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Feature: Man’s (and wife’s) “best friend”: What To Do With Your Pet During your Wedding & Honeymoon?

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As you all know this September, Graham and I are getting married ourselves in the Wales… and just off the bat here, we are defiantly in camp for Including your pet at your wedding. There was absolutely no question that Glyn the Dog would be our +2 for our wedding and there was no way he wanted to be missing such an important event in the lives of “his humans”. 😉

Going away? Take your pet with you…

Our plan is to take him along in the car and on the boat from Belfast to Wales (On a side note, we actually did this same trip last summer when we went on our camping holiday to Tenby in West Wales. Graham (and it appears Glyn) loves camping – I on the other hand love nice hotels! 😉 Anyhow, a lovely part of the world I highly recommend it if you ever get the chance to visit.) So back to our wedding… Our plan is to get the boat over from Belfast to Cairnryan and then drive down from Scotland to near Cardiff OR get the boat from Rosslare and drive from Pembroke. I am not sure which we will go for yet as we are still trying to work out the logistics, but from our experience last year of taking Glyn on the boat I have a few tips which might be handy if you are planning to have your furry friend as your +2 on your own wedding day.

Take a thick/cheap blanket and a cheap (disposable) water bowl with you… Trust me, you will want to leave this on the boat!

We travelled last year with Stena Line from Dublin to Holyhead on one of their fast boats. The “kennels on board” are free and are down on the car deck. When I say “kennel”, I mean it in the loosest sense of the word. They are just large dog carry cases (like crates) and not actually fitted to the ship at all.  With no bowl for water or anything in them.  Glyn is like his owners, he likes his “creature comforts”, so I don’t think he was too happy as we headed up to the palatial surroundings of the passenger deck and left him with the other pooches. The kennels were’nt clean and just not very pleasant. I actually wanted to leave Glyn in the car on the way home. They were not great but… it was only a short crossing. So we were soon back on the road (with Glyn on Graham’s lap for the 6 hour drive!)

Book the kennel early

We were told to book a kennel in advance (which we did) as there were only a few of them. Saying that, no one actually checked to see if we had. It was free.

Our plan to take Glyn to Wales for the wedding – including your pet at your wedding

Before we travel

Now this isn’t an April fools, you will need to do this if you are travelling (in the “EU”): Glyn already has a pet passport which you will need if you intend to travel through Ireland which we did last year. Although again no one asked for it.

Like Graham before the wedding, I plan on getting Glyn groomed so he looks his best on the day! With about 2 weeks to go to the wedding book your pooch in so there is enough time for his fur to regrow a bit making him super cute. (Glyn looks SUPER cute when his fur is just a wee bit long!)

On the night we arrive in Wales he will get a bath at home (after all he will be sitting on Graham’s lap the whole journey… and boys are smelly!)

Depending on how mucky he gets during the travelling (or in the few days we are in Wales beforehand) he will get another bath the night before the wedding… so he is super cute and fresh smelling for the big day.

On the day of the wedding

Wooooohooooo wedding day! (Sorry, just super excited!). Okay, now that is out of the way… Glyn will be with me in the morning of our big day at my mum and dad’s house (where I will be getting ready). Although depending on how much there is to do still, Graham might also still be at my mum and dad’s finishing setting up the marquee, and of course not seeing me! So while all this is going on Glyn will be pottering around, I am sure, hopefully looking up at people from his low vantage point on the floor and willing them to drop a food on the floor that he can hoover up! (Trust me, once you get a dog, Henry the hoover goes in the bin!)

So after I have got in to my frock and had my hair done (PS: You will LOVE my wedding dress… My mum, Graham’s mum and Graham’s sister think it is fab… Graham hasn’t seen it of course!) we will all head off to the ceremony in the South Wales town of Pontypridd. At the moment we are working on the logistics of that too and wee Glyn will “mind the fort” from intruders and other undesirables while we are away at the ceremony. (Did you know that Lhasa Apsos were actually bred as guard dogs?! Looking at him you wouldn’t think they could be terribly threatening, but they do have a FANTASTICALLY LOUD bark! So after the ceremony (and once I am Mrs Crichton! Woohoo!) we are trying to work out if we can get him brought down for photos… but not sure if that will be logistically possible yet. (I have used that word a lot haven’t I?! Logistically… a very long word). We might just have to take him to the park near my house when we get back. My mum has bought him a wedding tux, so I have to get photos of him in it!

The afternoon and evening

We are getting married good and early, at 11am. (I want to maximise the party time afterwards!). If you have met Glyn the Dog you will already know that he is super sociable, both with other animals and humans (including kids), so we have no worries about him at all and we expect he will spend the day just milling around in the house and garden (where we are setting up a marquee).  I will probably put his travel bed up in the house during the day – just in case he feels like he needs somewhere to get away from everyone for a bit though.  (On a sidenote… we did see this cool idea of about strapping a go pro to a dog on the wedding day… I suppose you could call them a videDOGrapher?! 😉 haha… get it? Ok, I digress… but he might be a bit small / hate it. We might give it a go before the wedding and see how he gets on. You never know, we could always offer our videDOGgraphy as an extra service and bring him to your wedding?! 😉

Other options we did consider

It’s not always possible to include your pet in your wedding, for many reasons: travelling away, venues not allowing it at all, would just not be good for your pet (if they are of a nervous nature for instance), wouldn’t like the noise or all the people and strange smells.

What we do when Glyn isn’t at work with us (which he is most days. He has his own sofa in the office and sits with Graham all day – giving a wee bark when it is time to “do his business” or take Graham walkies. He also loves a good bark at the dog in the unit opposite us! hehe. Anyhow, when not in the office he is Very kindly looked after during the day by Graham’s mum and dad at their home. This only thing with “doggie day care” at theirs is that they are not able to walk him, so he just gets a good run around their garden when he is there.

If we go away overnight then he is looked after by the fantastic Dawn from Framewerk (who also does all of our framing… her frames are gorgeous and all our portraits go in them!). Funnily enough Dawn was the lovely “Dawn the Dog Sitter” to us before we knew she was “Dawn the Framer”. We found her though Gumtree as we wanted to leave Glyn with someone who would care for him in their own home rather than a traditional kennels. She is an absolute star to take care of him and I think he has a ball with her and her hubby. He spends most of his days with Dawn in her frame shop just down the road from our studio. We get regular updates from her and “proof of life” pictures! (see above!)

3 tips for when you are considering kennelling

My advice here for anyone considering kennelling for your dog or cat for your wedding/honeymoon is:

There are a wide range of kennelling facilities around, from people who do it on a small scale and will have your pet inside their own house (or framing shop! Just like Dawn the Dog Sitter/Framer does for us) to large outdoor barn kennels to even… wait for it… Doggy Hotels. TravelDogd or Premier Glyn… hehe, okay enough of the dog jokes… they are just ruff! 😉

Find out what you can afford

It’s a given that you will want to leave you pet somewhere that they will be well locked after and with reputable people. But you need to think about how much per night you can afford. If a kennel is upwards of £100 a night (and some doggy hotels can be), you’re talking £2100 if you need your pet to be looked after for 3 weeks.. also ask about feeding – many places will expect you to provide your pets food for the whole time they are staying. Saying that, if I was paying £2100 for Glyn for his holidays, I would expect it to be a Package Holiday! All you can eat dog food and the likes… and probably Margaitas in his bowl instead of water!!!

Go and visit the place before hand and take your pet with you if it’s feasible (more so with a dog than a cat… and rabbits just don’t care!)

You will feel a whole lot happier if you know where your pet is going to be staying – which will leave you free to enjoy your big day/time away more. Also it saves you the hassle of trying to find something last minute. If you turn up and your furry friend hates the place when you get there, you and they won’t be too happy. Also this will give you a good chance to chat to the people running the place and iron out any concerns you have about routine or feeding. That way you can check if there is anything they need. All reputable places will not take a pet whose vaccinations & licence are not up to date and most will not take an un-micro chipped pet. All of which they will need you to prove when you drop him off.

Book early

Once you have decided on a place, you will need to confirm your pet’s place there as soon as you possibly can. This is especially true if you are planning to go away for a long honeymoon or you are going in peak holiday season. Think of it like booking a hotel… the best ones fill up quickly (and they are the ones you would want to stay in!), the bad ones are always available for a reason… So booking early, that way you will be more likely to get your pet into the place you want. For instance we know that Dawn is fully booked for May, so we arranged with her before Christmas to have Glyn for the last week of May while we are away for work to Italy!

And if they can’t come along all day… how about “Inviting” your pet to part of your day?

Okay, so it might not be possible (or sensible) to have your pet at your wedding all day… but with them being such a big part of your lives, why not “invite” them to part of the day and get a friend to pick them up and bring them for some photos, before then heading back. That way you get some pics your your pet without any hassle of having to keep an eye on them all day.

So, lots to “chew” on there…

So, FIVE TOP TIPS if you want to “invite” your pet to your wedding:

  1. Have several water bowls and long lasting treats floating around in different places
  2. Keep your dress, shoes and jewellry away from your furry one (think of them like an extension of the groom… they can’t be trusted with valuable stuff!)
  3. Close any gates or external doors… we don’t want anyone running off… atleast before the dancing begins!
  4. Let your photographer know (in advance) that there may be an (unco-operative) addition to the photographs
  5. Pets don’t like too much noise, so think about this. If your pet doesn’t like crowds, then they won’t like your wedding. We all love our dogs, rabbits, cats, hamsters and miniature pigs… but we have to put them first. Their safety, well-being and enjoyment comes first… before ours. It may be our wedding day, but it is theirs too. Don’t put them under any undue stress or pressure. If you think they won’t enjoy it, leave them in a kennel or to be looked after by someone else on your day.

I hope these tips will have helped you and your furry friend. I would love to know on Facebook what your plans are for your pet during your wedding! Are you involving them? How about a ring bearing rabbit, or a cake cutting cat?

On  a side note, this fine young man is Pip the Dog, and his human’s are getting married in Italy in June! Pip sadly can’t come to their wedding so… what better way to involve him than having his picture taken and then turned in to a giant life sized cardboard cut out?! Genius or what?

About GRAHAM

Graham Crichton is an award winning professional wedding & portrait photographer based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. With 10 years of experience and having photographed hundreds of weddings he has photographed weddings all over Ireland, the UK and abroad.

About HANNAH

Hannah Crichton is the principal photographic assistant, blogger and studio manager (and other half of Graham Crichton Photography). Hannah and Graham recently married themselves in Ynysybwl, Wales, where Hannah is originally from. Hannah loves “everything wedding"!

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