Picture it: A tiny church festooned with pink and white lilies. Family and friends hush as Mendelssohn’s Wedding March begins to play. Ah! Here comes the bride and her dog in matching outfits…
According to Mindy Weiss, the Beverly Hills, California celebrity wedding planner, about 30 per cent of her lavish weddings involve pets. While a recent survey published by the American Kennel Club confirms that eighteen percent of dog owners surveyed said they either have included (or would include) their dog in their wedding ceremony.
Add to this new trend coming down the aisle the increase in pet wedding and commitment ceremonies and its no wonder the pet wedding fashion business is booming!
Part of this explosion of satin and lace is due to the fact that wedding designers for humans are crossing over and designing for pets too.
“People no longer want a little white dress,” says Carol Blanchette of Emma Rose designs. “They want the hold nine yards.”
Well, a 12-foot silk train embellished with hand-sewn crystals to be precise. Blanchette designed such a frothy creation and presented it on the runway at Pet Fashion Week in New York last August.
Five years ago, Blanchette of Rhode Island, New York, a well known designer of bridal gowns and formal wear, found that clients were asking her to design matching wedding outfits for their pooches too.
“I could never have anticipated the huge demand that’s happened in a relatively short period of time,” she says.
Apart from her signature outfits that include a veil and garter, there is also a huge demand for Tuxedos, and outfits for ring-bearing hounds as well as flower girl outfits.
“Naturally I focus on fabrics that are light weight and easy to wear. Also having a long train is all very well, but it’s designed to be removed so that the dog can run about and have fun too.”
To date, Blanchette’s most expensive pooch bridal gowns cost $12 000. It was made from imported Chantilly lace and took nine months to bead to match the bride’s own gown.
And to critics who question the practicality and the price tag, Blanchette simply states that “over the top” means different things to different people.
Interestingly, a popular wedding color for pet attendants is yellow. “Who would have thought?” says Blanchette. “Pink is such a perennial color when it comes to pets. I guess it’s because yellow is such a happy color and works well on both male and female dogs. I’ve made quite a few yellow tuxedos and bowties.”
“I stock basic wedding wear,” says Scott Rinehart of Wiskers in Long Beach, California. “But I can order whatever customers ask for from anywhere. They appreciate this as it saves them the trouble.”
Rinehart has plans pet weddings and once again will customize and create whatever he’s asked to do.
Jeannie Cohen of Roadwagz in Los Angeles, California is another crossover from mainstream formalwear. The family business, Hollyvogue specializes in men’s formal attire and Cohen says that the company has simply met the growing demand for doggy cummerbunds and bowties.
“There’s so much out there in the line of dresses, we decided to extend out expertise for male formal pet wear. Our wedding bibs are attached to very comfortable T-shirts and accessorized with velvet or satin bowties. We also meet the demand with a huge selection of colors.”
Jewelry of course is the must-have accessory for weddings. Delicate pearl necklaces are the order of the day,” says Lisa Stienmeyer of Phoebe’s Phashions. Also pearls with a paw-shaped charm are very popular as a gift for pet attendants to commemorate the occasion.
And of course nothing says “wedding” just like a tiara! Dorothy Bauer of Dorothy Bauer designs has more than eight different styles in sterling silver and hand-set Swarovski crystals. They are attached to a velvet-covered ring that sits comfortable on the pet’s head and has ties that go over the ears and fastens under the chin just like a hat. “Consequently they are both comfortable and secure on the wearer’s head,” explains Bauer.
“I have yet to design rings for a doggie bridal couple to exchange,” says Paul Bierker of Bark Avenue Jewelers. “But I guess it will eventually be on the cards”, he adds with a laugh. “Interestingly I haven’t been asked to design a keepsake gift of a doggy ring bearer either. There’s no question that a customized bone-shaped charm with pearls or diamonds and engraved on the back with the details of the occasion would make a stunning memento of the occasion.”
And the price tag?
“Well, anything from $400 to $4000.” says Bierker, whose beautiful designs are very popular with dog owners themselves.
According to Jamie Bakke of Pampered Paws Boutique in Kingwood, Texas, there is a huge demand for customized outfits for weddings to be worn for both human and pet ceremonies.
“ At least 75 per cent of our customers want something custom made,” says Bakke.
“Customers come to us with a picture, or they’ll call us from a fabric stores and say they found this beautiful fabric and we work with them to create an outfit to match the bride’s or that of attendants in the wedding party. And yes, wedding ceremonies for dogs are very much on the increase. If nothing else, it’s a lovely excuse for a party.”
As with most fashions, when it comes to pet wedding wear, there’s a huge demand for pet à porter wear too.
Sandy Maroney and her design partner Sharon Bolger, of I See Spot in Los Angeles, California are the “David’s Bridal” of the pet world. Apart from bridal gowns and velvet tuxedos, their collection includes Mother of the Bride and Always the Bridesmaid T-shirts for other canines in the wedding party.
“The one thing where pet wearers score over their human counterparts is that their wedding outfits can be worn over and over again and no one will comment other than to say they look cute,” says Maroney.
Of course the other big bridal trend is the destination wedding and, if customers have passports and blank checks, there’s no reason why pet retailers can’t offer this service too!
Harrods, London’s famous department store is now offering pooches the opportunity to exchange collars and vows at a special “wedding chapel” in the Knightsbridge store. For $5 000 excluding airfares, the Puppy Love Package includes pooch designer bride and groom wedding outfits, a wedding ceremony, a dog-friendly wedding cake, a marriage certificate, a champagne reception for 20 human guests at the Harrods Restaurants and a luxury honeymoon for the newly weds at the exclusive Paw Seasons Dog Hotel in Kent, in the English countryside. Another $2 000 buys a horse-drawn carriage with a “Just Married” sign and photographers on hand to freeze-frame those magic moments for a wedding album.
Howly Muttrimony – Mass Doggy Wedding
More than 300 pooches are expected to show up for mass doggy wedding on May 19, 2007 in Littleton Colorado. The event is a fundraiser for the Denver Dumb Friends League. At $50 a donation per doggy couple, this canine wedding is significantly cheaper than a trip down the aisle for the average human bride and groom.
Doggy grooms will receive a special bowtie to wear during the ceremony, and brides will each don a veil. Owners will be given a dog tag as a wedding gift to remember the special day and photographers. A reception with food and snacks for human and doggy participants will follow. There’s won’t be any lawyers to pen pooch pre-nups, and dogs that don’t have a partner can participate in a round of speed dating before the ceremony to find the perfect mate.
The event will take place 2 p.m. at the Aspen Grove Lifestyle Center, 7301 S. Santa Fe Dr. For more information to go shopaspengrove.com .