LIFESTYLE – ‘I do’ bring pets to the big day

– New research reveals one in 10 Brits give their beloved pets a central role on their wedding day –

Getting married is one of the most life-changing moments people experience, so it stands to reason that people choose to spend it with their nearest and dearest. But many Brits will have noticed a subtle change in the wedding pictures peppering their social feeds of late: alongside the bonny brides and gorgeous grooms are esteemed guests of a furrier variety. In fact, new research conducted this wedding season by national pet charity Blue Cross has today revealed that as many as one in 10 Brits* have given pets a central role in their wedding ceremony.

When asked why, over a quarter (26%) said they did so because it helps them remain calm and overcome anxiety on the big day. Brits also said they involved their pets because they are such an important part of the family (20%) and some said they had to come along simply because they are so cute (12%).

Although we might have become accustomed to the sight of animals making a cameo at wedding ceremonies, the study actually shows that pets are taking on a much more expanded role. In fact when asked what important role their pets would be playing on the big day, a massive 92% of those in favour of pets’ involvement said they wanted to walk down the aisle with their pet as maid of honour. Over half wanted their pets to have a starring role in wedding photos and video (56%) and, although their dinner speeches may leave a lot to be desired, they’re clearly doing something right as a close third came best man (54%).

 Ryan Neile, Senior Animal Behaviourist from Blue Cross commented on the results: “Whether they are, companions, our best friends, or our comforters, pets play a huge role in our lives and it isn’t surprising to see how many Brits want to involve them in such an important moment. Even without weather worries, dress disasters, late caterers or missing rings to worry about, your wedding day can be an incredibly nerve-wracking experience and having your pet by your side might just help settle some of those jitters, as long as you take steps to ensure that your pet is comfortable too.”

“At Blue Cross we recognise that every pet we receive, rescue, rehabilitate and rehome is a pet that can enrich its new family’s life in return. Pets are just as much as part of the family as mums, dads and siblings and this is why Brits love them to be involved in important events like this.”

When Katia and her husband John got married on Valentine’s Day two years ago, their beautiful English springer spaniel cross Bingo, who was rehomed from a Blue Cross centre, played a special role on the big day when he ‘gave the bride away’ at the altar. Katia said: “Bingo has become such an important part of our lives that there was never any doubt he would have to come to our wedding. He helped to make our big day even more special and he looked very handsome in his bow-tie! We’re so happy to have Bingo in our lives that we asked our guests to make a donation to Blue Cross instead of giving us gifts – it was lovely to be able to say thank you to them for helping us find Bingo and to make a difference for more pets like him.”

While it is great that pets are finding roles in their owner’s big days, it is important to remember that beyond the cute photos and special moments, their happiness and comfort is the most important thing whilst they’re there. Anyone considering involving a pet in their wedding day should follow the below tips to make sure that a stress-free day is had by all:

·       Your pet’s personality – when thinking about the role you want your pet to play, consider their personality. For example, you might want your dog to be maid of honour, but do they get stressed in crowds? Be sure not to put your pet through anything that will make them uncomfortable or scared;

·       Check the venue is pet friendly in advance – you would be incredibly disappointed if you turned up on the big day only to find out your beloved pet isn’t allowed inside – and yet, just under a third (32%) of Brits said they would not think to check to see if the venue was pet friendly;

·       Be treat conscious – although weddings are typically a time for you to overindulge on multiple courses of food, you should make sure that your pet isn’t doing the same. Give guests a heads up that treating your pet isn’t a good idea as they may not be aware what foods are safe for animal consumption;

·       Notify the photographer (and your pet!) – make sure your photographer/ videographer knows in advance that your pet will be involved in any shoots so they can think of some creative ideas of how to get them involved. Get your pet used to the camera too; give them a treat every time the camera makes a noise so they associate the sound with something positive and practice poses if you can;

·       Book a pet sitter – a wedding is tiring enough for a human and possibly even more so for your pet. Have someone familiar on hand that can take your pet home and away from the festivities after a couple of hours. The majority of those surveyed (62%) only allowed their pet at the wedding for two hours or less; this is a good rule of thumb.

Whether you are getting married or not, pets can make an exceptional addition to the family. If you would like to give a loving home to a homeless Blue Cross pet, visit bluecross.org.uk for more information.

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