Fairy-tail weddings

Weddings

April 4, 2024

by Jennings Cool Roddey

Photograph by Piper Warlick, courtesy Barks and Blooms. Pictured: Wedding couple Sarah & Gary Sugg with best boy Ridge.

A few minutes before Tara and Michael McKay’s ‘I dos,’ two Bernese mountain dogs strutted down a white runway lined with lanterns to take their places in the wedding ceremony. Capturing the crowd’s attention, Penelope and Theodore, both dressed for the occasion, wagged their tails as they made their way to the front of the room. 

The McKays knew they wanted their dogs to be a part of their special day, and Furever Friends, an all-inclusive pet-sitting service, made it happen. 

“Furever Friends made my wedding day a breeze,” Tara McKay says. Wedding pet-sitting services, such as Furever Friends, specialize in ensuring that pets are not just guests at weddings but members of the celebration.

Formerly a full-time physical therapist, Nicole Dorian, owner of Furever Friends, started her business as a side gig in Buffalo, N.Y., focusing on daily pet-care services. “I love animals and always had animals growing up.”

As she brought on more clients, Dorian started weaning away from the corporate world to grow the business. All the while, she was planning her wedding and wanted her late golden retriever, Roscoe, to be a part of her special day.

Photographs by Adriana McGowan, courtesy Furever Friends

Once she narrowed down her venues based on dog-friendliness, the preparation began. But, having Roscoe there for the first look, ceremony and reception was not as seamless as she had thought it would be. “Leading up to the big day, all the logistics of it turned into a big nightmare. It made me very anxious,” she says. “That is when I decided I needed to open up the wedding side of things through the business.” 

About four years ago, Dorian moved to Charlotte and added wedding services to her repertoire, officially launching Furever Friends.

With a collection of tuxedos, tutus, bows and other stylish accessories, Furever Friends ensures that every pet looks their best for the big day. Dorian and her team also offer safe transportation to and from events for the animals, pet handling, wedding-related pet care before and after events, and overnight stays, if requested. 

“This service is so special,” says McKay, who now works for Furever Friends. “I knew I wanted our fur babies to be a part of our special day from the beginning, but I was going to have to have someone miss a big chunk of the wedding. This way, you can hire someone to take care of your baby and have them be a part of your wedding day without all the stress.” 

The demand for dog wedding services continues to rise, and Dorian says that about 90% of clients request dogs to be a part of the ceremony in some way. “Honestly, the [demand] is getting higher and higher,” she says. “The importance of having your fur baby with you, especially during all of those special times, is higher than it ever was before.” 

“It’s very customizable,” she says, referring to the wedding services side of the business, which caters to clients within a three-hour radius
of Charlotte.

“After the photos, Nicole took [the dogs] home and handled all the care for them for the night,” McKay says. “The best part was I got 100 photos of them throughout the day!”

Photographs by Katie Spata and 1828 Collective, courtesy Furever Friends

Daniela Angelon opened Barks and Blooms, a pet-sitting and dog-walking company serving the Charlotte area, in 2015. The company provided wedding services from the get-go, making it the first dog wedding service in Charlotte, Angelon believes. 

Companies like Barks and Blooms ensure that pets are involved in the celebrations without adding a burden to family members who may be helping in other ways on the wedding day. “We felt that the service would solve that problem for a lot of people, and it really, really took off,” Angelon says. 

Throughout the celebrations, Barks and Blooms takes wedding photos “through the eye of the dog,” providing couples with a glimpse into their special day from their pet’s point of view. Along with photos, couples are given a detailed report via the Barks and Blooms’ app at the end of the wedding. 

Several tips Barks and Blooms shares when adding a pet-sitting service to your wedding include hiring a professional company; meeting in person (with your pet) before the celebrations; including your wedding planner; packing a bag for your dog the day of with toys, treats and necessities; ensuring your dog has been exercised; and scheduling photos with your dog while they are focused and energized. 

“We have done everything from pictures to walking [pets] down the aisle … We have even chaperoned them at parties afterward,” Angelon says. “We try to find out the goal and learn more about the dog so we can make recommendations about what is realistic and what may not be.” 

Talon Brown established Happy Tails, a family-owned pet-care service provider, in 2020. The following year, he added wedding services to the business with the goal of making special occasions more memorable and stress-free for pet parents.

He appreciates the important role he and his team play on a couple’s wedding day and the responsibility to do it well. “By the time we get to the wedding, we know what to do, you know what we are going to do … and you can trust that we are going to do it.” 

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