Japanese brides and grooms are enlisting their pet dogs to act as canine "witnesses" in wedding ceremonies.
The bride and groom's dog is able to carry the rings up the aisle and then seal documents with their pawprints as part of the pet-friendly wedding. Photo: ALAMY
By Danielle Demetriou in Tokyo 12:36PM BST 11 May 2011
The Yokohama Kokusai Hotel just outside Tokyo is offering couples a "dog wedding" package enabling their beloved pets to play an active role in marital ceremonies.
The bride and groom's dog is able to carry the rings up the aisle and then seal documents with their pawprints as part of the pet-friendly wedding.
The dog is also able to indulge in some pre-ceremony pampering, with washes and shampoos on offer, along with the optional provision of wedding outfits coordinated with their owners.
Tapping into the nation's love of all things canine-related, a professional dog trainer takes care of the pets throughout the ceremony, which is organised in conjunction with a local pet event company.
"The dog recognises the marriage by sealing documents with its paws," a spokesman for the hotel told the Telegraph.
feel that pets are a very important part of the family in Japan. We love dogs and understand that having a dog is very popular for many young Japanese women." The fact that such a package exists in Japan is perhaps little surprise in the light of the nation's two big passions – pets and weddings.
Japan's love of cats and dogs has been well documented, with a pet industry worth billions and the nation's pet population long overtaking the number of children under the age of 12.
From yoga and aromatherapy massages to dancing classes and fashion shows, there are few areas of human life that are not also available to Japan's pampered pets.
Wedding services have also long been a major business in Japan, with the industry was valued at around £20.8 billion (2,748 billion yen) in a recent report by Yano Research Institute.
Traditional Japanese weddings conducted according to Shinto customs have increasingly been eclipsed by younger generations opting for lavish Western style ceremonies.