Posted 56d ago
What happens when a veterinary nurse marries a wedding photographer? A pet chaperone business is made! Who even knew such a thing existed?
Cheryl McElderry, from Washington, Tyne and Wear, has been a registered veterinary nurse for over 10 years, and is now the owner of Wishbone Weddings.
After picking up some useful photography skills from her husband Jamie, who is a wedding photographer, she had the grand idea to create a bespoke pet chaperone business for people who wanted their pet to play a part in their wedding.
Cheryl and Peggy, her Jack Russell (Image: Wishbone Weddings)
Cheryl and Jamie had their Jack Russell, Peggy, as their adorable flower girl when they married five years ago, so know exactly how special the occasion can be if your dog is involved.
She said: “We knew we wanted our dog to come to our wedding. She’s a massive part of our life. At the time there wasn’t anybody who did that [offered a chaperone service].”
Now Cheryl is providing this happiness for other people on their big day, catering to what they want and need. She offers lots of services such as picking the dog up, making sure the dog is groomed, taking wedding photos, or taking them on Wishbone adventure walks to ease the nerves prior to the event.
READ MORE: Pup steals the show at owners’ wedding
She said: “For one occasion, we had a labrador called Milo who was a complete surprise for the groom. So we hid until everyone was seated and Milo came in with the rings around his neck.”
Three recent beautiful dogs that Cheryl chaperoned at weddings (Image: Cheryl McElderry)
As a veterinary nurse, chaperoning came naturally to Cheryl and a business just made sense.
She said: “As I’ve worked with animals and I’ve done it for so long, I really do understand them. So, if they’re getting worried I can read them well. Quite often I can bond with them easily. Usually, the couples can tell and it makes them feel more at ease on the day.”
One of Cheryl’s favourite things to do is taking photos of each dog throughout the day so owners can keep them as memories. On her Instagram page, you can find a highlight for each of the dogs that she has done as a special touch. So far this month Cheryl has chaperoned eight dogs.
Cheryl said: “They want someone reliable to look after their dogs on the day. People would rather have their dog looked after than running around wild.
“It’s just nice seeing how happy the couples are and how impressed they are with the photos I’ve taken for them and when the day goes just how they planned.”
Another one of Cheryl's photography at a wedding (Image: Cheryl McElderry)
Since the business began in 2017, Cheryl has helped chaperone more than 40 dogs at weddings. But the pandemic put the business on pause and Cheryl continued her work as a vet. She says it has been a tough time and Wishbone Weddings has helped bring some happiness after such a sad period.
She said: “It’s really nice to be part of someone’s big day. As a veterinary nurse it’s a lot of sadness so it’s great to have something nice to do with my qualification – especially with the pandemic because the only animals we have been seeing are the emergency-only, so we’re seeing really ill animals.”
But luckily for Cheryl her business is booming since weddings are back and in demand. She has lots of people come to her after brilliant recommendations and more and more people are wanting their dog to be a big part of the day.
“They’re part of the family and some dogs love being part of it,” said Cheryl. “The guests absolutely love it and find it hilarious and they get lots of cuddles. It just adds that little bit of extra happiness on the day.”
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