It is supposed to be a couple's happiest day, when they say their vows and promise to love each other forever. The bride is in white, the groom is perfectly suited and, thanks to the help of two very special wedding planners, the ring bearer is dressed for the occasion, tongue out and tail wagging in excitement for its human parents.
Ilana Mobley and Kelly Maronpot started FairyTail Planning, a special event pet sitting service, to make dog lovers' dreams of including their furry friends in their wedding come true.
"You consider your dog your family member," said Maronpot. "On such a special day you'd like your family members with you. It's a support system to break that tension. When the dog walks down the aisle, everyone smiles."
The two friends, business partners, and self-proclaimed "crazy dog people" from Safety Harbor always wanted to work with animals. They had been pet sitting for friends since they were 13 years old, but it was while working in event planning at Hilton Hotels & Resorts that they saw a dog-friendly business opportunity.
"We saw a lot of people who wanted their dogs to be a part of this special day but either they couldn't figure out how, or they would assign someone to be in charge of the dog and that person was miserable wondering how they got stuck having to pet sit during the entire ceremony," said Mobley.
To solve that problem, they created FairyTail Planning, the first company of its kind in Florida. On the day of the proud pet-owners' wedding, Mobley and Maronpot pick up the four-legged guest, take it to the groomer for a luxury bath and a tux or maid of honor flower collar, and bring it over to the ceremony venue. There they assist with getting the animal down the aisle, wipe paws so no dresses are stained by an overexcited jumper, keep the dog calm with plenty of belly rubs, and when the party starts, they drive Fido back home so the humans can dance the night away.
For an added fee, clients can even get the dog's perspective on video via a GoPro camera strapped to its back throughout the ceremony. Once the couple leaves for the honeymoon, FairyTail Planning also offers dog sitting services.
According to Maronpot, most couples reach out to them after seeing photos on social media. Whether it is as a part of the processional carrying a sign like "Here Comes the Bride" or as an honorary "groomsdog" or maid of honor, the images of dogs in weddings are hard to resist but also hard to pull off without professional help.
"We bring toys, treats, stand behind the photographer and call their name, all to make sure the dog focuses and looks at the camera," said Mobley of the sometimes chaotic process of getting the pooches to be on their best behavior. "It's all worth it when you see the couple's faces, though," Maronpot said. "It's the most intimate moment in the biggest day of people's lives and we get to be a part of it."