Waitrose & Partners Weekend Issue 613

18 AUGUST 202 2 43 Photography: Otago Street Collective, Polly Stock Photography, Jane Ball Jayne has also noticed an age divide when it comes to choosing canine companions over humans for the ceremony. “If they’ve got young children already, their children seem to formpart of their wedding, rather than the dog. So it’s mostly young couples that don’t have kids yet, or older couples whose kids have grown up.” Inevitably, the dogs don’t always behave. Jayne recalls how one, at themoment the celebrant asked if anyone had any objections to themarriage, emitted an enormous yawn. Another lost the ring tied to its collar. “We’ve That person could be someone like Annabel Cookson, a professional dog chaperone fromPreston. The 31-year-old has run Pawfect Occasions for more than three years, and has never been busier. “SinceMarch, I’ve been doing eight or nine weddings amonth,” she says. Annabel will typically pick up the pooch first thing on the big day, and take them for a long walk. “Then we’ll arrive at the venue an hour before the ceremony, so they can get used to the environment and all the smells, and I’ll usually sit in the ceremony with them,” she says. “We’ll do ring bearing, where I’ll either walk down the aisle with them when the rings are needed, or I’ll let themo and they’ll go running down, which is really cute. It’s my favourite bit.” Throughout the day, Annabel will help with photos, supervise any guest mingling and bring them to the couple at keymoments. “Then I’ll usually take themback to the couple’s house, and stay over with them. They’re normally back from the wedding the day after, so it works quite nicely.” Over the years Annabel has chaperoned everything fromenormous Newfoundlands to a whole gang of chihuahuas – often dressed up fancily for the occasion. “Quite a few have flower collars, which can be a recipe for disaster. You have to put themon last-minute if they’re real flowers, because they’re going everywhere.” And even for a professional with a degree in animal behaviour, things can go awry. “There’s been the occasional moment,” she admits. “One screamed the place down because he wasn’t getting all the attention. I’ve been dragged down the aisle, which is always a fun one – trying to keep on your feet and not cause a complete scene. And once two terriers decided to have a scrap in themiddle of the ceremony, but it was over very quickly, and luckily everyone found it amusing. Dogs will be dogs.” Annabel does have one dilemma, though. She is engaged, and would have her three dogs at her wedding “in a heartbeat. But who am I going to pick to look after them?” Back in Cornwall, Jayne is sure that having our four-legged friends at weddings is a trend that’s set to stay – and grow. “I just think we’ve become so entangled with our pets now,” she says. “You’d invite your mother, you invite your dog.” And, it seems, they’re not the only animals on the guest list. “We’ve got a wedding next year with a horse. The bride wants to ride to her ceremony in her dress,” says Jayne. “I’m hoping it’s a one-o , I really am.” Watch this space… and we’ve definitely seen an uplift in the number of people bringing a dog to their wedding,” she says. “They’re predominantly ring bearers, and forma huge part of the ceremony. They wear tutus, tuxedos, beautiful collars with rings on them, fancy leads – you see all sorts.” The doggy wedding accessories market is also booming, fromhandmade bow ties tomatch the groomsmen’s colours to pretty pearl necklaces. Evenmainstreambrand Coast has bridesmaid outfits for dogs, complete with sequins and tulle. PUPPY LOVE (Clockwise from left) Annabel Cookson holds Moki the corgi on Ken and Mel’s wedding day; Helen Brooks with husband Alex and dogs Cookie and Heidi; Helen and Cookie; dogs on wedding days at Kilminorth Cottages also had a dog wee on the registrar’s table, and one ran o and did a number two in the catering tent.” she adds. “The caterer wasn’t impressed.” Ems admits her boxer-sta e cross can be a bit of a handful too. “If you’ve got a dog you can’t trust not to get into trouble – like Daisy, who tried to get into the loch – have someone there whose job it is to look after them. Obviously, you don’t want to spend your ceremony with your eye on your dog, making sure they’re not doing anything crazy.” ‘They’re predominantly ring bearers, and form a huge part of the ceremony’

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