Carla and I attended several weddings of family and friends over the June and July months this year. Many of the ceremonies and celebrations were held outdoors - a growing trend which has also made it easier to include pets in the activities of the day.
However, it does take an extra bit of preparation when including pets in these events. Unfamiliar spaces, activities and people can make the pet you thought you knew so well, well... unpredictable.
Here are 10 simple tips for including pets in special events and celebrations:
1. Your pet's temperament. Don't fudge here... you know if your pet is wild in crowds, cowers from loud music or chases lightening bugs. Consider the perfect stress-free op and include your pet in a photo session prior to the event, using the pics on invitations or thank you notes.
2. Venue's pet policy. Indoor venues maybe less open to the possibility, but these days, most will at least have a pet policy.
3. Inform guests your pet(s) will be included. Giving the heads-up with a little note (or picture) on the event invitation or on the wedding save the date announcement will allow everyone to plan ahead and avoid fearful or allergic situations.
4. Refresh obedience training basics. If you are including your pet in any part of the day's celebrations, he/she should be considered a member of the party - and most parties need a little rehearsal/training. Come, sit, stay, down and leave it! (Good luck with these commands with your guests!)
5. Designate someone to be in charge of pet during event. Whether a wedding celebration or a simple event you are in charge of, you will be the center of attention and very, very busy. Provide responsible party/sitter with cleanup baggies & treats and let them take care of the "details".
6. Provide ways for sitter to control or comfort pet easily. Attach a short/traffic lead to your pet, if possible, making it easier for even the closest person to grab hold in the event things get out of hand. Dependent on the event type or location, provide pets with a "safe", space of their own. A supervised crate or pen can allow them to duck out of over-stimulating activities.
7. Consider toxicity to pets of decor plantings and foods served. Many of the plants and foods we include in celebrations can be toxic for pets. Let your florist and your caterer know what type of animal will be included so that they can offer you appropriate options.
8. Make sure any costumes are comfortable for pet.
9. Confirm with photographer you are including your pet. Animals are not always easy to include in photo shoots. Your photographer will appreciate notice and will take it into consideration when planning the sets. It also would be helpful if the photographer and pet(s) could meet and become acquainted before the scheduled shoot.
10. Be ready for the unexpected and go with it! You know... pets and children.