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Your pet sleeps at your feet, goes with you on vacation and is included in your annual holiday card photo. Let’s face it: our pets are often not just pets, but close family members, so including them in your wedding is a natural fit.

Making your furry (or not-so-furry) friends part of your special day is one option, but it’s not the only way to give your animal “baby” his or her due. Your dog may love walking down the aisle, but your cat … not so much! Consider carefully exactly how much and when (and if!) you can or should include them. Here some unique ways to highlight your “best friend” in your wedding—whether he or she can make a live appearance or is just there in spirit.

Pets Are Photogenic

If you’re sending out engagement announcements or save-the-date cards, then you may have just found the perfect opportunity to share the spotlight with your pet. This is especially true if your favorite animal will not be suited to a live appearance on your wedding day (such as a cat, guinea pig or snake). Another idea is to arrange for them to be there on your wedding day for photos, but not stay for the whole event. You’ll need to hire a pet caretaker, not a wedding guest, to bring them and take them home so you’re free to enjoy your day (trust us, you do not want to spend your wedding day focused on taking care of your pet, however adorable he or she is at home).

Pets Can Participate

Many people love the idea of their pet friend being a part of the wedding. Certainly, a well-trained pet can be a ring bearer, walk down the aisle with your flower girl or simply sit at your feet during the ceremony. Again, you’ll need to have an official “minder” to be in charge of your animal. You’ll have other things to do, as will your family and friends.

At the Reception

You can have a lot of fun with pet themes at the reception. Name your signature cocktail after your pet (think Rover’s Bark-Tini). Have your baker incorporate paw prints onto the wedding cake or order a special cake topper that shows your pet by your side. Your table numbers or escort cards can also feature a cute image of your favorite buddy. You can even have special decorations, like figurines or origami animals, on the tables.

Fun and Games

Lots of people love to have photo booths at their weddings, so if you decide to have one, make sure the photo booth props carry the pet theme. You can have life-sized cardboard cutouts of your pet made and have animal ear headbands and accessories to use in the photos.Another fun touch for couples who know their guests have pets is to have treat bags for them set up next your favors. It’s a thoughtful touch animal lovers will appreciate.Ready to start planning? Schedule a consultation with one of our event managers today!Robert Ryan Catering and Design plans and executes over 400 events each year, boasts a five-star rating on WeddingWire and has received WeddingWire’s Couple’s Choice/Bride’s Choice Award seven years in a row. Learn more about Robert Ryan Catering & Design and tour our venuesSubscribe to our e-newsletter for exclusive offers, up-to-date news and recipes from our executive chef.Kim MacKinnonPhotos, top to bottom: Daniel Fullam Photography, Daniel Fullam Photography, Bartlett Pair Photography, Bartlett Pair Photography,  Liz and Ryan Photography