On the biggest day of their lives, dog owners planning their wedding for this year have revealed they intend to give their dog a starring role in the celebrations.

Lizzie and her dog Ziggy at her wedding in September 2019

Lizzie and her dog Ziggy at her wedding in September 2019

This shows a new trend for this year, with an increase of almost 40% since pre-Covid and reaching more than three times the level of 30 years ago. 

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 found to be starring in the first dance, closely followed by walking a bride down the aisle, being the Dog of Honour or Best Man, or the ringbearer responsibilities.

The popularity continues as over half 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 a third claiming their wedding wouldn’t feel complete without their four-legged friend in attendance.

As a result, over a third saying they would only consider a venue if it was dog-friendly, which a huge jump in numbers when compared with the 1990's with only one in ten people taking that point of view.

To make sure their pups don't feel under dressed for the occasion half of the owners will have dogs will be smartly attired specially for the occasion - ‘dressed to the ca-nines’ in flower crowns or bow ties or similar.

Many will be styled with a specific grooming style to match too, with one five suggesting they would be happy to spend up to £100 on grooming for the big day. 

Why this trend is increasing?  Many 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, less formal, and more individual.

And while the main motivation is that half of dog owners count their pup as a part of their family, and a third admitting, it was 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!

If you want to include you pup in your wedding day you most certainly won't be on your own check some of these stats:

  • 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% opting for their dog to walk them down the aisle, 37% appointing their dog as Dog of Honour or Best Man and 30% assigning them the role of ringbearer
  • The new trend follows a changing attitude to dogs, with three times as many dog owners including their pup 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, which offers expert training to give dog owners one less thing to worry about on their big day

About Guide Dogs  

Guide Dogs is here to help the two million people living with sight loss live the life they choose. Children and adults. Friends and family. Our expert staff, volunteers and life-changing dogs are here to help people affected by sight loss live actively, independently, and well. Founded in 1934, following our first partnerships in 1931, we are a charity that is almost entirely dependent on donations. Find out more at www.guidedogs.org.uk 

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