Fur-real? Your Beloved Pet Can Be an Official Wedding Witness in these US States!

November 20, 2023
3 min

When preparing for a wedding, couples often think of creative ways to include their beloved pets in the festivities. Some opt for personalized details, such as naming signature cocktails after their furry companions or featuring their photos on custom napkins. Pets are welcome during the ceremony, but the idea of being ring bearers or official witnesses enhances the concept of pet inclusion for those who are lucky enough to have very well-behaved pets.

A pressing question on the minds of many couples is: Can a dog or a cat serve as a witness at a wedding? This is not only a sentimental gesture, though, as it has legal significance in several U.S. states. Pets can legally take on this role because marriage laws in some states only require one witness, or in some situations, none at all. In these places, your pet, whether it be a dog, cat, or even a hamster or rabbit, may be named as a legitimate witness on your marriage certificate.

couple getting married and their pet cat

In Colorado, for instance, it is legally permissible for your pet to act as a witness and leave a paw print on your wedding license. Colorado is among the 23 states in the U.S. that don't mandate human witnesses for weddings. This means your pet can be the sole witness, or you can have a combination of canine and human witnesses. To ensure your pet fulfils this role, it's essential that they are well-behaved and can maintain composure during the ceremony. 

Additionally, having a clean paw print pad and an inkless pen on hand allows your dog to sign the marriage license. While this may seem like a recent development, the allowance for pets to serve as witnesses at weddings in the United States has been in existence for several decades.

States Where Your Pet Can Act as Your Wedding Witness

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Washington, D.C.
three dogs with the groom

States That Allow Your Pet to Serve as Your Wedding Officiant

  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Nevada
  • Pennsylvania
  • Wisconsin
  • Washington, D.C.

Ways to Include Your Pet in Your Wedding

bride and groom with two dogs

Include Them in Family Photos

Capture meaningful moments with your pet in family portraits, highlighting them as an important part of your big day. This highlights their significance in your life and makes for lasting memories.

Dress Them up for the Occasion

Choose a stylish outfit or accessories that match your wedding theme for your pet. Whether it's a bowtie, flower crown, or a custom-made outfit, dressing them up adds a fun and adorable touch to your celebration.

Have them Stand at the Altar

Include your pet in the wedding ceremony by having them stand with you at the altar. This can be especially heartwarming and symbolic, signifying their importance in your union.

Have a Non-traditional Ring Bearer

Make your pet a non-traditional ring carrier by attaching the rings to their collar or using artistic alternatives such as a fancy cushion or purse. This gives your ring swap ceremony a special, customized touch.

Couple getting married via Zoom with pet as witness

Consider an Online Wedding at Home

Sadly, not all wedding venues allow pets. The best part about having an online wedding in your home is that you can control everything. Your pets can easily join in on the fun, no matter where you live. With Courtly, your online wedding becomes a delightful and memorable experience, allowing you to infuse your celebration with personality and charm. Whether it's including your pets, connecting with loved ones globally, or creating a virtual space that reflects your vision, Courtly empowers you to make your at-home wedding truly special.

Let us handle the paperwork.

Getting married is complicated. Courtly simplifies the process and provides everything necessary to get married online, including providing a licensed officiant who can perform a remote ceremony.

Get Married