Pet Chaperones are the one wedding supplier you never knew you needed!
Pet chaperone Amanda Fraser Fish explains why booking her is just as important as every other supplier on your wedding wish list. ‘Dogs are part of our families, so of course we want them involved in our wedding day,’ says Amanda ‘but it takes planning and expert care to ensure they are as relaxed as the happy couple themselves.’
Timing is everything
‘The dog is with me either the night before or from the day of the wedding. If it’s the former then we will come to the venue together, arriving about half an hour before the wedding party arrive. It gives me time to settle the dog, have a wander around, make sure it has been to the toilet. I will have done a risk assessment before so I will know the venue and the layout, the best places for shade to keep them cool. We will have photos before the wedding, typically with just the couple, then the dog can be the ring bearer.
It’s all very structured. When you say the words ‘dogs at weddings’ people imagine them running riot, they think of the Labrador and the wedding cake, it just feels like it could all go very wrong. But my timings are very structured so that we come in, we perform the role you’d like us to do and then we remove ourselves again. So, if you dog was going to be a ring bearer, I would hand your dog to the person who was going to walk them up the aisle, then you get that photo, then the dog comes back down the aisle and I take them straight out. It means the dog can relax and settle again before they’re needed to greet the couple after the wedding.’
Short and simple works best
‘The dog’s interactions should be quite short. I’ll always be assessing how relaxed the dog is but also how the guests are around the dog. Some people aren’t dog people so the dog may need to be contained to certain spaces. I had a Doberman I took to a wedding last year and he was a pup but still a very big dog to handle. The couple wanted a little boy to walk him down the aisle and I felt there were just too many potential risks involved so I advised against it. In the end the father-in-law walked with the boy too. I can walk the dog up the aisle if that’s what people prefer. It’s like working with toddlers, you keep it short and you keep it simple. It’s probably two to three hours max. I’ll be fully aware of the wedding timings for the day. The dog’s role is complete when the food service starts.’
All dogs are different
‘It’s really important for me to get to know your dog before the wedding day. I meet all my clients before. They will come and visit me with the dog, or I’ll go and meet the clients at their house so I can learn a bit about the dog. It means on the wedding day we have some familiarity. It’s about reassuring everyone. There are weddings I’ve said no to because of the breed of the dog, the situation or the time of year. I can see all the associated risks and sometimes it’s just not the best thing for the dog. Dogs that have very strong relationships with one person, like Huskies for example, tend to like being with their owner. Venues love what I do because it means they also don’t have to worry about having dogs on site, around food or how they might interact with other guests who may not be part of the wedding party.’
The brief is to keep your dog happy
‘In wedding season, the heat can be the big issue. I did a wedding on the hottest weekend in August last summer, but I was able to search out little corners of this old stone house to keep the dog cool in between the moments she was needed. That works brilliantly because my focus is totally on the dog. If a member of the wedding party had the dog, that wouldn’t be the case. The beauty of what I do is that I am proving a solution to a problem. People knew they wanted it but not that this service was available to book.’
Weddings and honeymoons
I board dogs in my home, that’s how my business started, so the wedding service has really become an extension of that. I take up to three dogs at one time. I will always check the behaviours, the breed of the dogs, meet the dog and see how they are. Then a lot of it is common sense. I feed them separately for example because most dogs tend to get possessive about food. I can also keep them for the honeymoon if people would like me to.
Love dogs and people
You have to be sure your pet chaperone is not only good with your dog but good with people too. It’s comes with age and the knowledge that I am good at what I do, and I love what I do. I never have to feel that I’m pretending. This is who I am, and this is how I work. It’s liberating.
I get booked a long way in advance. I’m booking weddings for 2024 now. I live in Suffolk, but I will travel nationwide. I offer three different packages that range from an on the day service for one dog that starts at £415. If you are looking to have you dog board with me the day before and after your wedding, then the price starts at £475. I can also drive dogs back to the venue or home after the wedding if needed.
Photography: Marcus Rice.