The ultimate guide to dogs & weddings

9 August 2023 - 4 min read
A bride and a groom in their wedding finery crouch in a wide open field - with their two dogs in front of them.

Whether attending as a guest or preparing for your own special day, an increasing number of people are seeking ways to include dogs in weddings.

To address this, we conducted a survey of 1,000 pet parents to gauge what people felt about the concept of "wed-dog" celebrations.

The findings were fascinating: 84% of partnered Brits consider their pets vital to their relationships.

This leads us to wonder: if they're so important to our relationships, why not involve our beloved four-legged companions in wedding festivities?

Unsurprisingly, those walking down the aisle want to be accompanied by man’s best friend, with a whopping 8 in 10 Brits now wanting their dog to attend their wedding.

Of those wanting their dog in attendance, a further 71% would get their dog involved in the ceremony, with ring bearer (44%), the most popular role, followed by dog of honour (35%), and flower dog (34%).

The survey also revealed that two-thirds of respondents want their dog to walk down the aisle beside them.

Research also found that one third of dog owners would even RSVP ‘no’ to a wedding if their dog wasn’t allowed, and 4 in 10 would even consider calling off their own wedding should their partner refuse to let their dog attend!

The desire for Brits to have their beloved pooches around on their special day even means some of their nearest and dearest would get the boot, with 79% stating that they would prefer to have their dog in attendance over friends and family.

Well, that's certainly taking "it's me or the dog" to a brand new level!

However, even though 70% of those polled would bring their dog to someone else’s wedding, many have anxieties around the idea, with 47% stating they would be worried that their dog wouldn’t sit still, and a further quarter concerned that they would be too noisy.

Top tips to include dogs in your wedding

To set pooches and owners up for success throughout wedding season, we chatted with Sarah Ellen Tranter, who is both a qualified Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN) and a Veterinary Relationship Managerhereat ManyPets.

Sarah is uniquely positioned to give advice on this, as she included her dog Ava as part of her own special day. Sarah stopped by to share her top tips to help dog owners have a stress-free day of celebration.

A bride and groom in their wedding finery walk their dog through shallow water on a beautiful, sunny day

Schedule your toilet trips

Toilet troubles can be a bit tricky when it comes to pets. Imagine the nightmare of walking down the aisle with your dog when nature decides to call!

"Whilst this can’t be avoided entirely, minimise the chances by scheduling at least three toilet trips," advises Sarah. "Two staggered right before the ceremony and one right after."

"If you’re the one getting married, it’s worth getting a trusted friend to take on this role—you can’t exactly be running out halfway through for a bathroom trip!"

Don’t forget the treats

Pack your pet's favourite snacks to be prepped and ready to reward good behaviour. If you're walking down the aisle with them, it’s a good idea to have a few in your pocket, ready to pull their attention away from any surrounding distractions.

"To help keep them still whilst sitting, try stuffing a longer treat like a bone up your sleeve—the smell will hold your dog's attention for hours!"

Watch out for flowers

"One of the best parts of weddings is the beautiful flower arrangements, but be careful—some plants can be toxic to dogs," warns Sarah.

Tulips, daffodils, and rhododendrons are some of the worst culprits when it comes to toxicity, causing intestinal upset, vomiting, and, in the worst cases, paralysis.

"It’s best to keep an eye on your pooch throughout the day, and consider having them on a lead if they’re in a space that has lots of floral arrangements around."

"In particular, watch out for brides and bridesmaids bouquets being left on seats, as these are at perfect nibble height for pups."

Keep things cool

With peak wedding season falling in the middle of summer, your big day may well be a scorcher.

A key thing to remember is that dogs can’t cool down in the same way humans can, which puts them at a greater risk of overheating.

"When choosing your venue, try to opt for somewhere with good ventilation or air conditioning," says Sarah.

Alternatively, if you’re having the ceremony outside, make sure there’s a well-shaded area that your pooch can sit in, and consider getting married a little later on in the day so that the sun isn’t as strong.

Get friendly 

Some dogs struggle with stranger danger, so if your dog will be interacting with new people during the ceremony (like being walked down the aisle by a groomsman or bridesmaid), it’s best to get them well-acquainted prior to the big day.

"Get them to go for walks, throw a ball around, and give them a few treats to build a positive relationship so that your pup sees their handler as a familiar face by the time the big day rolls around."

Test the waters

"If your dog hasn’t been to any big events before, it’s possible that they could become overwhelmed by the number of people at your wedding, which can make them distressed," Sarah adds.

"A top tip is to test the waters and get your dog used to bigger gatherings—try taking them to a busy park, a town centre, or even bring them along to a church ceremony!"

If they repeatedly get spooked by bigger groups after continued exposure, then it might be wise to keep them off the invite list. You don’t want to add a distressed dog to your list of worries on your big day!

Lewis Martins
Communities marketer

Lewis has worked in pet health since 2017. Before joining ManyPets in 2021, he led content production at VetForum and PetsApp. Lewis has collaborated with some of the world’s biggest vet groups and suppliers to write educational articles for vets and pet parents. His Instagram feed is 60% dogs, 40% cats.