremony. Designate a friend or a professional pet sitter to keep an eye on them, so Fido or Fluffy will have a fun, comfortable night too.