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. Maybe your pet would be the perfect greeter? Some older pets might be ideally suited to hospitality, simply sitting where guests arrive with a sign welcoming them.
But before you get carried away with your planning, do take the time to consider some special needs and accommodations that must be made for a flawless pet-friendly wedding on the Outer Banks.
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! You know your pet better than anyone, so don’t throw them into the festivities without a little prep work. You’re going to be busy, so make sure you have one or two dedicated caregivers assigned to look after Fido so he is walked and fed, medications are administered, and a bed is properly set up while you’re getting ready.
Also, think about your pet’s health at your ceremony – many plants and flowers are toxic if eaten, and hot sand can burn the pads of an animal’s feet. And, of course, don’t forget the water. Just as every bride needs lots of hydration on her big day, so does your pet. A beach wedding can get hot!
Your chosen pet sitter should be willing to take responsibility for the safe transportation of your pet both to and from the wedding, ensure ample exercise, food and potty breaks. In most cases, it is ill-advised to include your canine in the reception. Dogs perceive the world through smell, and the combination of new scents, food, loud music, and dancing during the reception could be source of unnecessary stress.
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.
A Word About Local Animal Control Laws
Be aware of leash laws. Every town and private venue on the Outer Banks will have their own pet policy. When holding a wedding in a public park, a privately-owned venue or any commercially owned business, you must check with that entity before planning your ceremony. One thing to remember, no matter where your ceremony takes place, clean up after your pet! Bring waste bags with you and dispose of them properly.
In Corolla, dogs are allowed year round on the beach and at the Whalehead Club’s Heritage Park but must be on a leash. Leashed dogs are welcome throughout Duck, including the municipal boardwalk, Duck Trail, the Duck Town Park and on the beach. For a Southern Shores wedding, please keep your pet on a leash at all times and remember that from May 15 through September 15, dogs are only permitted on Southern Shores beaches from 6pm to 9am. On Kitty Hawk beaches, dogs must be on a 6-foot leash from 10am to 6pm beginning the Friday before Memorial Day through the day after Labor Day. From 6pm to 10am 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 as long as they stay within 30 feet of their owner and return when called. Pets must be kept on a leash at all times in the town of Kill Devil Hills and are not permitted on the beach from 9am to 6 pm between May 1 and September 30. Pets are welcome at any Nags Head beaches and parks any time as long as they are on a 10-foot leash. On Hatteras Island beaches (including Rodanthe, Waves, Avon and Salvo), with the exception of some designated swim beaches, dogs are allowed provided they are on a 6-foot leash.
As the Big Day Draws Near
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.♠
Top feature image Lori Douglas Photography