New research has shown that owners want their furry friends to be with them on their big day, their wedding day.
A stroll through the city and you’ll spot plenty of owners with their dogs, glued to their side and after the pandemic, is it any surprise that owners are feeling closer to their pets?
The majority (56%) of dog owners getting married within the next year revealed that their dog would be a priority when planning a wedding, with 39% going as far as opting for their dog to walk them down the aisle, 37% appointing their dog as Dog of Honor or Best Man and 30% assigning them the role of ringbearer.
That’s a lot of responsibility for a dog. But, the new trend follows a changing attitude to dogs, with three times as many dog owners including their pups in their weddings this year than would 30 years ago and 39% more than the year before the Covid pandemic.
Research commissioned by charity and canine specialists Guide Dogs to celebrate their Good Dog programme, found that on the biggest day of their lives, 94% of dog owners planning a wedding for this year will give their dog a starring role in the celebrations.
This shows a new trend for this year, increasing by more than a third (39%) since pre-Covid and reaching more than three times the level of 30 years ago (a 213% increase).
As well as starring in the nuptials, more than half (58%) of paw-rents due to get married within the next year say they would make changes to their dream wedding to accommodate their dog, with 33% claiming their wedding wouldn’t feel complete without their four-legged friend in attendance.
As a result, over a third (35%) said they would only consider a venue if it was dog-friendly, compared to just 11% of people planning a wedding 30 years ago.
Almost half (49%) of the dogs will be dressed smartly for the occasion too; ‘dressed to the ca-nines’ in flower crowns (42%) or bow ties or similar (33%). 71% will be styled with a specific grooming style to match too, with one five (21%) suggesting they would be happy to spend up to £100 on grooming for the big day.
The research looked into why this trend is increasing. 47% of dog owners surveyed claimed their views on dogs and weddings have changed in recent years; wanting to include pets in weddings as they are now less religious (35%), less formal (31%) and more individual (29%).
So what’s the main motivation? Well mostly, dog owners want to count their pups as a part of their family (50%), but a third (32%) admit it’s to capture cute content for social media.
Tim Stafford, Director of Canine Affairs at Guide Dogs, said: “It’s moving to see so many dog owners wanting to share such a major life event with their canine companions. It is a testament to the important role they play in our lives and the close bond we have with them, and even more so for guide dog owners. If couples think carefully about ensuring their dogs are comfortable and well looked after during their big day most dogs will happily join in with the celebrations – even if they may snore through the service and speeches!
“When guide dogs are matched with someone with sight loss, they form a truly life-changing partnership and invaluable companionship, and it’s important to be able to share these moments with them,” he added.
Guide Dogs has also shared top tips for how to make pups feel most comfortable at weddings:
- Think about what your dog is happy with – you might have one who’s super confident in crowds and loves all the attention, but some dogs may find the hustle and bustle of a wedding stressful. Coming in for just a few quiet photographs with the bride and groom is a good option.
- Have someone on hand to look after your dog so you don’t miss anything, whether that’s a trusted pet sitter taking them home after the ceremony, or a dog-loving friend happy to hold the lead at dinner. It’s your big day after all!
- You want your dog to look dapper but choose simple accessories like bow ties and lacey collars so your dog can move freely.
- Watch out for wedding cake, particularly if you pick a creamy chocolate or fruitcake variety as these can make dogs sick if they accidentally get a bite. You definitely don’t want to spend your wedding night at the emergency vets.
- Practice, practice, practice your positive reinforcement training so your Best Dog or furry flower girl can nail their role, and enjoy doing it too!