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More people including four-legged friends in walk down the aisle

Pets are becoming an increasingly popular inclusion at weddings as people insist their four-legged friends be a part of their big day. (AP image)

Wedding season is in full swing around here. And given the way people pamper their pets these days, it should come as no surprise a lot more are taking their four-legged friends for a walk on the big day, right down the aisle with them.

Jason Verlinde is one of them. When he and his fiancee tied the knot, their two dogs were alongside.

“We were without children and our dogs were really our family,” Verlinde told It’s Raining Cats and Dogs.

You have to wonder if it was worth it. Verlande and his fiancee had moved from Washington to California before the wedding in La Conner. So while she flew up for the wedding, he was stuck in a hot car with his slobbering greyhound and Bernese mountain dog making the three-day drive.

At the ceremony itself, the big Bernese, enlisted as a ring bearer, dragged an unsuspecting nephew down the aisle. In the end, Verlande insists it made the day complete.

“I had bonded with my dog before I met my wife. He was with me through that whole process of courtship and dating and engagement. And it just seemed like the right thing to do.”

It might sound like a bit much, but not for the hardcore pet lovers out there. Wedding planner Tamara Nicole says about 10 percent of her ceremonies now include pets.

They’re not always the best guests. Some dogs have been known to leave an errant paw print on a bride’s precious dress. Others bark or whine. Some simply sulk and won’t cooperate. And you have to wonder if at least a few feel just a bit demeaned by the obligatory doggie tux or frilly dress.

It can be a game. One couple trying to figure out how to get their dog to go along ended up just tying the rings to a stick and putting it in his mouth. The dog loves to play fetch and brought it right up to the alter without incident.

Not only are dogs getting invited to the big day. Host Shawn Stewart says she’s heard from one couple who plans to have her flower girls walk their two cats down the aisle. And there are plenty of stories of just about every other kind of animal being included, including owls.

Ultimately, it might sound a bit absurd to those not quite as obsessed with their pets. But Stewart argues it makes perfect to sense to include your VIP’s at perhaps the biggest day of your life – very important pets.

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