Yes, It's True: Your Dog Can Be Your Official Wedding Witness
For many engaged couples, one of the best parts of wedding planning is figuring out ways to incorporate their pets into the big day. Some people choose to name specialty cocktails after their dogs or cats, while others print their pictures on custom napkins or place photos of the animals around the room for guests to see. Those with particularly well-behaved furry friends often opt to have their pets take part in the actual ceremony, by walking up the aisle in special outfits, holding the rings, or even acting as official witnesses.
Yes, that's right—depending on where you live, your pet can be your legitimate wedding witness in the eyes of the law. In many U.S. states, the government only requires one witness or none at all, meaning there's room for pets to serve as either a primary or secondary witness. The dog or cat (or, hey, even rabbit or hamster) can actually sign the marriage license themselves—although they might need a helping hand from you or your partner to make it happen via signature or paw print.
In 23 states and Washington, D.C., no witnesses are required for ceremonies, just a signed license by human or animal. And in six more states (California, Iowa, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and South Dakota), only one witness is needed, so there's still space for a pet to join in.
This might sound like some new, exciting update to existing marriage laws, but as it turns out, pet witnesses have been allowed for several decades. "[My parents] got married in their living room with their two dogs as witnesses. It'll be 30 years next week!" wrote one Reddit user in 2019, alongside a sweet photo of the then-newlyweds.
Even celebrities have gotten in on the cute trend. In 2016, the actress Chelsea Peretti and director Jordan Peele got married in California with their beloved pup front-and-center. "Eloped a bit ago. Our only witness was this lil guy," Peretti wrote in an adorable Instagram post showing their dog sitting next to a bouquet of flowers and a wedding ring.
If you're a pet owner with a wedding on the horizon, consider having your four-legged pal be there to witness your nuptials, as long as your state allows. Or, look into having your pet officiate the ceremony; seven states plus Washington, D.C. don't require officiants and therefore allow animals to take on the role unofficially.
Whichever option you choose, you can't go wrong, because really, is there anything sweeter than having your whole family there to celebrate your special day?
States Where Your Dog Can Act as Your Wedding Witness
- New Hampshire
- New York
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
- Washington, D.C.
States That Allow Your Dog to Serve as Your Wedding Officiant
- Washington, D.C.