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10 Things I Learned at My Dog's Wedding (You Read That Right)

My dog recently tied the knot. That sounds nuts, but it was for a very good cause!

 |  Jul 5th 2013  |   19 Contributions

My dog got married in the name of love, rescue, fund-raising, and so that dogs who have been abused, neglected, and abandoned can find their forever homes.

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The Wigglebutt Wedding party in all our glory.

On Friday evening, June 28, my dog, Dexter James Bryant, took the paw of his bride, Zoe Elizabeth Sorensen, and were united in holy "muttrimony," all in the name of love and giving back. Dubbed the "Wigglebutt Wedding," this gala event consumed my heart, soul, and free hours for pretty much the last nine months -- and we're getting ready to do it all over again.

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Dexter and Zoe wearing exclusive fashions designed by Anthony Rubio canine couturier.

We spent nine months planning and organizing so that every detail could be covered. These days, being creative at fund-raising is the norm. Sure, lemonade stands and car washes still work, but if you want media and dog lovers to perk up and tilt their heads sideways -- and if you want to raise bucks for dogs in need -- you need to be different. A dog wedding certainly fits the definition of "different."

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All set with my dog wedding hair updo: Ready to paw-ty!!

What started out as an idea to have a small backyard wedding to raise funds for Life’s Little Paws, who rescued the bride the day she was scheduled to be euthanized, evolved into a full-scale formal affair covered by media, resplendent with sponsors and ripe with celebrities in the dog world. We even had a canine artist, Missy Johnson of Dogs for the Paws, create our official logo.

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The blushing bride captured hearts and was saved from the jaws of death.

I'd be lying if I told you that amidst the hard work and the nearly dozen trips from Pennsylvania to Connecticut that I was not having fun. A sense of pride swelled in me throughout, surrounding myself with bridal magazines and sponsor forms; sitting with the mother of the bride and caterer, Val Sorensen; and seeing our Cocker Spaniels walking down the aisle in canine couture to rival Oscar night.

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Proud dog moms, Val and Carol pose with the happy "pupple"

Here are ten things I learned about hosting a dog wedding for fund-raising. Hopefully you can learn from my trials, tribulations, and a few mistakes.

1. Remind people why a wedding for dogs is happening in the first place

Tug at the heartstrings and quell any naysayers. It no longer bothers me when folks shake their heads and roll their eyes in response to learning of a dog wedding. Besides, this is the reason for the pomp and circumstance:

2. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone

Planning an event of this magnitude means putting yourself forward and asking for help. If you are totally new to this, Google "dog product companies" and the like. Folks who stepped up to be a part of the Wigglebutt Wedding came out of the woodworks and continue to be extraordinarily supportive. Canine couturier, Anthony Rubio, created the wedding attire.

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For the bride, Zoe wore a breathtaking, voluminous bridal gown of traditional fair complete with wedding veil. For the groom, Dexter wore a coordinating tuxedo, a true sight of sophistication. Both garments were made of silk featuring elaborate floral cut-outs, trimmed in tiny pearls. The gown also featured handcrafted cap sleeves adorned with teardrop pearls. Inspired by sixties fashion, the veil was attached to a classic pill box hat.

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I color coordinated my gown with Dexter's tuxedo, which complimented the bride's gown.

3. Have fun with the process

Yes, two dogs are getting hitched. Yes, this is for dog rescue. Keep it light and lovely and engage the services of an officiant. Stewie to the Rescue founder Harris Bloom recited the official vows, including:

"Marriage is not to be entered unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently and solemnly, and with as many canines in attendance as possible. This is true whether the marriage is between two humans, or as we have this evening, two Cocker Spaniels."

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Officiant, Harris Bloom, says cheese with feline guest, Coco, and cat mom, Teri Thorsteinson

"Do you Dexter James Bryant take Zoe Elizabeth Sorensen to be your canine wife? Do you paw-mise to love and cherish her, sharing your squeaky ball collection and beloved bones for as long as you both shall live?"

For Dexter, I said, "I do!"

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Dexter decided the altar was comfy for a nap.

"Do you Zoe Elizabeth Sorensen take Dexter James Bryant to be your canine husband? Do you paw-mise to cherish him, share your tissues and your favorite toy, bake for him as Domestic Dogdess, and give him the occasional break from humping that you initiate?"

The brid's mom said, "I do!" for Zoe.

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Bridesmaid, Holly, in her Spoiled Pup Boutique couture

4. When in Rome, do as the Romans

Let them eat cake, dress to the nines, and ask folks to go grand scale with you.

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Dogs dined on delicious canine cake from Bubba Rose Biscuit Company while a hand crafted cake topper from Lucy Maloney adorned the top of the cake.

Many guests report that this event was the finest and most glamorous wedding they ever attended, human or canine. I wore a dress from a boutique, as did the mother of the bride. 

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Cutting the cake and having a ball with the dogs

After interviewing the superstar Pug Loca for Dogster, we became online pals, and Loca sent a video all the way from Ireland, which we played on a big screen at the venue:

5. Allow dog guests to be on premises but have limits and rules in place

Not to be a party pooper, but to maintain a smoothly run event, we capped the number of guests of the human and canine variety to 120 people and 50 dogs (oh, and three cats). We exceeded that a bit, but we never went far beyond. Dogs and people were much happier and there were no dog fights, accidents, or issues. In fact, this was the smoothest wedding of which I have ever been a part.

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Seems like we have a wedding hook up here between Andrea and Garth Riley

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Rose the Pug glammed up with her mom for the Wigglebutt Wedding

6. Have a DJ, a caterer, and a photographer

These three people will become your three best friends. Mike Guariglia from Touch of Class DJ had the crowds dancing -- some on four legs, too. Kiss-the-Chef Catering provided a fabulous spread, and Luminaria Photography snapped away so we could enjoy the evening.

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Who are you wearing?

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Yes, these are silk florals in the exact likeness of Dexter and Zoe. Table Art Event Designs is a genius company.

I must say, I was in iPhone withdrawal. I am a noted (and sometimes annoying) photo taker, but I relinquished my camera and let the expert take control. Many times, providers like these will work with you for barter or a lower price so that they can help your cause. Such was the case with all three of these key players.

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Doggie dancing in their Doodie Pack duds, Mayzie and Ally shake a, paw

7. Select a rescue group to benefit

Make sure you plan well, determining how much to charge guests; what money will be used for goods, supplies and rental fees; and then what will be left over for the rescue. 

At the price of $50 a head, all funds raised went to Life's Little Paws Rescue Group. All guests received a fun evening, a program, a champagne souvenir flute, and a goodie bag full of sponsor bling. Start planning early: This is a long process but so rewarding.

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Superstar in the dog world, Bocker T. Labradoodle, poses with his mom, Marie Shelto, at Wigglebutt Wedding

8. Have a bridal party, complete with outfits for each member

Have you ever been to a wedding without a bridesmaid, best man, and a few bridal party members? Thanks to Spoiled Pup Boutique, all bridal party members were beautifully dressed in colors of the wedding -- shades of plum and blue. Plenty of "oohs" and "ahhs" could be heard cascading over the rental hall.

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Best man and brother of the groom, Ricky shows off his Spoiled Pup Boutique grape vest

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Mimi Mott Johnson brought Guinness to the gala, in her custom dress and Mad Dog Hatter hat.

9. Be prepared for the unexpected and laugh when it happens

After the happy couple said their puptuals, the DJ cued the song "Marry You" by Bruno Mars and officiant Harris Bloom introduced "Mr and Mrs. Dexter James Bryant." Zoe proceeded to walk down the ramp and Dex stepped on her gown. I kid you not, the entire lower portion came off (because it had Velcro sections for changeability). Apparently, Dex was starting the honeymoon early. We laughed and hoped our videographer caught that on camera.

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Hanging with friends at the after party and Wigglebutt Weekend fun

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Someone, hold up a treat! Posing are (left to right) brothers Ricky, McGee, Dexter the groom, and Patches

10. Plan a fun-filled weekend around the event

After the last fleck of confetti was swept away, our group still had a flurry of activity ahead of us. On Saturday, we did a photo shoot with famed canine photographer Paul Nathan, and the host hotel, Homewood Suites in Stratford, provided us with a tarped room for the dogs to play and the guests to have lunch, laugh, and reflect.

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Move over Lady Gaga, Coco Channel Belle is in town

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He's a Yankee Doodle Dandy. Mr. America and his mom showed the Wigglebutts how big dogs party.

So now we are in the process of readying to plan our 2014 event. If you decide to throw a fun fund-raiser, be creative and know that dogs in need will be helped by your efforts.

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A champagne toast with souvenir flute was a part of the evening fun

Have you ever held a creative fund-raiser or attended a dog wedding? Bark at me in the comments below!

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