Bow Vows

At Albert and Bridget’s wedding, adhering to the cliché that has practically become wedding tradition, the bride was late for the ceremony. No, it wasn’t wedding jitters; in this case, our bride was busy searching out the perfect sport to pee.


In what has become almost a tradition at weddings, when Albert married Bridget, the bride was late for the ceremony because she was meticulously looking for the perfect spot to pee.

When she finally squatted on some rocks in full view of the wedding guests patiently waiting for the sunset beach ceremony to begin, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. Fortunately, Bridget a Maltese didn’t spoil her Vera Woof lace dress and her Chinese Crested groom, looking dapper in a tuxedo and top hat, really didn’t care. After all, this is normal doggy stuff despite the occasion.

Doggy weddings are very fashionable amongst the pet set. However, they first became headline material in August 2005 when former Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson arranged a wedding for her golden retriever Star and her Chihuahua, Luca on the beach in Malibu, California. They were getting to the “I dos”, when Kazakhstani TV journalist Borat (the alter ego of English movie star Sasha Baron Cohen ), wearing swim trunks, a leather jacket and a Village People-style cap arrived in a raft and literally crashed into the wedding party. He was unceremoniously dumped back into the sea by Anderson’s unamused security detail.

Fortunately, the Albert – Bridget affair was far less eventful!

“People treat their pets as children and having a commitment ceremony is just another way of expressing the wonderful human-animal bond,”says Stacey Witner, the dogs’ pet parent.

Albert, a rescue from an animal shelter met his bride when she was was relinquished by her former owners to a Belmont Shore, California pet store where Witner works.

“They bonded immediately,” recalls Witner. “It’s so cute the way they always look out for each other that I thought they should get married.”

So she turned to doggy wedding planners Scott Rinehart and Jim Poer of Wiskers Weddings to plan the nuptials.

“Destination weddings are very en vogue, ” says Rinehart. “So we planned a tropical beach wedding at Huntington Beach, California. “We set up a flower festooned arch on the sand and scattered a path with rose petals and long-stemmed red roses. Guests and their canines were seated on chairs set up on the sand and a guitarist strummed the canine couple down the aisle where an undenominational minister waited to greet them.

Specially written bow vows were read out which included promises to keep the dog bowl full of fresh water, to make sure there’s a biscuit on the bed every evening and a pledge to always run and play tug-o-war games with each other. The pups then exchanged bone-shaped biscuits which were immediately eaten and headed off to the dog park for official photographs and the reception.

“Witner asked us to keep it simple,” says Rinehart. “So we served a tiered peanut butter and carob wedding cake, a variety of dog biscuits and special doggy ice cream for dessert. They toasted each other with flavored dog water and human guests sipped champagne and nibbled on cheese and crackers. Then the pups jumped into their doggy stroller with a ‘Just Married’ sign on the back and rode off into the sunset.”

As with any special event, cost depends on the amount of creative imagination stamped on the occasion. Doggy event planners are definitely cashing in and taking advantage of pet owners with disposable incomes and grand ideas.

“You can spend anything from $400 to $10 000,” says Rinehart.

Sandy Mahoney and Sharon Bolger, the design team for the I See Spot label, based in Los Angeles, California is being hailed the Vera Wang and Monique L’hullier of pet bridal fashions.

“A lot of people are having weddings for their dogs and there’s a huge demand for pet bridal fashions highlighting lots of satin and lace and mermaid shapes. Fit is very important and we pay a lot of attention to detail,” says Maroney.

Their collection includes intricate bridal gowns with veils, a velvet tuxedo; a ring bearer T-shirt where bridal couples can attach their own rings for puppies to bring down the aisle. There are also Mother of the Bride and Always the Bridesmaid T-shirts for other canines in the retinue or wedding party.

Of course many couples are including dogs in their wedding parties too,” says Mahoney. “This trend is only increasing the demand.”

When TV personality Jillian Barberie married actor Grant Reynolds in a quiet poolside ceremony at her Tarzana, California home all her pets were an integral part of the occasion. Decked out in white bows, the dogs gathered at the couple’s feet while the cats kept a watchful eye nearby.

The beautiful TV anchor of the popular Good Morning LA program introduced a pet adoption slot on the show ten years ago and has been instrumental in finding homes for thousands of pets during that time frame.

“Naturally all my pets are rescues,” says Barberie. “For me its such a honor to win their respect and trust that they had to be a part of my special day. I would never have gotten married without them! In fact, when Grant and I said our ‘I do’s’, Willie my terrier mix was jumping up and down between us as if he was trying to stop Grant from marrying me and taking what he considered to be his place as head of the household!”

Barberie, dressed in a gorgeous Armani dress borrowed from her friend actress Heather Locklear, later posed for her official wedding photographs with her pets, totally unperturbed that they were leaving hair all over her classic designer gown.

The trend to include pets is also on the rise. According to Mindy Weiss the Beverly Hills, California-based wedding planner to the stars, these days about 30 per cent of her weddings involve pets. While a recent survey by the American Kennel Club confirmed that eighteen percent of dog owners surveyed said they either have included (or would include) their dog in their wedding ceremony.

Non-denominational minister Annemarie Juhlian of Seattle, Washington has officiated at more than a dozen weddings featuring dogs as the ring bearer or maid of honor.

“I know children and dogs are considered wild cards at weddings,” said Juhlian. “But I’m all for it. Dogs seem to have a wonderful calming effect on everyone’s wedding nerves. If they are well trained, they never upstage the bride. When they walk down the aisle, they are usually so pleased to see their favorite people standing waiting for them, their wagging tail and doggy smile simply adds to the joy of the occasion. I’d like to see more dogs in weddings because they make so many people happy. Of course they must be very patient. And they must respond to simple commands like ‘Sit.’ ‘Stay’ and ‘Come’.”

Doggy I Dos and Don’ts

If you’re getting married and plan to include fur kids in the retinue, make sure you are well groomed in wedding petiquette.

  1. •Check the venues for the ceremony and the reception allows pets.
  2. •Discuss Fido’s role in the ceremony with other key players such as parents and other members of the retinue to ensure no one is scared of dogs or allergic to dog hair!
  3. •It’s a good idea to have several practice runs at home before the final wedding rehearsal. Some dogs are well trained enough to come down the aisle on their own. Otherwise it’s a good idea to have them walk on a leash with someone they know.
  4. •A cute little flower girl and an Old English sheepdog may make a wonderful Kodak moment but ensure they match each other in weight otherwise the dog may sweep the child off her feet!
  5. •If you are planning to entwine fresh flowers on a leash or add a garland around your dog’s neck, avoid flowers that are toxic to animals like lily-of-the-valley, daffodils, narcissus, sweet peas and tulips. For a full list go to: .
  6. •Dogs are very intuitive and sometimes pick up on the nerves and emotions of the moment. Calming sprays like Comfort Zone help to calm doggy nerves.
  7. •Make sure canine members of the wedding party go for a walk and a bathroom break the ceremony begins.
  8. •When the ceremony is in progress, keep treats handy – just in case you need to distract an exuberant pup.
  9. •After the wedding vows, an elderly pet may be tired and prefer to be taken home rather than attend the reception. However, if you plan to let your pet be present, ask guests to refrain from slipping any tidbits under the table. When they’re excited, dogs tend to overeat and could get sick. Instead, provide special doggy cake and biscuits and lots of fresh water. There are some magnificent pet food bowls and drinking flutes that would easily match the elegance of the grandest occasion.
  10. •And if you are planning on having several doggy guests at the reception, it’s a good idea to have a pet sitter on hand to take charge.

Finally, what happens when the party is over? Does Fido get to go along on the honeymoon too?

Well, that’s a whole different ball game…


This article is from Modern Dog Magazine

Leave a Reply