Including your pets at your wedding

Including your dog in your weddingTo so many people, our pets are a legitimate extension of our family.  Some might even prefer the company of their furry friends to most other humans, and I don’t see anything wrong with that!  This does often lead to an important planning issue to handle, how do we include our dog, cat, llama, or pot-bellied pig into our wedding day?

Over the years, we’ve seen quite a few different attempts at this, and some work better than others.  So here are a few things to keep in mind when trying to decide on the best way to incorporate your pet into the big day:

Rules of the Venue  The first question you should be asking is to your various venue coordinators.  Many venues will allow a quick visit for photos with your pet, but might restrict the animals to being outside, or only for a few minutes.  Most churches are strict about this, so if you are having your ceremony at a church, you’ll most likely not be allowed to have them there.  It can’t hurt to ask though!  Reach out to your contact at the church or venue and ask if there are any restrictions to bringing in your little guy or gal. 

Personality & Temperament  The next thing to think about is how will your pet react to the craziness of the day.  If you’re hoping to have them walk down the aisle, but they are nervous around groups of people, it’s probably not a great idea to put them in that situation.  On the flip side, if they get SO EXCITED to see people, it’s probably asking for a very chaotic and stressful moment right before your big moment. 

Serve as a ring bearer or flower girl  If your pet passes the personality and temperament part of this quiz, it’s often tempting to include them as a flower girl or ring bearer, which is absolutely adorable!  My HUGE suggestion is to avoid the temptation of tying the wedding bands to the collar, or having them carry them on a pillow to bring to the Best Man.  Your little guy could have just taken home Best in Show at Westminster, I’m still going to recommend you put fake rings on that collar or pillow!  I actually give the same advice when we’re talking about little kids having the real rings.  Once those church doors open, or everyone stands and the music starts to play, the eyes of the audience on them can make them act out of character.  Previously cooperative little boys might sit down and refuse to go down the aisle, and well behaved golden retrievers might run for that squirrel in the distance.  It’s definitely not worth the risk, so make sure a responsible member of the wedding party is hanging onto the real rings before the ceremony begins. 

Logistics of the venue  Another big consideration you’ll have to make is regarding the logistics of the space.  Is there an outside space suitable for potty breaks?  Where will your cuddly buddy go after the photos or ceremony?  Make sure the venue has a safe and comfortable space for them, or better yet, arrange for someone to take them home where they will probably be happier.  If they will be staying onsite, or if you will be at a hotel and they can stay in the room, make sure to bring some familiar toys and/or blankets with you so they have something familiar, and are less tempted to “explore” the new space!

Will you have a sitter available?  This seems like a simple one, but a lot of our couples get stuck with this because most of their “go to” pet sitters will be attending the wedding, and are most likely close friends/family that you don’t want to be absent because they are taking care of Fido.  If you need to bring in someone new to help on the wedding day, I always recommend that you have them come by to meet your pet(s) a couple of times before the wedding day.  That way everyone will be familiar and comfortable with each other beforehand. 

What will they wear? It’s tempting to think that you’ll be able to dress your little one up in an adorable tux, or cute tutu dress, but if your pet doesn’t let you put so much as a festive bandana on at Halloween, it’s probably unlikely that you’ll succeed with this one.  Test it out though.  Sometimes they just need to get used to something new, so don’t wait until the wedding day to dress them up.  If the full outfit isn’t going to work, you can always add a bow or a bowtie to their collar, or dress up their leash with some lace or to match the wedding colors.  We’ve also had floral collars made for them, and they are so adorable!  Make sure to snap some pics right away though, they often get curious about them pretty quickly!

What will YOU be wearing? It’s important to not forget that you won’t be in your normal wears on the big day either.  Whether you’ll be in a tux, suit or fancy white ball gown, your little guy has the opportunity to do some damage.  If you know he/she is a jumper, avoid taking photos outside where their paws will get dirty.  You can also bring a white sheet with you to use as a barrier between the elements, and the photographer can help arrange it so it’s not visible.  Make sure to also have several lint rollers around so that those tux jackets will be pet hair free afterwards!

What if your pet can’t be at the wedding? If, for whatever reason, your pet can’t actually be present at the wedding, there are still plenty of ways to incorporate them into the big day!

  • Take them with you to your engagement photos and display those at the reception
  • Use images for stationery items like table numbers, favor tags, or welcome bag stickers
  • Have a custom cake topper made of them, there are lots of sources on Etsy!
  • Have a “doggie bag” table with dog treats for the guests to take home at the end of the night
  • In lieu of favors, make a donation to a rescue or shelter

How will you be involving your pet in the wedding day/plans?  Share your ideas on the Collective Forum!

How to Build your Vendor Team

With ten months to go before the big day, it is now time to start thinking about which vendors you would like to hire that will make your big day unforgettable. Vendors for your wedding can consist of, but are not limited to:

  •      Caterer
  •      Musician
  •      Photographer
  •      Videographer
  •      Florist
  •      Transportation

Choosing the correct vendors is an essential component to ensuring that your big day runs as smooth as possible. Prior to meeting with your vendors, we encourage you to take a look at these tips so you know what to expect during vendor meetings.

1.)   Know, Embrace, and Stick to Your Budget

Your budget is a huge factor when determining what services you will need from your vendors. By prioritizing your budget based upon your wants and needs from your vendors can allow you to narrow down which services you may need more of or less of.

2.)   What is Your Style?

At twelve months before your wedding we encouraged you to begin choosing your color scheme and style for your big day. This component of planning becomes essential when selecting which vendors will help convey your vision of your wedding day. In order to portray the vision you ideally would like to create on your wedding day, it may be helpful for you to bring examples of what you would like your vendor to provide including color scheme, Pinterest links, and any other forms of inspiration. If you do not have examples of what you specifically want, it is always helpful when portraying your vision to your vendors to know your likes and dislikes. This can help the vendors create exactly what you are looking for.

3.)   Do Your Research

When they say that preparation is key, they are not kidding. Doing your research about a potential vendor prior to meeting with them is important. This will give you a general idea of what services the vendor provides, and what you can expect from them. Research prior to meeting with your vendor allows you to see the possible package offers that the vendor provides (and the prices!). Take time to review these services to come up with questions specific to your needs.  

4.)   Come with Questions Ready

Thinking about your big day and the services you expect to receive from your vendors comes along with a lot of unanswered questions. Upon initially meeting with your vendors, we encourage you to write these questions down as they come up because your vendors will be more than happy to clear up those questions. Having your questions ready for your vendors and getting these questions answered will give you a clear idea of what exactly to expect from their services. If you are unsure of what questions to potentially ask your vendors, we found a helpful resource from Here Comes the Guide here.

5.)   Listen to your gut

After meeting with your potential vendor for the first time, it is important to remember that you are not set in stone with that vendor. Wait to sign any contracts until you are sure that they are the one. Do not be afraid to ask your potential vendor for other referrals. There is an emotional component involved when choosing your vendors, and if you do not seem to click with them, it is okay to look elsewhere. Your vendors are a huge contributing factor on your wedding day, and we urge you to find the vendor that is the best fit for you.