Humanist weddings are all about individuality. At Humanist Ceremonies, we say, ‘It’s your wedding, your way’, and if your dog is a huge part of your life and you want them at your wedding, then they should be at your wedding!
It’s already quite common for humanist weddings to include a couple’s children – which can be a great way to celebrate two families coming together, or bring a child along with your journey. Family is important, and for many people, four-legged friends are part of the family. This article is aimed squarely at pet lovers who couldn’t dream of getting married without including the whole family.
If your venue is dog-friendly, then we’d be delighted for your dog to attend – or to play a part in your wedding ceremony. A humanist celebrant is here to make your vision of your wedding come true. And as we are a nation of pet lovers, you won’t be surprised to hear a few celebrants have had requests for a beloved pooch to play a role in the ceremony.
For example, humanist celebrant Rachael Meyer conducted a ceremony for Helena and Ollie where the number of dogs equalled the human guests – and a good time was had by all!
With a humanist wedding, your celebrant will work with you to create a ceremony that reflects your personality and feels full of emotional significance and meaning to your guests. Even ideas some might see as silly, when tastefully included into your wedding, can add to the emotional weight of the event.
Why not include your dog as your ring-bearer or flower ‘girl’? Or let them walk you down the aisle? Alternatively, you could have a ‘Dog of Honour’ instead of a ‘Maid of Honour’ or a ‘Best Boy’ instead of a Best Man. Just don’t let them hold the ring in their mouths. That sounds like a nightmare waiting to happen.
If your dog’s taking on an important role in your wedding ceremony, it’s a good idea to make sure they’ve had lots of practice before the big day. And make sure there are lots of treats at the ready!
You should also take them for a walk earlier in the day, giving them an opportunity to do their business and making sure they aren’t restless or inclined to yelp during the special moments of your ceremony. You can’t fault an animal for not knowing wedding etiquette, so think about their needs in advance!
If they’re attending as a guest, make sure you have a friend or relative who knows your dog well to take on the responsibility of dog-sitter for the duration of the ceremony – equipped with treats, water, and plastic bags. Make sure they feel confident to leave with the dog at any time in the ceremony if necessary. They can always come right back after. You and them might need to agree a ‘Plan B’ in case it all gets too much for your pooch and they need to get away from the crowd – or the heat if it’s an outdoor wedding on a hot summer’s day.
One perk is it means you create a new human ‘role’ in the ceremony for a dog-loving relative or friend!
It really is up to you. A dog wearing a floral crown, ribbons instead of a collar, wedding bandannas, and a variety of dogs in bow ties. Let’s face it, what is more adorable than a dog in a bow tie? As long as your dog is comfortable with it, go for it. If not, the spots and stripes nature gave them will do perfectly.
You may want to choose a wedding photographer who has experience of photographing pets at weddings. You’ll want to make sure these memorable moments are captured forever. Brief your photographer in advance about the dog and any photos with the dog you’d like to feature, including group shots, time with the groom, or posed shots with props or key guests.
If you’re having a relaxed, outdoor reception, it should be fine for your dog to join in, so long as they won’t get overwhelmed by children or crowds – or be tempted to help themselves to the buffet!
But, if your reception is indoors at a hotel, and you decide not to have your dog with you, you may need to check the hotel’s policy with regard to leaving dogs unattended in bedrooms. You may need to make alternative arrangements.
It’s not just dogs taking part in humanist weddings, horses are popular wedding guests too! They can certainly add a romantic Jane Austen or Poldark vibe to the ceremony. They tend to be extremely photogenic animals too, even if they’re shy.
Countryside weddings have been known to feature the occasional chicken, too. If the farm is part of your life, and part of your story, and you want to include it, your celebrant can ask you questions in the course of putting together your ceremony to include that aspect of your life in the ceremony. That may mean an animal making appearance, but it could be done with a well-chosen symbolic act, reading, or through what you choose to wear.
We also have a couple of celebrants who would love to conduct ceremonies where goats or rabbits or cows are in attendance. Whatever your wedding ideas – just ask! If you’re not sure what you want just yet, a humanist celebrant is a creative savant who is on hand to help you express your ceremony in the truest and most perfect way.
We’d love to say cats are happy to take part in ceremonies, but the truth is you can’t force a cat to do anything, and even a cat that loves its owners (sorry, staff) is very unlikely to do anything you ask. If you’re having a ceremony in your own home, with a small number of people, and you leave the best seat in the house free, your cat just might make an appearance. But you can’t bet on it!
If you’re ready to start planning your dog-friendly wedding, talk to a humanist celebrant today.