Human guests are all very well, but what about some furry friends? Beth Forsyth meets five suppliers offering animal services for weddings, covering everything from alpacas to cute collars for the Dog of Honour
Fancy a miniature pony ‘waiter’ trotting round serving drinks to your guests? It sounds like the wedding service you never knew you needed until now – and it’s just one of the packages on offer from Riders of the Storm. The Perthshire equestrian centre can also arrange for its cute little ponies to act as ring-bearers and confetti-carriers.
Would you prefer to arrive at your ceremony on horseback? Leave it to Riders of the Storm to sort out: “A rehearsal at our Killiekrankie base is necessary first, but, having ridden a horse at my own wedding, I can honestly say it’s a dream come true,” smiles founder Kirsty McWilliam.
Introducing a horsey element to your day starts at £250 plus travel expenses, so it needn’t blow the budget. Before you book, though, Kirsty has some words of advice: “Consider how well your venue can accommodate animals, then give us a clear overview of your expectations so we can discuss and then advise what we can do for you.” We’re sure that’ll be, ahem, neigh bother at all…
Wings and rings go hand in hand (or talon in talon) when you enlist the services of Elite Falconry. The Fife aviary can provide an owl to swoop in to a pre-trained member of the bridal party, carrying the wedding bands in a pouch. Romantic scarcely covers it.
Or how about entertaining guests during that pre-dinner lull with a bird-of-prey flying session? “Our handlers can invite guests to come forward and fly our birds with us,” reveals head falconer Roxanne Peddie. “We can also stage photo sessions, such as an eagle flying in to land on the joined, upraised hands of the happy couple.”
There are other options too, depending on the suitability of the venue and the weather conditions, such as a soaring ‘eagle cam’ that can record your guests arriving, and a ‘welcome’ with the magnificent birds perched at the entrance to the ceremony.
Your beloved pup is one of the family and your venue is pet-friendly, so why wouldn’t you have your dog at your wedding? Hiring a chaperone service like All Paws Great and Small takes any stress out of the situation for you and your pet. It also means no one has to remember to take Rex out for toilet runs.
“We offer different chaperone packages across Dumfries and Galloway to suit each couple’s requirements,” says owner Rona Hope. “Some want us to collect their dog, transport it to the venue to act as a ring-bearer or pose for photos, then return it to the sitter; others book their little darling in for one or two nights’ boarding at our ‘home from home’ licensed apartments.”
Prices are tailored individually, but treats and squeaky toys are non-negotiable. “I always carry them in my pocket to ensure happy and posing canines in the photos.” Say cheese woof!
Nailing your own wedding outfit is very often a time-consuming business, but there should be no such dramas if you’re dressing up your dog. Happy Lion makes accessorising the VIP(ooch) a breeze with its range of collars, leads and harnesses. Lynell Fernandes, who launched the dog clothing and accessory store online last year, explains the inspiration behind the brand: “We were invited to a wedding where our beloved Benji was Dog of Honour but we couldn’t find a suitable collar and lead. We picked one from a pet store and the bride wasn’t too happy when she saw the pictures.”
Happy Lion has dandy suits in checked or houndstooth prints, leashes in classic ivory or bohemian lace, and smart bow tie or floral-handkerchief-style collars. On some styles, there’s even the option to have the collar’s metal hardware laser-engraved with your dog’s name. The pages of Dogue magazine surely beckon.
Unless you’re inviting a celebrity to your wedding, we bet the most-photographed ‘guests’ will be the alpacas! These furry creatures are friendly, tame and very photogenic – especially if they’re part of the Claireville Alpacas herd. “Our halters and lead ropes can be matched to colour schemes and the animals can wear bow ties, flower crowns or other accessories upon request,” says Claire Blyth from her farm near Leven.
She covers Fife and the surrounding area and offers three ‘alpackages’ ranging from £350 to £650, depending on the number of animals and length of time they spend at the wedding. “Our alpacas will alternate between mingling with your guests while taking breaks to relax in their petting pen,” says Claire. “Regardless of where they are or what they’re doing, though, our boys will be more than happy to pose for photos, be petted or just simply stand there looking gorgeous!”