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How Modern Rebel Includes Pets In Millennial Weddings

Wedding planner Amy Shack Egan shares tips and tricks for getting your pup down the aisle.

by Avery Felman
June 21, 2022
A bride and groom kneeling on their backyard lawn petting their happy dog
@hannahjanphoto / Instagram

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Modern weddings call to mind wildflower bouquets, craft cocktails, and Earth, Wind & Fire dance parties — all that idyllic imagery of which can be either enhanced or quashed by a drooling, ring-bearing dog. A couple of years ago, Wedding Wire surveyed 800 married pet parents, and 38 percent said they included their pet in their wedding and/or engagement. So, it’s a thing. If you’re currently affianced (congrats!) and wondering how to incorporate your pup into your nuptials, read on because The Wildest turned to the pros: As their name suggests, the wedding planners at Modern Rebel are all about rewriting the rules and celebrating cool, inclusive, nonconformist couples — and their pets, naturally. Below, founder Amy Shack Egan on the dog-specific dos and don’ts on your special day (spoiler: do not tie the rings your dog’s collar).

What would you say is Modern Rebel’s mission? What do you see your role being in a ceremony as intimate as a wedding?

Modern Rebel has been in business for the last seven years and has really carved out a space within the wedding industry as an opportunity for couples to feel not only empowered, but celebrated for rewriting rules to weddings. That might be reimagining traditions, doing something completely off the wall, or something just a little bit different, but the whole goal in our process is that — we like to call it a “love party” — the “love party” reflects the real highlight, which is the relationship. 

A lot of planners you might talk to or know of, the idea is that planner’s style is this. You might think of Tutera or some famous wedding planner; that’s their style. Well, our style is “who’s the couple?” The idea is that people walk into our events and they see that the couple is really highlighted and celebrated, both in their individual style and partnership. That’s always our goal and that just means that we get to work with really awesome, cool couples — and a lot of them incorporate their pets into the event.

How would you recommend incorporating pets into weddings?

Honestly, we’ve been lucky to have many pets in many weddings. I would say the first thing is: do you want the pet at the actual event? If the answer to that is yes, then you need to be considerate of that in the venue search, because some venues just straight up won’t allow it and other venues are totally cool with it. If you want the pet at the event, that’s one way to incorporate them. 

When I’ve done that in the past, it’s important to think about (and this is why a planner’s helpful) the logistics around that. It’s a very different environment to have a pet with 150 of your closest family and friends all excited to see them in a tuxedo than it is to just be on your couch hanging out with your dog. You need to think about how that might be stressful for the animal.

100%. What else?

Also, make sure you have a vendor. We have vendors who are used to picking up dogs from events and making sure that pet is going to feel comfortable. I think it’s important to hire that person to handle the animal if they’re coming offsite because you, yourself, getting married, it’s just another thing you have to do. You want to be a guest at your event; you don’t want to be dog mom. So, that’s one way to incorporate [your pet]. I would say that’s the heaviest lift.

Then, there are the details. I’ve had couples put their pets on cocktail napkins, incorporate photos of their pets into their events, and name a specialty cocktail after their dog or cat. I had one couple — they have a dog named Pumba who has his own Instagram and he is a fluffy…what’s that kind of dog that looks like a lion?

Chow Chow?

Yes! Such a sweetie. His name is Pumba, so they incorporated a Lion King sing-along into their wedding, which is so fun. They also had Pumba on cocktail napkins. He is a very big part of their life, so they had to make sure Pumba was highlighted — and he did wear a tux.

Those are the major ways. Then, of course, there are smaller ways. Sometimes pets can be such a source of comfort in what can be an anxious event. Whenever you’re being highlighted or spotlit, there’s a lot of attention on you, so a lot of times people will choose to get ready at home and make sure that their animals are nearby and that feels like the right way to incorporate them.

Would you say that it’s more dogs than cats that are at the physical events?

I’ve never seen a cat — oh god, that would be stressful! I’ve only seen dogs. I have a couple who have rabbits, but they didn’t come to the event.

Is it a common request that you receive?

We do about 60 to 70 events every year. It’s not a majority or anything, but it’s always memorable when it happens. I’d say maybe about 15 or 20 of those people have included their animals in some way.

Are there any major nos to including a pet in a wedding?

Don’t give them an actual ring. If they’re going to be the ring bearer, don’t tie the ring on them. I know that sounds cute, but then the dog is scratching themself, the ring falls off somewhere, and we’ve lost it. This hasn’t happened to me, but it’s in my nightmares.

Any funny moments from past events that you can share?

I had one of my couples’ dogs be a greeter at the front. He wasn’t allowed to come in, but I have to tell you that was the best way ever for guests to arrive. That was the perfect amount of interaction. He got all of the love, people got into the space, and then he didn’t stay for the ceremony because he wasn’t allowed to come in. You think the best thing would be that you can get a drink when you arrive? No. You get to pet the happy cute dog when you arrive.

Avery, editor at The Wildest, and her cat, Chicken

Avery Felman

Avery is an editor at The Wildest. She has written for numerous publications, including Refinery29, BuzzFeed, and V Magazine. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her boyfriend and cat, Chicken, and has high hopes that one of them will let her adopt a dog.