Ever thought about having your dog as the ring bearer or best man at your wedding, or carrying your beloved kitty down the aisle? Or, how about riding into your wedding venue on your trusty steed?

What could be cuter, right?

According to recent statistics, it seems that our furry BFFs—especially dogs—are slowly having a “paw” in many wedding ceremonies, and “something old, something new, something borrowed and something furry” is becoming the latest “buzz” at weddings.

As many households have added a pet to their family dynamic in recent years, surveys show that this trend is on the uptick and pet participation in wedding ceremonies has increased by more than 30% in the last few years and nearly 213% from 30 years ago.

After polling 2,000 dog owners recently, a survey by Guide Dogs found that 94% of dog owners planning a 2022 wedding were prepared to have their furry companions play a starring role in their nuptials.

It seems that celebrities have long held to the tradition of including their fur babies in their wedding day.

When Adam Sandler and Jackie Tetone wed, Sandler’s beloved Bulldog, Meatball, acted as his ring bearer and best man.

Julienne Hough and NHL Star Brooks Laich said “I Do,” with their two King Charles pups, Lexi and Harley, in attendance.

Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux had their dogs, Sophie and Dolly, by their side on their special day.

Carrie Underwood and Mike Fisher’s special guest on their wedding day was her dog Ace, decked out in a powder-pink tuxedo.

If you and your partner are at all inclined to do this, there are some things to consider before embarking (pun intended) on this venture.

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Know Your Pet’s Personality

To begin with, it's important to take into account your pet’s personality and whether or not your venue allows animals, but the “pawssibilities” are many.

Is your pup socially inclined? Is he happy to meet and greet people or does the sight of a crowd and loud noise send him into a terrified tizzy? If that’s the case, then he should definitely RSVP, “No.”

Some venues may not allow your pet to be at the actual wedding, but there are many other meaningful ways to include him in his parents’ Big Day.

Pet participation for dogs can range from: ring bearer, Dog of Honor, walking the bride down the aisle, standing with groomsmen during the exchanging of vows or perhaps participating in your first dance as a wedded couple.

Your furry BFF can even dress for the occasion. Your pup can be decked out with a bowtie that matches those of the groomsmen, a floral collar to match the bridesmaids’ bouquets or, how about a little dress so your fur baby can be an honorary flower girl? The options are endless.

In the US, depending on where you live, your pet can be a legitimate wedding witness in the eyes of the law. In 23 states and Washington D.C., no official witness is required, so having your dog, cat or even your rabbit or gerbil or other well behaved pet family member would be totally acceptable. You may only need to show a signature paw print on the marriage license.

When Pets Aren’t Allowed

If pets aren’t welcome at the venue you’ve selected, there are many other ways of honoring them, no matter what breed, and many ways to include your BFF in absentia.

Martha Stewart offers a host of interesting suggestions on how to do that. Among them: signature cocktails named for them, illustrated napkins with their likeness, take-home “doggie” bags with custom stickers featuring your pet's face, or even cake toppers featuring them, with or without you. Pet-inspired signage is another popular way of honoring furry friends.

If your pet family member happens to be a horse, since horseshoes symbolize good luck, how about placing a horseshoe at each place setting and using a mini horsehead bust as table numbers?

If your venue doesn’t allow your pet to be there, consider having your furry friend pose with you before or after the ceremony outside of the location.

The options for including this special family member are many but obviously require some extra TLC when planning.

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Know What the Venue Allows

Another aspect to consider if you’re planning an all-inclusive weekend wedding and want pets to partake in the festivities is to find out whether your hotel or venue allows fur babies and if it would be feasible for them to be with you throughout.

Some ALHI members, such as the Fairmont Washington, D.C., and Broadmoor in Colorado, offer pet friendly accommodations and pet packages.

Hiring a certified pet-sitter well versed in training dogs to assist during the actual event or the extended hotel stay is a good idea. Wedding couples obviously will be very busy on the wedding day and they don’t need to worry about keeping their dog out of the canapes, walking them, lining them up for photos, etc.

Another thing to consider is making sure that your pet is comfortable during the ceremony and not be burdened with wedding attire and accessories that could make the pet nervous or unnecessarily fidgety. A simple bow tie or flower garland around the neck should suffice as far as a “costume.”

The American Kennel Club advises that you “Bring your dog to the venue before the wedding day to let him explore, sniff, and pee on everything at his leisure. He’ll be more comfortable on the Big Day if he’s familiar with the terrain.”

Let Your Guests Know

Be sure to let your guests know if your pet will be in attendance so that they can plan accordingly, in case they have allergies or a fear of any pets. Save the (Doggone) Date cards will alert them as to what to expect.

Don’t forget that this day is special for your dog, too, and like your other guests, deserves to dine in style. If he’s sticking around for the festivities, set up a special mini “dog table,” and make sure he has plenty of water and walks throughout the festivities.

Having your furry friend or any beloved pet family member by your side as you say “I Do” will be a special moment that you’ll cherish for years to come and, if you plan carefully, your wedding might just turn into the proverbial “Cat’s Meow” of the season.

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