For Briana Schaefer, including her beloved dog Norah in her wedding was a no-brainer.
“Norah is just part of the family. A lot of people include their kids or their relatives and, to me, it’s the same thing,” Schaefer, 30, tells PEOPLE. “She’s my family and if I was lucky enough to find a venue that allowed animals, I was going to find a way to include her.”
Schaefer and her now-husband Kevin, 30, wed on Nov. 4 at Stan Mansion in Chicago surrounded by friends and family. Norah, a 4-year-old golden retriever, walked down the aisle with another little flower girl. The pooch wore a necklace of flowers around her neck.
“It was very cute. I was lucky enough that my friend’s mom offered to make the flower necklace and it was this beautiful handmade ” Schaefer says. “It looked beautiful. Norah fit right in with the bridal party.”
Many of the wedding guests expected Norah to make an appearance at the wedding, as she and Schaefer are inseparable. The newlywed says she’s had Norah since she was just a puppy.
“People close to me know how much I love Norah and they know that she goes everywhere with me, so a lot of people already asked me if she was going to be in the wedding — they figured she would be,” Schaefer tells PEOPLE. “They know how I am so a lot of people, they were just anticipating it and they thought it was adorable.”
She adds: “And for those that didn’t know, it was just a cute surprise.”
As for her husband, Schaefer says Kevin expected nothing less from his dog-loving wife, and was happy to include Norah in their nuptials.
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Other photos from the event showed the new bride posing alongside Norah — the therapy dog sat quiet in the shots. At the wedding, Scaefer even honored her late pup, Tandi, who died before the couple got Norah.
“My maid of honor, Alex Lister, surprised me by putting a small photo of Tandi on my bouquet,” Schaefer told ABC News. “I, of course, immediately burst into tears as she said, ‘This way you can have both your dogs with you on your wedding day.’ ”
Norah has been with the couple for plenty milestones, including their proposal. But Schaefer told ABC that Kevin insisted they go on their Asheville, North Carolina, without the pooch to have some alone time.