When photographer and friend Danielle Rivera broached the idea of throwing her two dogs a wedding in 2014, Confetti & Co. owner Sara Murray was immediately into it.
“At that point, we were all childless,” Murray said. “It felt like the best possible thing, for all of us to bring our fur-children out and do something like this.”
Murray went all out with the fun and silly concept, aided by friends and local business owners who offered everything from stationery and bow ties to dog-edible cake and watercolor portraits. For Murray, it was a way to try her hand at doing a petite-scaled event, a formula the wedding planner had never worked with before.
But when Rivera posted the ceremony’s video online, the first and only puptials Murray ever oversaw went viral — and nearly scored her a TV gig.
“After that shoot, producers reached out to us about doing a dog wedding TV show, and we were like, ‘Thanks for reaching out. I don’t know if that’s the direction our careers are going in, but we appreciate your positive feedback,’ ” Murray said, with a laugh. “I mean, we thought it was cute, but I wasn’t about to make it a career.”
Dog weddings like the one Murray helped plan have been on the rise for at least a decade, and not just among dedicated dog owners. The event has also been adopted by those wanting to fund-raise for causes they care about. That spirit of giving is behind this weekend’s dog wedding and major fund-raising event for area nonprofit PAWS for People.
On Saturday, Aug. 10, PAWS therapy dogs Frangelica, a Maltese-Yorkie-Cairn mix, and the Great Pyrenees mix Shaggydog, will be married in a public ceremony at Media’s Rose Tree Park. Throughout the day, three dog rescues can help you find your next great fur-friend, and the purchase of a $1 PAWS Draw raffle ticket will offer access to time in the doggy kissing booth. The event will also feature face painting, gently used dog toys, auction items, and bake sale sweets for man and his best friend.
Complete with ceremony staples like flower wreaths and bow ties, the wedding will also include an 11-dog bridal party and be officiated by a recently retired judge from the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas.
The wedding itself will happen at noon, with live music, a DJ, and both dog and human-friendly cakes, but beginning at 11 a.m., area dogs (on leashes) and their well-trained owners can check out 55 vendors, including Rayleen’s Sweets and Treats and Bow-Tie Atticus. While browsing, four food trucks, including Rigatoni’s Crab Cakes and Plum Pit Food Truck, will be on-site to grab a quick bite.
Proceeds from the raffle events will go to PAWS for People, a pet-therapy organization that operates in southern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. The organization trains and certifies teams of human and animal volunteers to work with people in the community and more specific venues like prisons, hospitals, skilled-care centers, and elementary schools.
If you don’t think going to Frangelica and Shaggydog’s wedding this weekend will be enough, and you might want to throw your pup a wedding bash of their own, Sara Murray has a few tips to help you make it the perfect day.
Some like a classic look, some like floral, and some even like Star Wars. Regardless of what theme or apparel style you go for, Murray says there are plenty of options for what to wear, and wedding planners (both of the human and canine-client variety) prefer to “customize to what the client’s personal taste is.”
Tutus, full dog tuxedos and dresses, or collarless are options for dogs’ attire on their big day. Collars or specialized tags can also be used in exchange of rings.
Where dogs gets hitched can be as important as what they’re wearing and their wedding cake. So when choosing a location, be sure that whatever venue you use, it won’t have a problem with a bunch of furry partygoers and their basic needs. Murray suggest places outside, like parks.
“It definitely needs to be dog-friendly,” Murray said. “But it also needs to have easy access to outside so that the dogs can, obviously, go to the bathroom.”
Murray said her friend Rivera’s puppy wedding had a cocktail hour, a wedding cake, and a few bites. The Philadelphia wedding planner suggests buying a custom cake from Amelie’s Bark Shop in South Philly. You can also create cocktails, but check to make sure the drink is safe for your dog.
Whatever’s on the menu, the way to serve it should be appropriate for the married couple.
“For a dog wedding, there’s no reason why they can’t eat off of plates. That’s cute and funny," Murray said. "But also, you could do something that’s more eco-friendly and biodegradable, since a dog’s mouth is going to be on it, or custom dog bowls.”
Just because your dog’s a — well, dog — it doesn’t mean they can’t get spruced up. Take them to the groomer, get them a wash, blow dry, and cut. Don’t forget a good nail and teeth cleaning, and try to stay away from nail polish. Whatever you do, make sure your pup looks polished.