As you wedding plan and scroll through all the real wedding photos on Instagram, Pinterest, wedding blogs, and the like, you might come across photos of couples who were able to include their pets in their wedding. Sometimes it’s a dog walking down the aisle with one of the rings attached to a pillow on its neck and other times it’s a furry friend showing up for group photos.

Related: How To Look Your Best In Your Wedding Photos

It’s awesome that these couples were able to celebrate their wedding day with their fur babies, but there are also many brides and grooms who would love to do so, but aren’t able to for various reasons.

Maybe you’re one of those people who would be over the moon to include your beloved pet, but your venue doesn’t allow it or your dog would be too anxious or you fear a guest might have an allergic reaction.

Whatever the case, there are still fun and creative ways you can honor your pets without them actually being at the wedding.

A black lab on a black leash standing between 3 people and staring up at the camera by the San Marcos River in Texas.  Photograph by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

Create a Signature Cocktail

There are plenty of cocktails named after animals (salty chihuahua, pink squirrel, rooster tail), so why not put a spin on these by creating your own wedding cocktail to honor your pet? You could even set up a sign that describes the drink and how it symbolizes the pet. For example: The Daphini (Daphne + Martini), chosen because it’s as sophisticated as your dog Daphne.

Top Off the Cake

Search “pet cake topper” on Etsy and you’ll see a variety of cake toppers that include pets. Some are sweet and simple illustrations, others are laser cut designs, and some are customized artistic pieces that resemble the couple and their pets.

Set Up a Treat Bar

This one is just for the dogs or cats...or both! Set up a small station where guests can fill a bag or box with treats to take home to their own fur babies. You might also want to put a sign that says something like, “These treats are for dogs only!” just so guests don’t think you’ve set up some kind of strange dessert bar and bite into a meat-flavored biscuit.

Treats for Humans

Your guests can enjoy treats as well, like cookies shaped like your pet’s silhouette or a cake that resembles your dog. There are plenty of talented dessert designers who can create sweets to honor your two and four legged friends.

Black and white photo of a table with a glass bowl of favors and a white framed photo of a dog, small girl, and father standing together.  Photograph by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

Decorate With Photos

One of the simplest ways to include and honor your pets at the wedding is to use photos of them as decor. This could be individual photos of the pet or family photos. Place them on the guestbook table, use them as table numbers or escort cards, or hang photos and use as a backdrop for the treat bar/dessert table.

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Include Them in the Program

Shout out to your furry, feathered, or scaly friends with a section dedicated to them in the program. Label it something like, “Pets of Honor” and display the names and photos of those celebrating from home.

In Lieu of Favors

A sweet way to honor your pets at your wedding is to let guests know that in lieu of favors or gifts you would like them to donate to an animal shelter or charity. If you would rather guests donate than buy a wedding gift, let them know on the invitation. If you would like to donate to a charity or shelter instead of sending guests home with favors, make your intentions clear by placing a note at each place setting, a sign at each table, or a larger sign (perhaps with your pet’s photo on it) near a populated area (like the cake table).

Pets are like family members, so why not honor them during one of the best days of your life? And besides, who doesn’t love looking at cute animal photos?

Related: The Perfect Gifts for Your Wedding Guests

Still not sure how to include your beloved pet in your wedding? As a wedding photographer, and a pet lover, I have some great ideas!

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