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  • Writer's pictureLisa Flahant

Including your dog in your wedding day

It’s brilliant the number of couples who ask me if they can involve their furry family in their wedding day, and the answer is always – yes please! Including your dog in your special day is particularly well suited to outdoor weddings – which is probably why I hear the patter of tiny paws at the majority of my ceremonies.

Wedding couple walking their two dogs
Image courtesy of Christopher Hill Photography

It was rather perfect timing when earlier this year, dog chaperone and canine expert Sophie Goffin contacted me about the services she offers – and I asked whether I could do a little interview with her to find out more.

Hey Sophie, it’s great to chat to you, so tell me about yourself?

Hey Lisa, thanks for having me! First and foremost, I’m a single mum of one, with a degree in Applied Animal Studies and several years’ experience working in veterinary practice. My business is Misty’s Meadows and it is now four years old; originally it was an animal nutrition and canine enrichment service, but more recently we have expanded into dog chaperoning, which is something we love!

What was the inspiration behind setting up the chaperoning service?

I became aware of many couples, including some friends, who had included their dog at their wedding, but encountered various difficulties on the day. Whether that was finding someone to look after their pup who didn’t feel that they were missing out, or perhaps the dog being passed among a number of guests and being a bit stressed by it – often it seemed that their good intentions didn’t work out as well in reality.

So we started offering chaperoning services – but with a bit of difference. Clearly the welfare of the dog is the most important factor – so naturally we attend to all the dog's needs, including providing water, food, walks, enrichment activities and toilet breaks. But we’re also really happy to spend time getting to know the dog in advance and building a bond with them, so they are more relaxed on the day, and if so inclined, we can teach them do tricks which are popular for photos such as ‘sitting pretty’ or giving ‘hugs’. Of course, only if the dog is amenable to this!

And for some dogs, they might not get involved in the day, but the couple want to know that their favourite pup is being cared for and having the time of his/her life with us, rather than spending it with a wedding guest who might otherwise be missing out.

What is your favourite part about your work?

My favourite part about working with dogs - is working with dogs! I’ve always loved dogs and working with them on a daily basis makes me feel like the luckiest girl on the planet. Plus I am combining my love of canines and all they have to offer us, with attending the happiest days of my clients’ lives – what could be more perfect?

So how do you prepare with the couple to make sure everything runs smoothly?

My mission is to go above and beyond to ensure that the couple’s fur baby is involved and cared for, not only during, but before and after the wedding too.

Firstly, I get to know the couple and their dog, and ask lots of questions which will help determine how much support they are going to need on their big day. Ensuring the dog has the right temperament to cope with any attention is an absolute priority, as is being confident that I can keep the dog, myself, and all other people safe on the day, as well helping the dog to enjoy the day as much as everyone else.

Finding out about the structure of the day and any themes or styles helps ascertain which services might be best suited to them. Some couples know that their dog will be happy to greet their guests, or perhaps walk up the aisle with them. A dog as a best man is not unheard of, and we can even arrange for the dog to arrive in their own fancy car, should the couple decide that’s something they would like!

Some couples like that we can customise a complementary outfit or accessory for their dog, to ensure they look the part, but still feel comfortable. And of course, training the dog to look after or deliver the rings is a wonderful addition to any ceremony. We can take photos throughout the day as well, providing a little keepsake photobook if requested, so couples know exactly how much fun their pooch has had!

And last but not least, we plan out lots of walks, a wipe down and brush, attending to all welfare needs, as well as the safe delivery of the dog to the couple’s chosen overnight care provider at the end of the day. And if the couple want us to stay with the dog at home while the festivities are taking place, or even longer while they are honeymooning, we can do that.

What are your favourite types of ceremony to be at? I do love a wedding with a theme! So some of my favourites are beach weddings with everyone in Hawaiian shirts and skirts, or a even medieval banquet complete with jousting! I am quite a quirky soul with a wild imagination, so being creative keeps me on my toes. That said, I absolutely adore all weddings, as they are just the happiest of all occasions.

So what do the next 12 months look like for you?

Well, now we know what is happening with weddings, we are really looking forward to getting back on track and attending lots of special days this year. We can’t wait!

A big thank you to Sophie for talking to me - Misty’s Meadows is based in the South East but they happily travel all over the UK. (Lockdown permitting!)

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