VANCOUVER, Wash. — All eyes turned toward the aisle as “Here Comes the Bride” played from a portable stereo. The bride, resplendent in a white gown and lacy, pink-trimmed veil, walked to meet her groom, clad in a tuxedo and top hat.
He promised to always share his toys and let her eat first. She vowed to stop biting his legs so hard when they’re playing. And just like that, Carole and John Bigwood’s Yorkshire terriers Skylar and Rainbow were joined as dog and wife.
“I thought my daughter was nuts, but this is cute,” said Diane Rapier of Vancouver, Carole Bigwood’s mother and owner of groomsman Buddy, a 10-month-old Pomeranian.
The Bigwoods might have raised a few eyebrows with their elaborate doggie wedding, but they’re not alone. Such celebrations are in keeping with the general trend of people treating their pets like family, said Lisa Peterson, American Kennel Club spokeswoman.
“Things that we would normally do for ourselves we’re now starting to do for our pets,” Peterson said. “Having a doggie wedding is a fun thing to do … as a social event for other dogs and their owners.”
For the Bigwoods’ dogs, the nuptials had been a long time coming. Carole Bigwood started planning the ceremony about nine months ago, delaying it to breed Skylar, 2, and Rainbow, who turns 2 this month. So rather than get married in June, that’s when Rainbow gave birth to Ernie.
“The wedding was supposed to come first,” Bigwood said with a laugh.
But this way Ernie was able to see his mother and father pledge their eternal love to each other in front of family and friends in the Bigwoods’ garden in late August. Ernie was one of several groomsmen dressed in purple suits Bigwood made to match her bejeweled, reversible bridesmaid dresses.
“I stayed up all night finishing them,” said Bigwood, creator of the pet clothing and accessories line Wild Child Pet Fashions.
Rainbow’s attendants included 10-month-old Havanese Hanna as a bridesmaid, 2-month-old Chihuahua Coco as the flower girl and 2-year-old miniature dachshund Daisy Mae as maid of honor. Daisy Mae walked down the aisle with owner Sandy Peterson, followed closely by best man Chowder, a 3-year-old basset hound owned by Bigwood’s nephew, 11-year-old Riley Simmons. Buddy, Ernie and their handlers rounded out the processional.
After the vows, which Carole and John Bigwood read on behalf of Rainbow and Skylar, respectively, the party really got started. “Who Let the Dogs Out?” played as the newlyweds and their canine guests ran around the yard sniffing and playing while their human friends looked on happily.
Then came time for the refreshments. Carole Bigwood and friend Alicia Bell made a cake for the four-legged guests out of wet and dry dog food and dog bones.
“The dogs loved that. They were in dog heaven,” Carole Bigwood said.
Since the gathering also served as an early 45th birthday party for Carole, the Bigwoods bought a three-tiered cake for their human guests. They used figurines of two Yorkies kissing as the cake topper.
And as for her real dogs, Carole Bigwood thinks they had an enjoyable — albeit exhausting — day.
“I think they had fun. They’ve never had so many people in the back yard before,” she said. “But they were really tired after. They crawled into my bed and slept for a few hours. I took a picture and said, ‘Oh, it’s the honeymoon photo.’”