A dog ring bearer? A bride and groom on horseback?

More and more couples are involving animals in their weddings.

Well-behaved dogs can make wonderful ringbearers, and so can owls. (Don’t believe me? Read this.) Heck, one reader wrote to tell me she’s using her hamster as a ringbearer!

Even horses can play a role. A few years ago I interviewed a couple who surprised their guests by making their grand entrance on horseback.

“The guests were shocked. We kept it all a big secret,” says Sandra.

Visions of Camelot surely danced through their guests’ heads, as they watched David, in full dressage, enter the arena on the back of a gorgeous black gelding. When his beaming bride followed, riding sidesaddle on a gentle Arabian mare, a hush fell over the audience.

Without as much as a nay from the horses, the couple calmly said their vows, making official, their status as husband and wife.

Sandra and David decided to get married on horseback for obvious reasons: they both love horses and they both enjoy equestrian riding.

Deanne and Andy also involved a four-legged friend on their big day: their beloved Staffordshire bull terrier, Scotch, was ring bearer.

With a ring-filled satchel tied around her collar, the good natured canine was led by leash to the altar, where she patiently waited for her cue.

“She was really good. She just sat there, and watched what was going on,” says Deanne, a veterinary assistant.

When the time came to offer up the rings, the groom’s best man knelt to retrieve the rings from Scotch, who obliged without even a bark.

“It worked out great,” says Deanne. “She just looked at everybody and wagged her tail all excited.”

Gloria Steacy, an ordained minister and owner of Royal Wedding Gardens & Chapel in LaSalle, says she’s married several couples who have had their pets involved in the wedding. Steacy recalls a wedding ceremony where ten Labrador retrievers were in attendance.

Steacy explains that the dogs, which were all from the same litter and owned by various members of the bride and groom’s family, sat quietly together near the altar as the couple said their vows.

“There were all these dogs sitting there all prim and proper. They just sat there like they had been trained to do that forever,” she says.

Steacy says she has also conducted weddings that have included other cherished pets, including cats.

She recalls a medieval theme wedding where the bride and groom’s two cats sat in cages near the altar during the ceremony.

Do you plan on involving pets in your wedding?