94% of dog owners getting married want to involve their pets

gold retriever laying on floor with a flower crown round its neck On the biggest day of their lives, 94% of dog owners planning a wedding for this year revealed they 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 (213% increase).

The new research by charity Guide Dogs shows that the wedding roles dogs can expect to play over the next 12 months will vary. The most common roles were however found to be starring in the first dance (42%), walking a bride down the aisle (39%), being the Dog of Honour or Best Man (37%) or taking ringbearer responsibilities (30%). 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.

bride kneeling down with her guide dog 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 has changed in recent years; wanting to include pets in weddings as they are now less religious (35%), less formal (31%) and more individual (29%).

And while the main motivation is dog owners counting their pup as a part of their family (50%), a third (32%) admit it's to capture cute content for social media.

To make a dog-friendly wedding a walk in the park, Guide Dogs' Good Dog programme offers expert advice and training and wellbeing tips to support your dog through all aspects of life, all subscriptions supporting the life-changing work done by the charity.

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."

Guide Dogs has also shared top tips for how to make pups feel most comfortable at weddings this summer:

  1. 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 a few quiet photographs for with the bride and groom is a good option.
  2. 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!
  3. You want your dog to look dapper but choose simple accessories like bow ties and lacey collars so your dog can move freely.
  4. Watch out for wedding cake, particularly if you picked a creamy chocolate or fruitcake variety. You definitely don't want to spend your wedding night at the emergency vets.
  5. Practice, practice, practice your positive reinforcement training so your Best Dog or furry flower girl can nail their role, and enjoy doing it too!

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