Who says your pets can’t be the most important guests at your wedding?

For many engaged couples, their four-legged friends are truly members of the family. And these days, more and more, couples are choosing to incorporate them into their wedding celebration itself – no family members should be left behind after all. But including pets in the wedding, whether as simply a guest or a ring bearer so cute they’ll be the talk of the ceremony, can come with unanticipated complications and surprises.

Luckily, couples don’t have to navigate these complications alone. PNW Weddings spoke with Stephanie Allen, a wedding day pet care expert and the owner of Wags and Garland, about her tips for making sure pets and their owners stay happy and stress free on the big day.

CONSIDER PET’s personality

Keep in mind that weddings can be a stressful day for humans and animals alike and all of that extra anxiety can affect a pet’s mood.

Weddings also generally include large numbers of people, many of them strangers, along with new environments and distractions. If a pet is particularly reactive to this type of stimulus, they may be especially overwhelmed.

Find out venue’s pet policy

This may be a no-brainer but include it on the list of questions to ask in the planning stages. No one wants to make an assumption only to be confronted by a venue’s policy at the last minute.

Don’t forget the details too. Clarify if there are certain times a pet is allowed vs not allowed (for example, they may be allowed during the ceremony but not when dinner is served). Also ask if there are other animals on the property and if there will be an appropriate place for the pet’s bathroom break.

Consider the right role

Stephanie Allen, of Wags & Garland has seen pets serve as ring bearer, Dog of Honor, Escort, and adorable greeters and knows first-hand how certain pets are better suited for some roles than others.

Keep in mind the requirements of each role and what will be the best fit for your pup. Don’t be afraid to get creative!

inform all wedding pros

You’d be surprised at the amount of logistics and planning each wedding professional takes on when committing their services to your big day. Make sure to let all of your vendors know that your pet will be involved in the wedding just so there are no surprises day-of and if they need to make any adjustments they have time to do so.

The planner and photographer can likely help with the timeline of events based on the pet’s needs.

Keep pets on their leash at all times

Pets want to be with their humans. The last thing a couple wants is for their animal to bolt from the handler or for them to unexpectedly disturb any guests.

Consider pet allergies

While this doesn’t necessarily have to be a deal breaker, it is important to consider any guests’ allergies and let the handler know if the pet needs to be kept away from anyone.

Don’t forget transportation

Weddings are all about logistics. Figure out the who, what, where, when and how the pet will be transported to the wedding, the reception (if they’re attending), and back home. If they tend to get carsick, make sure the handler is aware so they can prepare accordingly.

Bring BAGS AND BAGS of treats

Even if treats aren’t usually a big part of the animal’s routine, they will likely come in handy when trying to keep the animal from getting too overwhelmed. No one wants a barking fit in the middle of the exchanging of vows.

More About Wags & Garland

with a pulse on today’s couples, wags and garland fill a much needed gap in the wedding industry

When Stephanie Allen and her now-husband were planning their wedding in 2010, they hoped to include their bulldog, Kingston, in the big day. Unfortunately, they didn’t want to inconvenience family or friends and couldn’t figure out how to make it happen without adding too much stress on everyone.

Stephanie knew how helpful a service would be that’s designed to support brides and grooms in similar circumstances. She had the passion for animals, the event planning experience, and the drive to make it happen. Just a few short years later, Wags & Garland was born.

Wags & Garland is focused on making sure that both couples and their pets can enjoy being together and making beautiful wedding day memories. They provide fully customizable wedding day pet care. With an initial consultation over phone or email they’ll work with clients to understand how the pet will be incorporated and what their work together might look like. Wags & Garland provides support with everything from pet styling, event planner and photographer coordination, transportation to and from the venue(s), handling and accompanying the pet during any wedding events, and facilitating meet and greets with guests prior to the arrival of the bridal party.

But these services aren’t all that Wags & Garland do for their clients. They also provide behind the scenes photos from the pet’s point of view and give plenty of love and attention to their new furry friend, including taking time to settle them back at home following the event and more, depending on their client’s needs.

Stephanie knows how important these pets are to her clients so she always prioritizes safety. She’s certified in both Pet First Aid & CPR and Canine Safety & Handling and is fully registered, licensed, and insured.

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