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Making Your Pet Part of Your Wedding

By: Alex Lieber

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If you're getting married, you may find the idea of your tuxedo-clad dog as part of the wedding party irresistible. You wouldn't be alone. People are increasingly including their pets in the wedding party because pets are considered members of the family.

In addition, many people meet while walking their pets in doggy parks. When they realize they were meant for each other, how can they exclude the pets who brought them together?

Of course, before your pet joins you on the walk toward holy matrimony, you should plan his or her role carefully. Above all, you should plan to maintain a sense of humor, no matter what happens. It's almost impossible to predict how your relatives are going to act, so don't expect to know how your pets are going to behave. (Hopefully, both will be on their best behavior, but you just never know.)

The type of pet you have affects his role. The groom or bride (or both) can ride to or from the ceremony on a horse. Smaller pets such as ferrets or rabbits will tend to have smaller roles. Cats are not generally cooperative; the large crowd and noise can be intimidating.

Dogs are the most common participants. They often stand up as one of the groomsman or even best "man" – which gives the whole man's best friend concept a new twist. Your pet should be well-behaved and trained to sit-stay.

Outfitting your dog for a tux is not as hard as you might imagine. Web sites such as www.doggyduds.com can provide a custom fit within a week by mail. If you want to match style and color, you'll need to plan ahead, notes Gayle Moore, owner of Doggyduds. You should also get your pet used to wearing clothing and walking up and down the aisle several weeks prior to the wedding.

Here are a few other tips to follow

  • Don't include your pet if he doesn't have the temperament. He can still observe the ceremony and be included in photos before or afterwards.

  • Make sure your pet is comfortable in his clothing well beforehand so alterations can be made. If the ceremony is outside, consider the weather before deciding on a material – you don't want your pet to suffer from the heat.

  • Your pet will need a willing and able chaperone, who is prepared to deal with difficult behaviors and "accidents." They do happen, and you will be just too busy to handle it yourself.

  • Make sure your pet has been walked and that he has had the chance to relieve himself before the ceremony.

  • The chaperone should also take care to prevent guests from feeding your pet. He should have his own wedding feast appropriate for his species!

    One final piece of advice: Pets are a lot like children in a wedding party, so be prepared to share a little of the limelight with them.

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