East Grinstead groom surprises bride with special four-legged guest at their wedding
East Grinstead bride Sophie Graham got the surprise of her life when she spotted a special guest at her wedding.
It was a Dalmatian that her husband-to-be Paul had arranged to be brought along to the ceremony for Sophie, 28, who says she is just dotty about Dalmatians.
Paul, also 28, revealed he had arranged for her favourite breed to be the canine star of the show on their wedding day.
The thoughtful groom said: "Sophie has been mad about Dalmatians since her family bought her a cuddly Dalmatian toy, who she named Sally, when she was six years old.
"That toy still goes everywhere with her. It’s been to Disneyland Paris, Turkey, America and on lots of other holiday trips.
"I wanted to make our wedding day super special so I decided to try to hire a real Dalmatian for our big day. I contacted a few professional companies but they wanted to charge me £700.
"Then I came up with the idea of calling some dog walking firms. I contacted Lucy Platt from easyDogwalker - a franchise operation backed by easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou and his easy family of brands - in Sussex and explained my plans, and she loved the idea. Lucy was absolutely fantastic.
"She got us a Dalmatian, called Harvey, who spent a full hour with us while we were having our photos taken at the wedding. Sophie’s face was a picture when she saw Harvey arrive."
"Sophie, who works as a freelance fitness instructor, and Paul, a fitness manager for Pure Gym, tied the knot at the Ravenswood Hotel in their home town of East Grinstead.
Paul said: "We gave Lucy a surprise bag with chocolates and a card to thank her for all the amazing help.
"Harvey was a real star – and behaved impeccably apart from the fact that my shirt got a little muddy from his wet paws, but Sophie’s dress stayed perfectly white!”
Sophie added: "When I saw the dog I was so happy, so surprised and it was such a shock. It was lovely and so considerate of Paul and it made the wedding day even more special."
It’s no surprise that Sophie admitted that her favourite movie is 101 Dalmatians starring Glenn Close, Hugh Laurie, Joely Richardson and Jeff Daniels.
“I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched it but it’s still my go-to movie," she said.
So, have the happy couple any plans to buy a Dalmatian of their own? Sophie said: "When I was a child I told my family I don’t care if I don’t have furniture when I grow up, as long as I have a real Dalmatian.
"Now I know I do need furniture, but the dream to own a spotty dog has never gone away. When we move into a bigger place we are definitely going to buy ourselves a Dalmatian."