From dogs and horses, to cats and even chickens, more brides and grooms than ever before are opting to include their beloved pet in their wedding, says Sarah Harris

According to the animal charity PDSA, 52% of the UK population own a pet, with pet owners claiming that their companions provide happiness and improve their quality of life. With pets playing an important part in our lives, there is little wonder as to why couples are choosing to include their pets in their wedding day.  

Jessica Bailey and Jamie Thurston married at Southwood Hall in Dereham, Norfolk in August 2022 and chose to make their dog, Harley, and horse, JD, a key part of the celebrations.   

Jessica says: “Harley stayed with friends and was brought to the wedding in time for the ceremony. He was then looked after by the groomsmen and was the first to walk down the aisle in the venue’s rose garden by our friend Allie Clay, followed by my bridesmaids and then me. He stayed for photos and was picked up again by friends just before the reception. 

"JD, the horse, had his photo taken the next day as we doubted his behaviour in a strange environment. They both made our wedding that extra bit special." 

From walking you down the aisle to acting as ring bearer, bridesmaid or best man, your pet can have a starring role in your big day. Alternatively, they can just be brought along for the photos.  

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Whatever you decide, there are various practicalities to consider when involving a pet in a wedding. Firstly, you should check with your venue or church whether they allow pets, even in outdoor spaces. You should consider how comfortable your pet usually is in new and unfamiliar surroundings, and whether they can get easily overwhelmed by lots of people. If they are of an anxious disposition, it might not be a good idea to include them – no matter how hard that decision may be.  

If your wedding venue is far from home, and you will be staying overnight at the venue or somewhere close by, think about how this will impact your pet. If your accommodation doesn’t allow dogs, you can ask family members or friends to help out, or research boarding facilities nearby.  

If you’re thinking of asking a guest to look after your pet on the day, consider whether they will want to take on this responsibility. To alleviate any stress for you and your guests, research pet chaperone services in your area to give your pet the best care by a professional.  

Even if your pet doesn’t make an appearance, there are plenty of ways to ensure they won’t go forgotten on the day. You could include a mention of them in the speeches, display photos of them and you around the venue, or order a cake topper which bears a resemblance. They could even be factored in to your mini-moon or honeymoon.  

With so much to consider before finalising the plans for your pet on your wedding day, by keeping their best interests at heart you will undoubtedly make a decision that is right for both you and them. 

READ MORE: 5 reasons why you should adopt a hen