Including Your Pets in Your Wedding
Successfully including pets in weddings is one of the cutest things you can do. But they’re not just your pets. They’re full-fledged family members, and they’re probably a lot more unconditionally loving than some of your human family. So why wouldn’t you include them in your wedding? Pet-friendly weddings are more popular than ever before. Dogs, cats, and even potbelly pigs playing roles as ring bearers, flower girls, and welcoming hosts.
If your animal is calm and can join the ceremony, maybe you can see them walking down the aisle dressed in a bow tie or adorned with a garland of flowers. Older pets can make excellent greeters, simply sitting where guests arrive with a sign welcoming them.
Consider arranging for grooming before the wedding so your pet will look their best. If you intend to accessorize, make sure they’re comfortable in fancy garb by trying it out a few times in advance. If your animal balks at a full get-up, surrender the fantasy and opt for a simple collar instead. In general, it’s best to keep adornments minimal and easy for the pet to wear. Don’t make him or her wear them for longer than is necessary.
Don’t get carried away with your planning yet. Being that there are some special needs and accommodations that must be made for a flawless pet-friendly wedding on the Outer Banks.
Find a pet friendly spot
The ideal time to find out if your hotel accepts pets is not at check-in day. Make sure your rental home or hotel allows pets, and be sure to check directly with them and not with Expedia or other third-party internet site. Most pet homes allow for one or two adult dogs with an additional pet fee that can typically range from $95-$200. Some companies charge no fee, so it pays to look around.
Finding a pet-friendly ceremony or reception venue can be a bit trickier. Some Outer Banks restaurants and public venues will only allow service animals. Your best bet are rental homes. Out on the beach, the regulations vary by town, the season, and the time of day— and usually with good reason. Dogs’ paws burn on hot sand. Furthermore, crowds may overwhelm your furry friend on busy summer days.
And no matter where you go, please remember to clean up after your dog.
Outer Banks Leash Laws by Town
Corolla: Dogs are allowed year round on the beach and at the Whalehead’s Heritage Park, but must be on a leash.
Duck: Leashed dogs are welcome throughout Duck, including the municipal boardwalk, Duck Trail, the Duck Town Park and on the beach.
Southern Shores: From May 15th to September 15th no dogs are allowed on the beach between the hours of 9am and 6pm. Otherwise they can be on the beach as long as they are on a leash.
Kitty Hawk: From the Friday before Memorial Day to the day after Labor Day dogs must be on a 6-foot leash from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. From 6 p.m. to 10 a.m. dogs may be on a 12-foot lead. The rest of the year, however, Fido may run on the beaches in Kitty Hawk leash free. That is as long as they stay within 30 feet of their owner and return when called.
Kill Devil Hills: From Memorial Day to Labor Day dogs are not allowed on the beach from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. All other times require a leash.
Nags Head: Dogs are allowed in all beaches and parks as long as they are on a leash that doesn’t exceed 10 feet.
Rodanthe, Waves, Avon, and Salvo: With the exception of some designated swim beaches, dogs are allowed provided they are on a 6-foot leash.
The bride has a maid of honor, and the groom has a best man. Your dog needs the same kind of backup if they’re going to be part of the big day. In fact, the odds are high you’ll be too busy to provide it yourself. Choose one or two trusted friends, preferably someone your pet knows, to be the designated pet sitter. Their job will be to make sure Fido has lots of water. Together with assuring they’re walked and fed, gets their medications, and have a bed or a shady spot to rest. If you think you’re hot in that dress, just imagine how your dog feels in a fur coat! Keep them cool and keep them hydrated.
Your pet sitter should also have a plan for when things don’t go according to plan. Weddings can be too much for your pet. The combination of new scents, food, loud music, and dancing during the reception might send your ordinarily chill dog into a tizzy. Have a secondary safe place for your dog to be, like back at your rental cottage, and make sure your pet sitter is prepared to duck out of the festivities and take your fur baby there if necessary.
You will want to be considerate of your guests too, of course. Do share your decision to include your pet in your wedding with your guests. Those who suffer from allergies or may be fearful of dogs can make informed decisions and take necessary precautions.
Can’t have your pet in your wedding?
Maybe your puppy is a tad hyperactive. On the other hand, bringing your beloved python may not have thrilled those running the venue. If your pet can’t be there on the big day there’s lot of other ways to include them. Get them in the picture for your engagement photos or save the date announcements. Have a cardboard cutout made for your photo booth. Or ask a local artist about making a custom cake topper that includes your fur baby.
Pets play a big part in our lives. Why shouldn’t they be part of our happiest day? Before deciding what their involvement may be, just be sure to have all the information you need. ♥
Top feature photo by Katiedid Photography