What you need to know before including your dog in your wedding
They say a dog is man’s best friend. As a cat owner, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say cats are best friends too. Anyone who’s ever owned an animal – cat, dog, other – knows just how much they become part of your family. It’s hard to imagine them not being part of your lives. So why wouldn’t they be part of your wedding day?
We’ve all seen wedding photos with pets or animals (such as farm animals who reside on the property for barn weddings), but there is a lot more that goes into having your “best friend” in your wedding than you might think. So we asked a few pet-friendly Hudson Valley venues, who have had dogs, fat sleepy cats, a parrot perched on the groom’s shoulder, a mini therapy horse and an occasional pig as guests, share what they’ve learned to help you and your pet have a fun, safe and stress-free day.
What does it mean to be a pet-friendly venue?
Ken Snodgrass, executive director at Locust Grove in Poughkeepsie, a 200-acre historic estate once home to Morse Code inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, says, first and foremost, any venue will be able to accommodate service animals, “but for pets that are there for more ‘entertainment,’ you just want to make sure they (the venue) can accommodate them (your pet).”
So, what does it mean to be pet-friendly? Ripley Hathaway, owner of A Private Estate Events in Germantown, a National Register 1856 estate which was the former barn complex of the famed Livingston family, says, “A pet-friendly venue can vary in meaning. We allow couples’ pets to participate in their ceremony and to stay in our Carriage House on the property with the couple…We do not allow guests to bring their pets.”
Richard Rozzi, venue manager at Crested Hen Farms in High Falls, a National Register 36-acre former dairy farm founded in the 1790s, says, “Frank (venue owner) and I are both animal lovers and know how much they mean to people and become part of the family.” On property, they have 85 chickens and two Abyssinian cats named Baghdad and Cairo. “Since they are like family members we made the decision to allow our clients to bring their pets and include them in their ceremony and/or reception.”
Is your pet wedding-friendly?
Just because you want your pet(s) to be in your wedding, that doesn’t mean THEY want to be. Rozzi says, “Make sure that it is in their (the couple’s) pet’s best interest to do so. Some pets can be stressed out by crowds and lots of people that they are not accustomed to. As long as their pets are socialized and people friendly then we strongly encourage it.”
You know your pet(s) better than anyone and you’re ultimately the ones that need to decide if you want them in or at your wedding. Snodgrass says observing your pet in different situations can help determine how they will be at your wedding: “How do your pets react in non-traditional environments, do they really like a lot of people or do they freak out in a dog park?”
“Do they do well with strangers approaching them? Do you walk them or do they walk you?” asks Hathaway. “There is a lot of wildlife on our property from squirrels to birds to deer. Would your dog decide to chase them instead of walking down the aisle with you?” She says you also have to consider who’s going to tend to the dog. “Is there a really close friend or family member who would be willing to miss part of your reception to take the dog home…while you party for eight hours or more? If any of these questions make you doubt how well they will behave perhaps you should include them in your engagement photos when it’s just you and them.”