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I Do: A Pet-Parent's Guide to Dog Friendly Weddings

It’s one of life's most special moments - exchanging vows with the person you love in front of friends and family. For those of us who are pet parents, it seems inconceivable to think that our beloved canine companions may not be included. They’ve been our partners in crime through thick and thin, through dating drama and single life. Why not incorporate them into the festivities?

If the idea of pup-inclusive ceremonies sparks joy, you're in luck! Pet-friendly weddings are only going to become more commonplace. A 2021 study conducted by Figo found that 84% of Gen Z pet owners are planning to include their dog or cat in milestone events like weddings. We sat down with two Figo team members who did just that to get their input on what worked and any tips they may have for other pet parents. Plus, read through the end for some fun ideas if you’re hoping to have your own pup join - even from afar!

Megan, Figo’s Competitive Analyst, and her dog Ripley

dog wearing flower collar on wedding day for her owners

Q: Megan – you included your rescue pup Ripley in your own wedding celebration. In what way was she involved in the festivities?

A: Ripley had been an important part of our relationship and growth as a couple, so it was even more important to have her in our wedding. Instead of giving Ripley a more traditional role like flower girl, we chose to give her the role of "Best Dawg". She got ready with me and my bridal party and had her own flower collar that matched our bouquets. She was walked down the aisle after the Best Man and Matron of Honor. Following the ceremony, she joined us and the rest of the wedding party for drinks at bar down the street and pictures around the city. Unfortunately, the reception venue didn't permit dogs, but that was for the best as she was very overstimulated by all the attention and people. Her handler took her home to rest for the remainder of the night.

Q: You answered this briefly above, but did Ripley wear anything special for photos or the ceremony?

A: We got Ripley a custom flower collar from Flowers for Dreams. It was adorable! My advice when it comes to dressing your dog up or having them wear something out of the ordinary would be that you really don’t want your wedding day to be the first time they wear a new collar or bow, etc. Get them accustomed to it in the weeks before so you don’t encounter any unexpected surprises (like a shredded flower crown) the day of.

Q: How did you ensure that Ripley remained calm amidst the chaos?

A: If you can, set aside time in your schedule to play with your dog – even if it is just for a few minutes. If they’re around while everyone is getting ready, they may feel nervous or overexcited with all the activity, and react by having an accident inside, nipping someone, etc. We also let Ripley retire for the day at a certain point so she could decompress from all the commotion.

Q: Is there any other advice you would give pet parents who are looking to include their dog in their wedding?

A: If you’d like to get photos with your dog, make sure you add them to your shot list so the photographer knows in advance. I also highly recommend having a handler for your dog. This was essential for us. Ripley’s handler kept an eye on her during the ceremony and festivities, and then was able to take her home to rest at the end of the night. Oh, and don’t forget your dog handler when it comes to your wedding party gifts!

Rebecca, Figo Claims Administration Team Lead, and her dog Ruby

dog in wedding photos

Q: Rebecca, Ruby was present for part of your festivities. How did you go about including her?

A: Ruby is a bit timid/skittish so the most we were able to incorporate her was by having her in some photos after the ceremony. However, she did a great job acting as head of the clean-up crew – she made sure all cake and food scraps were nowhere to be found on our floors after dinner. We didn’t even have to ask!

Q: Did she wear anything special for the photos?

A: She wore a bandana that said "My Humans Are Getting Married!"

Q: Is there any other advice you would give pet parents who are looking to include their dog in their wedding?

A: Absolutely. Have lots of treats on hand! Bring a high value/long-lasting treat to keep their attention for longer periods of time. Ruby loves a frozen Kong filled with peanut butter. If your pup is anything like mine (afraid of new people/spooks easily), assign someone to watch/handle your pup throughout the day that they know and are comfortable being around. Finally, when taking pictures, have someone behind the photographer hold/shake treats to get their attention. As you can see from the photo, that worked quite well for Ruby!'

Are there other ways I can include my pet in my wedding?

Of course, if your dog is very wary of strangers or crowds, it may be best to leave them home no matter how much you'd like them there. Similarly, cat owners may also be looking for ways to include their pets without physically bringing them to the ceremony. Here are some fun ideas to honor your companions, even if they can't attend:

  • Custom invites: you may want to include their likeness on your invitations. Some chose to illustrate them right on the card but you can also get personalized stickers created that look like your cat or dog and include those in the envelope.
  • Bottoms up: why not name a signature cocktail after your pet? This is a creative way to have them at your wedding in spirit(s) - get it?!
  • Gift it: create "doggy bags" that are filled with favors and treats for guests, and stamp or stencil the likeness of your pup on front.
  • Cake time: if you're already creating a custom topper for your wedding cake that resembles you and your partner, why not go the extra mile to include a little figure of your pet! Not only is this adorable, but it signifies your commitment and love as a whole family unit, including your pets.
  • Ice, ice, baby: Ice sculptures are beautiful statement pieces at any wedding - why not pay tribute to your dog or cat by shaping it to their likeness! Just don't forget to bring them some leftovers after the night is through.

Bonus: if you're a newlywed pet parent and pet insurance is on your list of must-buys, consider adding a pet insurance fund to your registry! That way friends and family can contribute to your goal of protecting your pet. It's common to ask for cash toward honeymoons, home funds, etc. so why not request something for the dog or cat who has been there for you through it all? If you're curious about how much to budget for, we recommend building your custom quote today!

Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.

Protect your pet from the unexpected with Figo Pet Insurance, rated “Best Pet Insurance” by since 2017.

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