I’ve said it a hundred times, and I’ll say it a hundred times more. . . PERSONALIZE YOUR ELOPEMENT! Incorporating things you love like activities, pets, drinks, food, etc. will make it that much more fun and special. And today, we’re diving into one of my favorites from that list: how to involve your pets in your elopement! Whether you’ve got a cat, a horse, or you want to involve your dog in your wedding, I’m giving you everything you’ll need to make sure it goes smoothly, as well as 5 fun ways to incorporate your four-legged besties into the day. Get excited – this is a fun one!!
8 Tips to Help Things Run Smoothly
Your pets are your BABIES: they’re your best friends, and so it’s easy to see why couples often want to bring them along on the special day!
But it’s no secret that pets are a lot of work – and that work doesn’t stop on your elopement day. Simply bringing along your pet without planning ahead & preparing will NOT end well if something goes wrong, or if your animal ends up causing you stress on the big day.
Here are my top tips to help your elopement run super smoothly when you bring your pet along, so you’re not worrying about an uncooperative pet on your big day!
1. Pick a pet-friendly location
This is a super important one and is something you need to take into consideration when picking the location of your elopement. Not all outdoor locations are pet-friendly, especially many spots/trails in state parks and national parks.
Keep in mind any special needs your pets may have, fears they might face with certain terrain, or comfort levels (for both you and them).
Do your research ahead of time on what the environment is like at your desired location, as well as if pets are even allowed there & if you’ll need any special permits or fee requirements.
The biggest priority is keeping you & your pet safe, so don’t choose a location where you could get in trouble for bringing your pet, or anywhere that could cause them harm. Think through what the ground will be like, and if you might need to put some booties on your pet.
For example – you might not want to elope in the middle of a desert with tons of cacti around & spikes all over the ground! (Not that you’d find that in Alaska – but I thought it was a good example to get the point across)
2. Assign a caretaker
The last thing you want on your elopement day is to be worrying about your pet every single minute!
If you’re bringing any guests along, I highly recommend assigning one of them to take care of your pet throughout the day. This way, you’re free to be with your partner and enjoy their presence, without trying to wrangle up your dog that won’t walk in the right direction, or having to pick up poop in your nice wedding attire. The caretaker can also watch your pet while you get photos taken of just the two of you, and during your ceremony!
3. Leave No Trace
Leaving No Trace is an incredibly important factor to remember when bringing a pet along to your elopement.
If you’re not familiar with the Leave No Trace organization, they help people explore the outdoors in a way that is sustainable & minimizes impact on the environment as much as possible.
This is something I am very passionate about, as the majority of my elopements take place in the great outdoors. I help my couples make sure we plan to minimize our impact on the land we use for their elopement so that future couples & visitors can experience it just as wonderful as we did!
One of the 7 Leave No Trace Principles is “Dispose of Waste Properly,” which definitely applies to bringing pets into the wilderness! It’s important to learn how to dispose of animal waste properly if there are no assigned waste bins in the area. You can do so at this webpage, and read more details about why it’s so important to “Pack In, Pack Out!”
Always always bring along plenty of waste bags, and bring a thick garbage bag along with you to put the small waste bags in, if you want to keep it with you until you find a waste bin.
4. Hire pet-friendly vendors
Make sure your vendors who will be present on the elopement day (e.g. officiant, photographer, videographer, day-of coordinator) are chill with you bringing your pet! Give them a heads up – let them know what kind of pet you have and if you have anything specific in mind. That way they can come up with fun ways to include them in your elopement, and are prepared to deal with an animal when they arrive!
5. Make sure they’re good with people
Depending on the location of your elopement, you may end up being near crowds/other visitors. You’ll also obviously have your photographer, videographer, and any guests along with you. So it’s important to make sure your pet will be well-behaved around people!
Make sure they’re trained not to run after nearby walkers/runners/bikers, and that you keep them on a leash so you have full control of them. We don’t want to have you running after your dog through the forest while you’re trying to say your vows!
6. Bring neutral-colored accessories
It’s important to take color into consideration if your pet needs a lead or harness of some sort. Choose neutral colors such as blacks, whites, or greys if possible, so that their neon green, crazy-patterned leash isn’t a distraction in photos. If you can coordinate their accessories with your elopement attire, that’s always fun too!
7. Pack plenty of treats & toys
If your pet can be bribed with treats or toys, definitely bring them along! It helps to have something to wave around and draw attention to me for photos, or to get them to behave a certain way. You could bring your dog’s favorite chew toy, a laser pointer for a cat, dog/cat treats, carrots for horses, or whatever else your pets love.
Be sure to also bring plenty of water & a portable bowl along so they can stay hydrated – especially on hot days!
8. Keep them calm
Lastly, make sure your pet won’t be nervous or scared on your elopement day. It could be easy for them to get scared by all the people, nearby cars/roads, or the terrain you’re on – so don’t do anything that your pet won’t be comfortable with. We want them to be just as happy and carefree as you two on your elopement day!
5 Fun Ways to Involve Your Pet in Your Elopement
1. Plan pet-friendly activities
Pick an activity that your pet will enjoy, and include it in your elopement! If you often take your dog for walks or snuggle with your cat at home, incorporate that. Ride your horse through the mountains, or take your hedgehog on a stroll through the park.
Find ways to keep your pet happy, and choose activities that allow them to participate!
2. Buy fun accessories for them
Who doesn’t love a cute bowtie on a dog?? It’s sooo fun to accessorize your pets for your elopement!
Here are a few accessory ideas you could consider:
- Flower crown
- Raincoat/jacket to match your elopement colors
- A pillow that wraps around them to carry your rings, or something that carries a sign with your initials/names
- Cute booties to protect their feet
- Custom collar with your elopement date/names/etc.
3. Have their paw print on your (keepsake) marriage license
You’ll sign an official marriage license, and then you’ll likely sign a prettier one to frame & put in your house: why not have your pet sign it with you?! Put some pet-safe ink on one of their paws, and add a paw print to your keepsake marriage license. You’ll have it as a memory forever!
4. Walk down the aisle with them
If you’ll be walking down some sort of aisle or path to get to your ceremony, have your pet alongside you! This is such a fun way to bring them to your ceremony, whether you’re each walking separately, with family members, or are walking in together. Then, hand them off to somebody (your assigned caretaker) once you get to your spot!
5. Incorporate them into your meal/decor/etc.
Finally, incorporate them into your meals, dessert, or decor. Have them included in your cake topper, add paw prints in frosting to your cake, have photos of them set up somewhere, there are so many fun ways you could include their name, initials, prints, etc.!
How to Include Your Pets in Your Engagement Session
Are you wanting to include your pets in your engagement session? Check out this article for tips & inspo photos!
There you have it, my friends – all of my tips for involving your pets in your elopement! Bringing along your four-legged BFF’s can be frustrating at times, but will make the day so special.
Ask me for help & specific tips about bringing your pet along when we’re planning your elopement. And if you’re still looking for your photographer, reach out here!