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Weddings are a huge life event, typically shared with important loved ones. For some of us, this means our animal as well as human family. In 1995, when I said “I do,” our wedding party included my Yorkshire Terrier, Meme, also known as "Small Dog,". She was definitely as precious to me as human loved ones, and she was an integral part of our family when I joined my life with Thomas Denham. I look at those pictures today with the warmth and fondness of any wedding album, but add a little extra for the memory of sharing the day with a funny, domineering and loving dog daughter.

In my case, I carried Meme instead of flowers during the ceremony. This was manageable, because she was about the same size as a floral bouquet; but it would not work for my beloved Harvey, a Golden Retriever. Still, larger pets can play the role of best dog or dog of honor. They can be attired in flowered leashes and formed ties, or can even be fully clothed. Flower dogs and ring bearer dogs are other roles your pet can play in the wedding party. Some weddings have even utilized rescue puppies as the bouquet carried by bridesmaids, with the idea of helping the puppies get adopted and promoting donations to the rescue group involved. Dogs are not the only animals that can attend weddings. Some couples have included horses, alpacas, llamas and more exotic animals in their ceremonies. A wedding venue in Thailand has an elephant dressed in white that can be part of your nuptials.

For those who utilize a venue that prohibits animal participants, you can still incorporate your animal family in the celebration. A save the date card with pets wearing a sign saying, “I knew him/her first” is an endearing way to let folks know the value you place on them in your newly forming family. Photos of your animal family members can also be incorporated into place cards and wedding invitations. 

To honor a cherished deceased animal, consider adding animal-related charities as a part of your wedding gift registry. With proper planning, animal family can become part of the engagement process and photos, even if they cannot be in the actual wedding. The ability to include the entire family in this joyous event is only limited by our imagination and creativity.

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