Love is in the air. So is Dander.

Learn more about the wedding boom in 2022 in our ongoing Year of Marriage series.

On December 4, 2021, Twixie and Cowboy, both 2-year-old Brussels Griffons, were married at the bride’s home in Dallas (Twixie), in the backyard. She wore a lace applique bodice with a tulle ruffle layered at the waist. The groom donned a handmade cotton and silk tuxedo and top hat.

In front of a makeshift chapel erected for the occasion, a ceremony was conducted by Sam Palmeter, whose Brussels Griffon, Grinch, was present and is a friend of the couple. Fig, another Brussels Griffon, served as flower girl.

Later, the four-legged guests enjoyed a meal of puppy food from Vestals Catering in Dallas (which also hosts events for humans), plus a puppuccino bar and activities including a ball pit.

The nuptials cost around $25,000. Twixie owner Tara Helwig, 37, a Dallas fitness trainer, and Cowboy owner Makayla Wilson, 22, an epidemiological data analyst in Phoenix, split the bill.

The two and their dogs met at a griffin hangout in Brussels in February 2021. The dogs quickly became “boyfriend and girlfriend”, said Ms Helwig, who began planning the wedding with Ms Wilson after that the owners and their animals have gone to the other. .

Of the 40 Brussels Griffons invited, 37 were present. “It turned out way bigger than expected,” Ms Helwig said.

Ms Wilson, who took care of the guest list, said she and Ms Helwig were planning to have ‘the most epic dog wedding ever’.

“We weren’t just going to do a photoshoot,” she added. “We wanted to do more than that.”

Celebrate a union of two animals, or even an animal and a human, is not a new concept. But as the pandemic forced many human couples to put ceremonies on hold, more and more people began to “think outside the box and write their own rules, and that’s especially true when it comes to weddings. pets,” said Hannah Nowack, wedding editor. The Knot scheduling and registration website.

Last June, employees of Village Pet Supplies & Gifts in Lucerne, Pennsylvania, organized the “Holy Catrimonia” of Toby and Noelle, two local cats, at the store. Noelle’s owner, Melissa Sulima, an attorney in Pittston, Pennsylvania, came up with the idea after her cat fell in love with Toby, who lives at Village Pet Supplies, in videos shared on her Facebook page.

After a string of successful in-person dates, all of the humans who witnessed their chemistry agreed the cats went together, “and it just blew up from there,” said Ms Sulima, 42, who adopted Noelle in 2019 from Rescue Warriors Rescue Cat in West Pittston, Pennsylvania.

The couple were taken to their wedding on June 19 inside a red wagon. Noelle wore a dress handmade by a co-founder of Rescue Warriors, and a Village Pet Supplies employee led a ceremony that included the recitation of the vows of the two cats. Afterwards, cupcakes and cider were served to the 40 human guests.

“They had decorated it beautifully,” Ms Sulima said of the venue. “I was dazzled.” She added that the two felines had only been married for six months: last December, Noelle died suddenly of complications from hyperthyroidism; she was thought to be around 7 years old.

Despite efforts to find another mate for 10-year-old Toby, Mrs. Sulima believes he will never remarry. “Toby was Noelle’s husband until the day he died,” she said.

To attend the cats’ wedding, human guests were asked to donate $15 to Rescue Warriors. Philanthropy was also behind a massive dog wedding in September 2021 at Lions Park in Villa Park, Illinois, where 80 couples tied the knot – just under half of the 178 couples who wed during a 2007 event in Littleton, Colo. , which marked the largest canine wedding ceremony, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Leslie Allison-Seei, 61, president of a lottery and promotions agency in Villa Park, organized the nuptials in part to support rescues in the area at a time when some had started seeing more pets abandoned.

At the start of the pandemic, “shelters emptied out because people went out and adopted dogs,” said Ms Allison-Seei, who volunteers with Northern Illinois Samoyed Assistance, one of 10 rescues that have received a donation after the event. “But when people started going back to work, they fired those dogs.”

After paying a $25 registration fee, the dogs (and their owners) arrived at the wedding to find a roving photographer and a flower-covered arch, where Villa Park Village Council President Nick Cuzzone led a ceremony.

Before Mr. Cuzzone announced the marriage of the dogs, those who arrived as bachelors or celibates had the opportunity to meet potential life partners in an area designated for “dog speed dating”, said Mrs. Allison-Seei, whose 3-year-old Husky, Brack, married Boo, a 5-year-old Samoyed, that day.

“It was spectacular,” said Ms. Allison-Seei, chair of the Villa Park Community Focus on Unifying Neighbors Commission.

Besides raising awareness and funds for rescues, recent animal weddings have also boosted business for some vendors who have struggled due to the pandemic.

Lynne Correia, 60, who runs a made-to-order pet clothing business called Lil’ Pup Shop from her home in East Providence, RI, said she was contacted to make Twixie and Cowboy’s wedding outfits at a when many other customers had been canceling orders.

“I was thrilled,” Ms. Correia said. “I love dressing brides and grooms doggy style, and I hadn’t done that in a while.” The exposure she gained through their marriage led to even more commissions, added Ms Correia, who described 2022 as “my busiest year yet”.

Jennifer Whaley, 49, owner of Collect Portraits in Chicago, said she was asked to photograph the dog’s wedding in Villa Park after her studio lost business in 2020 due to closures. As well as meeting animals who later became customers, Ms Whaley has since been asked to photograph another mass ceremony in October.

“Who wouldn’t?” she says. “It was one of the most enjoyable experiences I’ve ever had as a business owner.”

As with any wedding, experts say anyone planning a ceremony for pets or animals should put the needs of the couple first.

“If they don’t like being dressed up or find crowds of strangers stressful, it’s best to skip the wedding dresses, the guest list and anything else that would make them uncomfortable,” Ingrid Newkirk , president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said in a statement.

In considering their needs, others note that companionship should not be neglected. Ellie Laks, the founder of the animal sanctuary The nice barnarranged a wedding between two cows, Dudley and Destiny, at her facility in Christiana, Tennessee, in 2016. Ms Laks, 54, likened their relationship to a “storybook” romance, explaining that , if animals could talk, many may choose to say “yes” for the same reasons as humans.

“Humans and animals have the same desire for love and friendship, the same ability to feel sadness, happiness and fear, and the same need for a good life,” she said.

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