“I’m a wedding dog chaperone, I make sure your pooch behaves on your big day"

Weddings are usually associated with traditions such as vows, cake and dancing. So it may come as a surprise that some couples are throwing the rulebook out of the window and involving their dogs in their nuptials.

Celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux, Carrie Underwood and Mike Fisher and Robbie Williams and Ayda Field have had their pups front and centre on their big days.

But just how do you involve your beloved animals in your ceremony when you get married? Afterall, you've got so much to think about and do that you probably don't have time to look after them yourself.

Step forward canine chaperones. Demand for their services has surged in recent years now that more dogs are attending weddings.

These business owners are tasked with making sure pooches sit still for photo opportunities, get down the aisle and behave well as they watch you say your vows.

The companies then whisk them away for the night, allowing you to party and enjoy the rest of your evening before picking them up the next day.

One example is A Pad 4 Paws, a five-star rated dog chaperone vendor on Hitched.co.uk, based in Devon and run by Sue and Pete.

Sue and Pete decided to create their enterprise after they went to their son's wedding and realised there was no one for them to leave their fur babies with during the breakfast and evening reception.

They wanted other owners to be able to take their animals with them to ceremonies and be able to have fun without stressing about looking after their furry friends.

"While the venue itself was dog friendly, everyone you would normally ask to care for them was there with you," they tell OK!

Their hound chaperone service, day care and walking business was founded in 2018 and now they both work there full-time.

Although pet chaperoning is a very rewarding job and Sue and Pete both love it, it doesn't come without its occasional chaotic and funny moments and they and the guests are often left in stitches.

Sue explains: "During one wedding after the words 'is there anyone present who doesn't think this couple should be joined in Holy matrimony" were said, one of our Labradors barked.

"It was completely random and unprovoked and was very amusing when it happened."

Sometimes, their profession can also be emotional, as Sue discovered when they were able to return to doing what they loved after lockdown.

She says: "We’re waiting outside the ceremony room by the windows and could hear the cheers and singing when the couple got married. The tears rolled down my face as life was finally returning to normal.

It's normally quite a long process when it comes to organising the chaperone service for the day itself. Sue and Pete receive an enquiry and then speak to the couples on Zoom to find out their expectations for their wedding day.

Sue adds: "We remain as flexible as we can and one of our first questions is finding out how the dog is around small crowds of people.

"We have had to say no a couple of times as we are there for their welfare, and didn’t feel that the event would be right for them."

Before the big day, the chaperones meet up with the owners and their four-legged friends and have another Zoom call to check that everything is in place and can run as smoothly as possible.

When the nuptials roll around, Sue and Pete are there to keep the pets happy and to ensure they are there for important pictures and duties throughout the day.

They explain: "We make sure that they are cared for, walked, refreshed and rested, and kept nice and comfortable. Especially when the weather is very hot; we always seek a shady quiet spot to give them comfort.

"We aim to blend into the background but are there to take them back when the photos/duty has been completed.

"We either bring them back with us to stay at our licensed property or pet sit them at the venue or at a chosen pre-arranged location."

For both Sue and Pete, their favourite part of every wedding is walking into the ceremony with the pup.

"The smiles, happiness and love are so special when we come down the aisle. They are family and that is why we do this", they say.

While they love their profession and wouldn't do anything else, they do want people to know that a lot of work goes into their career.

They explain: "We are more than dog walkers. We put a lot of effort and time into caring for the animals and also there is a lot of correspondence and meetings leading up to the actual wedding.

"We're very proud and honoured to do what we do. It is a huge privilege to be at the couple's wedding with their dog."

Find out more about A Pad 4 Paws by clicking here. Find out more about Hitched by clicking here.

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