Running a wedding venue means being asked a lot of questions, oftentimes more than once. And one of the most popular questions I was asked was if the couple could have their pet at the wedding. And that's a pretty common question, especially since you could be running an outdoor venue or a rural venue and it seems like it's a natural fit to be able to let animals included out there. Most people assume, especially if you're on a farm, you've already got the animals out there so what's the problem with just one more. Now, I personally think that it's a good policy to have but it doesn't come without thinking about a few key things. But I'm going to tell you first some of the reasons that I think that you should let couples include pets in their wedding.
Pets are an important part of people's lives.
Weddings are often about making memories and having your loved ones around you on the happiest day of your life. For many people, these emotions happen even more powerfully with our furry friends by our side! And you have to remember that not all couples will have children and so their pets are very much a part of their family. Finally, since our four-legged friends don't live as long as their human companions, having the memories of them at the wedding in photos and video is priceless.
Dressed-Up Animals are fun.
I know this doesn't seem like a solid business decision for choosing to allow pets but come on - admit it - it is really cute seeing dogs with bow ties or flower crowns. And if you're not the kind of person who smiles when they think about that, then maybe you don't have what it takes to own a wedding venue. (Just kidding.)(Maybe.)
Great marketing advantage for the venue.
Many venues don't allow pets or animals at all so when you circle back to reason #1 a couple of paragraphs back, you can see why saying "Yes to the Pet" will score you big points. In fact, some couples will search for venues on this factor alone and if you make the short-list of pet-friendly wedding venues, the word will get out. Oh, and those cute dressed-up furry ring bearers or "flower dogs" - their photos make the rounds on social media, and your venue will get tagged in the pictures.
Okay, it's not all wet noses and snuggles when deciding to allow your couples to include their pets. There are some major downsides to think about too.
That's it. Doesn't need to be explained. Your couples are likely going to clean up after their pet. But sometimes they miss a pile and you get to make sure it's long gone before the next event.
No worse than drunk guests or unsupervised children. so this is a "light" downside.
In the book, I talk about understanding your risks. So make sure you talk to your agent about coverage in case a guest is bitten by a guest pet. And if you have pets, make sure you know what would happen if your dog bites a wedding guest.
Also - sometimes you might experiences aggression from your guest pet to your own pets or farm animals.
Other Things The Couple Has to Consider
Now, if you say "Yes to the Pet," here are some other things that you want to remind the couples to also consider when including their fur-baby on their big day.
Do they have to get permission from any of the other wedding vendors too? Caterers, DJs, wedding planners - make sure they don't have any policies around no-pets.
Will they notify their guests ahead of time so that anyone who needs to know does and can plan on bringing allergy medicine or whatever if needed.
Do they know if anyone on the guest has any traumas or fears of animals that might be triggered by their pet being there? If so, is there a plan for a conversation and how to handle it underway?
They make it clear no one else is allowed to bring animals. You might even help them communicate this message by giving them a "threat from the venue" to use when talking to the friend they know is going to want to bring their Pomeranian with them as their +1. I would suggest something like, "The Venue will take our damage deposit if anyone brings their animals to the venue so please leave Mrs. Fluffybottoms at home."
Final steps for the Venue:
Will you charge an extra fee or deposit for the pet? If so, how will you calculate it? Size? Breed?
Will require leashes or crates during the reception and set-up period?
Will you restrict the pet's access to certain areas only and away from others (like keeping them out of the changing rooms to keep carpet/furnishings from being soiled or damaged.
It's clear that pets are a big part of people's lives and can be a great marketing advantage for your venue. But, there is always the risk they could do damage to property or guests if not properly supervised. I hope these tips help guide you as you consider whether it would work well for both sides when couples want to include their pet(s). There are many things to keep in mind, but I'm positive that this addition to your venue features will make any occasion more memorable!