Friday, 2 March 2012

Why my dog will take pride of place at my wedding

My pet pug is part of the family. Is it really so crazy to want him to join me and my husband-to-be as we walk up the aisle?

'While I’m still not sure of the dog’s role in my own proceedings, I’m leaning heavily towards ringbearer.' Photograph: Susan Ragan/Associated Press

The paper that brought us scoops such as the Pentagon Papers has given us a new exclusive. According to the New York Times, there is a growing trend at weddings to have your pet as a special guest. While most of us wouldn't go as far as to have a chicken in place of a bouquet, as one delightfully eccentric interviewee did, it seems surprising in this age of extravagant weddings that more of our furry friends don't take pride of place in wedding festivities.

The British have long been known the world over as a nation full of ridiculously soppy pet owners. Early evidence of this comes in the form of a poignant pet cemetery in Hyde Park, which sprung up in 1881. If the Victorians went to such great lengths to ensure their dogs would meet them in heaven when they passed on, why shouldn't you tuck a chicken under your arm as you embark on what is commonly billed "the happiest day of your life"?

As usual, when it comes to the faintly ridiculous, the UK is taking its cue from America. Over there, a whole industry has sprung up around ensuring little Fido looks his best for your big day. Where else would you go for a couture doggie tuxedo but a website offering "luxury formal wear for pets"?

As I prepare to enter the world of extravagant wedding planning (average wedding costs have hit £21,000 – do you know how many cats you could get for that?), I have no idea what to wear, how to entertain guests, or whether to drunkenly sing Stand By Your Man as people slowly back away. I do know, however, that my own pet (he's a dog, but a chicken bouquet has got my brain heavily whirring) will be hugely involved.
One of the couples interviewed by the NYT explained why their dog would be accompanying them up the aisle: "He's part of the family, so there was never any question." Call me insane, but this sounds like a perfectly valid argument. A partner's initial reaction to your pet is surely one of the biggest hurdles to overcome in a new relationship. A fellow allergic to dogs, or a man who preferred the company of cats could surely not stick by my side through thick and thin. No wonder, then, that the couples who sail this challenge victoriously are so eager to publicise it.

While I'm still not sure of the dog's role in my own proceedings, I'm leaning heavily towards ringbearer. I've fed him a lifetime of treats, why shouldn't he do a proper job for a day? I've told him it's that or workfare. Embarrassing the vicar, and possibly my family with a pet guest still certainly sounds better than the role animals had in weddings as described in the Bible:
"The blood covenant began with the sacrifice of animals. After splitting them precisely in half, the animal halves were arranged opposite each other on the ground, leaving a pathway between them. The two parties making the covenant would walk from either end of the path, meeting in the middle." Genesis 15:9-1
Since I want happy memories of the day, my beloved and I have decided not to dismember the family dog in front of the congregation. Instead, he'll be in all the photos, entertain small children and hopefully bite the ankles of pesky relatives who refuse to leave when the party winds up. You may be twinning your life with another, but as the old saying goes:

"Acquiring a dog may be the only time a person gets to choose a relative."

Article by  for The Guardian

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