An interview with | Star Paws
If I was getting married now Katie at Star Paws is someone I’d book right away! I would definitely want Daisy and Poppy to be part of the day but I totally get that the logistics would take some thinking about to make it happen. Katie can take care of all of that for you – a genius no-brainer of an idea. Katie can bring your dog to your wedding and look after them while they’re there but the service goes way beyond that. Read this interview with her to find out more about what she does along with a little behind the scenes fun.
But first, here’s Katie and her pooch Archie …
How did you get into offering a wedding chaperone service for dogs?
I initially set up my business ‘Star Paws’, to provide dog walking, pet taxi and general pet care services to customers in Northampton. As a dog owner myself, I know just how important pets are to their owners. I started to consider what other pet services I could offer and I just had this idea about offering couples getting married the opportunity to share their special day with their hound. I contacted a wedding fair organiser and they thought it would be a really popular wedding idea. I exhibited at my first wedding fair last April and had such a fantastic response I knew I was on to something good.
What’s a typical wedding day like for you?
Each wedding day is really different as the services I offer are bespoke to each couple. The night before I like to go over the timings for the day and make sure I have everything I need. This includes any doggy wedding attire, addresses and keys for collection and drop off locations. It can be an early start if the dog is going to have a professional groom first. Otherwise I’ll collect the dog from the agreed address in my crated vehicle. The couple may have requested a dog walk before arriving at the venue. I’ll dress the dog in any requested wedding attire and then him/her and I are there to welcome guests as they arrive. I’m there to make sure the dog is looked after before, during and after the wedding ceremony. This allows the couple to have their dog with them, without the worry of who’s looking after him/her. Generally, after the dog has been featured in the all-important wedding photos we leave the venue and if requested will walk them before transporting him/her to the agreed drop off address.
Is there any preparation involved? Do you meet the dog beforehand? How does the ‘process’ work?
Yes, there is quite a bit of preparation involved. Once I have received a wedding enquiry, I arrange a face to face meeting with the couple (and their dog!) to discuss my services in more detail and get an idea of what they are looking for.
Although I provide different packages, the services are tailored to each customer and additional services can be included. For example, a trip to the groomer on the morning of the wedding; a dog walk before and/or after the wedding; sourcing doggy wedding attire; creating a bespoke wedding lead or flower girl wreath to match the colour scheme; finding a suitable boarding facility; transporting the dog to/from the venue; home visit to check on the dog later in the day. I also provide a complimentary sign that the dog wears and the couple gets to choose what wording they want it to say.
Once the customer decides to go ahead with my services, I ask them to fill in a contract which provides me with more details about the wedding venue, the dog and details of the collection and drop off addresses. Nearer to the wedding date I will collect keys if necessary and go through final details with the couple. There’s much more involved than holding the lead and it’s a big responsibility to be caring for someone’s precious pet.
What do you love most about taking dogs to their owners’ weddings?
I feel very privileged to be part of a couple’s special day. It’s such a joyous occasion and you can’t help but get drawn in to the wonderful atmosphere. I love the reaction when guests first see their dog. It’s great that couples get to have their dog with them and it means they can include the whole family.
What’s the hardest thing about chaperoning dogs at weddings?
I would say not knowing how the dog is going to react on the day with lots of people bustling around and being in unfamiliar surroundings. Even the calmest dogs can act differently, especially if they have been away from their owners for a few days and are very excited to see them.
What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you on a wedding day?
Hmm, can’t say I’ve had any disastrous situations so far, but I have had to chaperone some very strong dogs which can make walking down the aisle with them a challenge!
Is there a dog you’ve taken to a wedding that really sticks out in your mind?
Yes, I was asked to chaperone Jenson to his owners’ wedding in the summer. When I got to the venue, I found out I had been given a special seat right at the front of the wedding venue. Jenson and I were right next to the couple as they said their vows. Very special.
Whose dog would you most like to take to their wedding? Past, present or future?
I would love to chaperone my sister’s two dogs (Minnie & Gizmo) at her wedding. What makes it even more special is my dog Archie is Minnie’s brother!
What do you usually do when you get home from a wedding?
I have two dogs at home, so the first thing I do is take them both for a walk – promptly followed by a cup of tea while I look through the photos I’ve taken at the wedding.
If you could give a couple one piece of advice about having their dog at their wedding, what would it be?
If you want to have your dog at your wedding, it’s important to be relaxed and have a ‘go with the flow’ type of attitude. Dogs can be unpredictable and may not do exactly what you want them to do. So the important thing is to just have fun and don’t worry if things don’t go exactly to plan.