LEWISTON — Andrew Knight never questioned whether his dog, Penny Lane, should be part of his wedding. The answer was obvious.

“I said (to my fiancee), ‘Oh, you know what, we should have Penny in the wedding,’ and she just instantly said, ‘Well, yeah, of course.'”

So last May, Penny, wearing a little dress, snuggled in Knight’s arms as he and Annie Allen walked down the aisle at the Agora Grand Event Center in Lewiston. The 5-year-old Maltese left Knight only to go to his sister during the ceremony — where the wedding photographer captured the dog, relaxed and yawning widely, as Knight read his vows.

“I think it was important for us to become a family,” Knight said. “My little puppy’s my daughter.”

A few decades ago, such a thing would have been unheard of. Today, pet-inclusive weddings are almost routine.

“I probably have about one, anyway, every year with a dog — usually it’s a dog,” said Auburn photographer Rene Roy, who caught Penny mid-yawn at Knight’s wedding. “You can’t really involve a cat.”

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Pets-in-weddings has become so popular that a number of wedding guides and magazines — including Martha Stewart Weddings, BridalGuide.com and Brides.com — have focused on it. (And Pinterest would beg to differ that cats can’t get in on the fun.)

For Knight, Penny’s place in the wedding was a natural progression. She had, after all, helped him propose to his then-girlfriend in a kind of doggy ambush on a beach just outside Washington, D.C., in 2015.

“(Penny) ran right up to her,” Knight said. “Finally, she looked at her collar and there was a little pouch, and inside the pouch was a note and a ring. And the note was from Penny asking her to be her mommy.”

Allen burst into tears and said yes.

The couple had considered making Penny a ring bearer or giving her another wedding job, but Knight thought she might get too distracted. He knew from experience, though, that she would do well being held.

“I taught college math for a while and one time I had her with me and had to bring her to class,” Knight said. “For a 50-minute lecture, I just held her in my arms. She just laid there the whole time. When she’s in my arms, she’s very relaxed.”

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Relaxed she was. Penny lasted the whole ceremony — in front of 130 guests — and through a round of photographs without a fuss. During the cocktail hour, family members took turns sitting with her or letting her run around on the dance floor.

Guests didn’t seem to mind an extra member in the wedding party.

“I think they loved it,” Knight said. “It was a very personal ceremony.”

It was that personal touch that meant a lot to the couple, too.

“The wedding was the formal unioning between me and my fiancée and it was what made us a family,” Knight said. “That Penny was there — we’re a family now.”

Have an idea for Tying the Knot? Contact Lindsay Tice at 689-2854 or [email protected].

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Want a furry family member in your wedding? Here are some tips:

• Make sure the venue is pet friendly before you show up with Fido.

• Get your pet used to any new experiences beforehand. Will Fluffy have to wear a tiny tux? Do you want Max to walk down the aisle with the flower girl and carry a basket of petals in his mouth? Work on it before your big day. 

• Have realistic expectations. If your untrained puppy can’t sit still for five minutes at home, she’s not going to sit quietly for a 20-minute ceremony in a strange place filled with people.  

• Give your pet a lot of exercise beforehand. A tired dog/cat/horse/goat is a good one.

• Designate a pet sitter for before, during and after the ceremony. That person should be known to your pet and willing to take on the job.

• Consider having your pet involved in only one part of the ceremony and then sending her home afterward. Your cat loves you, but he might not love the band, fireworks and small children running around during the reception.


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