Trend towards pet weddings with vows, cake and four-legged guests

CHINA (Reuters/CBS Newspath) – In an enchanting outdoor wedding ceremony complete with balloons, streamers, a delicious cake and an audience of over 50 people, golden retrievers Bree and Bond tied the knot in front of their closest human and four-legged friends.

Pet weddings are on the rise in China, but government policies have had little success in encouraging more people to get married. The society is ageing rapidly, the population is shrinking, and marriage and birth rates remain low.

The popularity of pets and the increasing willingness to spend on them are driving this trend, with spending on furry companions rising 3.2% year-on-year to 279.3 billion yuan ($38.41 billion) in 2023, industry figures show.

“People celebrate weddings. Why can't dogs celebrate weddings?” asked Bree's owner Rye Ling after he walked his dog down the aisle in a white wedding dress. There they vowed to always share treats and play with her husband Bond, who was wearing a dark blue suit.

According to research firm Acuity Knowledge Partners, there were more than 116 million cats and dogs in China's cities in 2023. If China's urban population is evenly distributed, about one in eight Chinese people owns a cat or dog, with the majority of owners under 40, according to Acuity Knowledge Partners.

Ling and his girlfriend Gigi Chen, who were in no rush to get married, spent months meticulously planning the dog ceremony. They hired professional photographers, designed wedding brochures and ordered a custom-made cake costing 800 yuan with decorations reminiscent of Bree and Bond.

Yang Tao, whose pet bakery in Shanghai baked the cake, said she was initially surprised that customers wanted wedding cakes for their dogs, but has already supplied several ceremonies since opening in 2022.

“I think there will be more and more dog weddings,” Yang said. “We have already received an order for the next few months… and that is for a dog wedding.”

Ling said he hoped the ceremony would give Bree and Bond a “sense of ritual” before they have puppies. Ling and Chen themselves are in no rush to get married and plan to have a child.