A pooch who brought her owners together was chief bridesmaid at a last-minute wedding planned after the bride was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Guest of honour Mili, 12, watched as owner Nicole Wakefield, 56, married long-term partner Arfon Williams, 61, on 10 March.
The couple, from Llanfairfechan, North Wales, planned the ‘fast track’ nuptials in just five days after Nicole was diagnosed with incurable bowel cancer earlier this month.
For Nicole and Arfon, who met 10 years ago while walking their dogs, matchmaker Mili, a Red Welsh-Calpi cross, was the only choice to accompany the bride on the special day.
Nicole, a teacher, said: “Arfon and I met when we were out walking our dogs. I’d take Mili out and we used to see each other and talk about how the dogs were, and we set up a local dog walk together.
“Mili’s part of the family. She really brought us together, and we didn’t want her to miss out on the wedding. There was no competition really for chief bridesmaid.
“She was watching really intently while we were signing the marriage register. She’s quite a calm dog, and I think she could feel the nice feeling on the day.
“She stared at us a lot through the ceremony. When we were signing the marriage register she was watching really intently.”
The loyal pooch, who Nicole has had since she was a puppy, donned a yellow carnation on her collar for the special occasion and stayed close to her owner’s side throughout the ceremony.
Nicole was diagnosed with incurable bowel cancer just one week ago after visiting her doctor when she began suffering from slight indigestion.
Despite the diagnosis, the couple were thrilled when Ysbyty Gwynedd hospital staff and Macmillan nurses helped them plan the perfect wedding to lift their spirits at the difficult time.
Nicole, who is also an artist, said: “We’d talked about it for a long time but never really got around to it. So we just thought, ‘let’s do it now.’
“It was just by chance that I mentioned to one of the nurses that we had wanted to get married. The same day the registrar popped round on her way home from work to plan.
“We could never imagine we would be able to do it so quickly. They just sorted it all for us. We told friends and colleagues and we had masses of flowers sent to us.
“It was wonderful. There was just so much love and warmth. It gives you so much strength.
“It’s an amazing feeling. And knowing that the dog is there for a cuddle too when things are hard is great.”
Nicole began chemotherapy treatment three days after their wedding.
New husband Arfon, who has three grown children from a previous relationship, said: “The whole process started about four weeks ago and it’s been getting more emotional around the house.
“It’s gone from very sad emotions to the complete opposite now. When something like this happens it brings you together.
“Mili’s very special. It was a joint decision to have her as chief bridesmaid, it was the natural decision and just made it more beautiful really.”