Main photo: Sarah D’Ambra
Just as a couple may want to include their children in the wedding ceremony to highlight the joining of two families, a couple with pets may want to have their beloved four-legged friends be a part of their special day.
Our pets play an important role in our lives and what better way to honor them than have them participate. Pinterest abounds with fun, thoughtful and unique ways to make Fido or your feline part of the celebration. But before you get carried away hand making that silk top hat bedecked with the same flowers featured in your bouquet, it’s worth your time to consider some special needs and accommodations that must be made for a successful and flawless pet-friendly wedding on the Outer Banks.
Before you book your venue, rental house, or hotel, check to see if the beaches and walking paths near your venue are pet friendly. Vacation rental companies have their searchable databases for pet-friendly homes. Most pet homes allow for one or two adult dogs with an additional pet fee that can typically range from $95-$200. Fees and cleaning costs will vary depending on the rental company, the number of pets and each particular homeowner, so it is best to research before finalizing your rental. When it comes to your reception, if you must have Fido there, consider holding it at your rental house or under a tent at a pet-friendly beach. Most Outer Banks restaurants and public venues will only allow service animals.
A Role to Play
You love your pet enough to want them to be a part of your wedding, so give them the role they were meant to play. If your animal is calm and can join the ceremony, allow them to walk down the aisle dressed in a bow tie or with a garland of flowers, have them sit where guests arrive with a sign welcoming them, or allow your pet to be the ring bearer. Own a high energy pet? Perhaps you can have them join you after the ceremony for photos or at the reception when everyone’s cutting loose. Honor the memory of a pet that can’t be present with a photo at the reception or a special mention in the program.
You know your pet better than anyone – they’re your furry child. Don’t throw them into the wedding weekend without a little prep work.You’re going to be busy, so make sure you have one or two guests assigned to look after your pet so your munchkin gets properly walked and fed, medications are administered, and a bed is properly set up while you’re getting ready. And just like every bride needs lots of water on the big day, so does her pet. A beach wedding can get hot!
Don’t Forget the Small Stuff
Make sure to inform your wedding party and guests that a pet will be present as some attendants may have allergies to consider. 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. Consider assigning someone to pet sit your little buddy to ensure they stay clear of catering staff, food tables, and the dance floor. As the night wears on or the music gets louder, your pet sitter should have the house keys to allow your pet an escape. And just like you want your photographer to get candid shots of your family and friends, remind them to capture a few images of your pet joining in the fun.
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.
A partial list of local animal control laws:
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 are only permitted on Southern Shores beaches from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. On Kitty Hawk beaches, dogs must be on a 6-foot leash from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. beginning the Friday before Memorial Day through the day after Labor Day. 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 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 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 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 allows provided they are on a 6-foot leash. ♥