Animals have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. More than just a pet, they’ve always been integral members of the family: my sister and I even used to call the dogs our brothers when we were very small. As I got older, I bought my own puppy (Coco, a Frenchie who has been by my side for over 9 years) and spent as much time around horses as I could. As well as dogs and horses, over the years we have had Guinea pigs, rabbits, cows, donkeys and goldfish: quite the menagerie.
The day Antonio proposed to me, I was overjoyed and immediately started thinking about who I would want to celebrate our wedding with us. My family, best friends and my longstanding rock: Coco. I know it can seem silly to some to attribute so much importance to a pet, but she has been there for me through everything: breakups, illness, living abroad and all the happy times I’ve had with my loved ones. So why wouldn’t I include her on one of the most important days of my life?
My fiancé was reticent when I announced my plan to have Coco be our ring-bearer with a custom floral collar, but I kept pushing and we eventually came to a compromise: Coco would join us during the wedding cocktail with her floral collar and we would take some family photos, just the three of us, after which she would go back home for a well-deserved nap. So was it worth it?
Undoubtedly, yes. I’m under no illusions that Coco will no longer be here one day, and I would forever have regretted not having her with us on our wedding. To have those images and memories with her, panting excitedly and wanting to run around and greet everyone, even if it was just for half an hour, brought a little bit of her unconditional love and magic to the day. I even recently spoke on BBC Radio Three on why pet owners/animal lovers should include their four-legged friends in their celebrations: it’s a piece of who we are and why should we let convention dictate who we can and cannot have around us on our big day (I’m referring to both animals and humans)?
My tips for having your pets by your side are quite simple really. Firstly, take into account the kind of animal you have and how this animal would be comfortable: dealing with a pet snake and a pet dog are very different here. Think of climate and temperature, you don’t want your pet to be struggling in a hot summer wedding or shivering in the snow. Secondly, bear in mind that some of your guests might be afraid/allergic of animals: I’m not suggesting confining your animals to a small space, but think of leads and large enclosures as options, also for safety. You don’t want anyone faceplanting because they tripped over your cat. Thirdly, decide if you would like to dress your pets. I tend to be partial to floral collars, which are comfortable, lightweight and read well both in photos and reality. Think of your pet’s happiness above all: you don’t want them struggling in a doggy tuxedo. And last but not least, consider your pet’s age and character.
You may adore your new puppy but if he or she isn’t house trained or very obedient yet, it might be more trouble than it’s worth: consider having them come for a limited amount of time for photos. Also bear in mind the animal’s character: can they become aggressive in crowds? Do they get scared easily? I can’t stress how important it is to put their happiness and comfort beyond yours.
Your wedding is a day of love, so go forth and incorporate those that truly love you unconditionally: your pets. Oh and your family and friends too.