Pets & Animals

'You may sniff the bride': New movie celebrates dog weddings

Dexter’s marriage fizzled shortly after the wedding, but it’s OK. Really. He’s in a good place.

That's because Dexter is a cocker spaniel. And, like most dogs, cocker spaniels are masters of living in the moment and sniffing out new adventures.

“He’s moved on and he’s with a blonde now,” said a chuckling Carol Bryant, Dexter’s human mom and a veteran pet blogger who arranged Dexter’s dog wedding for charity. “His marriage sure was good while it lasted, though.”

Luminaria Photography
Dexter the cocker spaniel got VERY gussied for his wedding to a dog named Zoe.

Bryant said Dexter’s “pawnuptials” were a blast — far less drama-infused than many human weddings, in fact. And the blissful memories from that day just keep on giving: Dexter is one of dozens of dogs who won a photo contest and got tapped to make cameo appearances during the opening credits of “The Dog Wedding.”

The movie — playing in New York now and opening in Los Angeles on Friday — chronicles the quirky saga of two bulldogs, Prince and Queenie, who hit it off at a dog park and irresistibly dash toward a dog wedding of their own. In the process, their human parents — a stressed-out German businesswoman tasked by her father with wringing efficiencies out of a pickle empire, and a burly, tattooed American wrestler grieving the death of his mother — fall in love.

"The Dog Wedding"
"The Dog Wedding" stars Matt Bloom as wrestler Matthew "The Manimal" Pierce, who connects with German businesswoman Ulrika Schmidt, played by Rosalie Thomass.

Although “The Dog Wedding” is fictional, the movie’s existence confirms that dog weddings are most definitely a thing.

  • Slideshow Photos

    Courtesy of @thegoobsterny/Instagram

    Holy muttrimony! Here are 29 photos of dog 'pawnuptials'

    See some of the adorable winning entries from "The Dog Wedding" movie's photo contest.

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    Carol Bryant's cocker spaniel Dexter is pictured on his wedding day in 2013. This photo is among dozens that won a photo contest and appeared in the opening credits of “The Dog Wedding” movie.

    Luminaria Photography
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    A-Rod and Bailey's photo also appeared during the opening credits of "The Dog Wedding" movie. More than 500 photos of dogs in wedding attire from 41 states and 12 countries got considered for the honor; 100 canine couples won the photo contest.

    Courtesy of Rai Wang and Eddie Yee
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    Betty is pictured in her wedding gown. "Dogs are family," said Dena Simons, wedding coordinator for "The Dog Wedding." "People across the world are giving them — and themselves! — their special day."

    Courtesy of Christine Reynolds Garofalo
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    Bocker's dapper wedding-day look landed him a spot in the opening credits of "The Dog Wedding" movie.

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    Brie and Bentley make such a great couple. 

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    Bruce and Harvey both looked amazing in their tuxedos on their wedding day.

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    Star-crossed paws: Chloe and Bruno are pictured together on their wedding day.

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    Celebrity rescue dog Chloe Kardoggian can be seen hamming it up in the opening credits of "The Dog Wedding" movie.

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    Colby and Maggie could hardly contain their joy during their wedding-day photo shoot.

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    Doris and Frank stayed veeeeery still so their wedding photos would turn out nice.

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    Fido was so happy on this day of days.

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    Hugo and Evvie stayed chipper and attentive despite the long receiving line.

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    Jasper and Jasmine make a delightful pair.

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    Lulu had never looked so ravishing.

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    Oliver and Homer opted for seaside nuptials.

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    Peanut and Duke gave a whole new meaning to the phrase, "You may now lick the bride."

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    Pete and Tally, together at last.

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    Prince William looked almost as dashing as his human counterpart on his wedding day.

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    They don't call this glamorous dog Roux Magnolia for nothin'.

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    Some said their love would never last. Samson and Chloe knew otherwise.

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    Sawyer and Dex invited their closest family and friends to witness their special day.

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    Sebastian and Luna looked ravishing together, as always.

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    Simon the Blind Pug landed a spot in the opening credits of "The Dog Wedding" movie.

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    Sir Charles Barkley knew just how good he looked on his special day.

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    Stella and Chester were thrilled to see their wedding day turn out to be just as magical as they had hoped.

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    Like many pooches on their wedding day, Taffy and Sam enjoyed a special dog-safe cake.

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    Tasha and Cuba had a blast getting all gussied together.

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    Rescue “ambassadogs” Titus and Hailey made people swoon when they tied the knot in 2013. 

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    Venus and Paco knew they could pull off a classic, vintage look.

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“Dogs are family,” Dena Simons, wedding coordinator for “The Dog Wedding,” told TODAY. “People across the world are giving them — and themselves! — their special day.”

But … why?

Lots of reasons, but one tends to rise above the rest: Charity. Bryant has attended four dog weddings, and she said many of the events double as effective fundraisers for animal rescue groups and shelters. Dexter’s 2013 “Wigglebutt Wedding,” for one, raised money for Oldies But Goodies Cocker Rescue.

“The face of pet rescue has changed, and these are the things you need to do to get people’s attention,” Bryant said. “And people love it! They love to see their pets dressed up, and they love to do things with their pets. They don’t want to leave them at home all the time.”

The most lavish dog wedding ever thrown (with an estimated price tag of more than $270,000, it garnered a Guinness World Record) also raised money and awareness for charity. The brainchild of lifestyle expert and animal advocate Wendy Diamond, the 2012 union of Baby Hope Diamond (a Coton de Tulear) and Chilly Pasternak (a Virginia poodle) benefited the Humane Society of New York — and blew people’s minds.

www.animalfair.com
Jake Pasternak and Chilly, left, and Wendy Diamond and Baby Hope, right, pose for photos on their epic dog wedding day, which was all about charity. “Most of the wedding elements were donated,” Guinness World Records noted.

The philanthropic fete raised enough money to pay for a critical care wing at the Humane Society in honor of Lucky Diamond, another of Diamond's rescue dogs, who died of spleen cancer.

“Chilly and Baby Hope’s wedding is a perfect marriage,” Diamond said. “They don’t live or sleep together — they just promote animal welfare together!”

Other dog weddings have been making headlines in recent years for their size, scope and star appeal. When John Legend and Chrissy Teigen’s dogs Puddy and Pippa got hitched for charity last year, Legend serenaded them with his hit song “All of Me.”

Rescue “ambassadogs” Titus and Hailey made people swoon when they united in holy muttrimony in 2013.

Courtesy of Laura Morgillo
Before his adoption, Titus had been found on the streets of the Bronx with mange and a broken back leg. Hailey is a rescued pit bull from Virginia. Unlike the players in many dog weddings, these two really do live together and love each other.

Likewise, Instagram celebrities and puppy mill survivors Toast and Finn nearly broke the Internet earlier this year with wedding vows that included zingers like “Speak now, or forever hold your pee.”

Events like these aren’t limited to the United States, either. Just this month, 5,000 people attended a dog wedding in India.

Not all dog weddings are as attention-grabbing. Bryant, 47, of Pennsylvania, said many are arranged by dog-loving folks who just want to have a howling good time, and many take place in backyards. (After all, dog-friendly wedding-reception venues can be hard to find.)

Luminaria Photography
Here comes ... the cutest dog wedding cake ever! This special dog-safe confection was created by Bubba Rose for the marriage of dogs Dexter and Zoe.

“A lot of us don’t have kids or don’t want kids, or our kids are grown and gone, and some people don’t get married themselves,” Bryant said. “This can be a way to live vicariously through your dog.

“If you’re a dog person, you don’t feel odd when you attend one of these. You’re around other people like you. It’s fun!”

The wedding Bryant planned for Dexter included a decked-out doggie bridal party with a maid of honor, a best man, four bridesmaids and four groomsmen. The bride and groom exchanged dog tags instead of rings, and the groom was invited to “sniff the bride.”

Luminaria Photography
The full wedding party assembled and laughed together right before the marriage of dogs Dexter and Zoe. The dog wedding was a charity benefit.

At one point Dexter stepped on his new wife Zoe’s train — and her entire dress fell off.

“People thought it was planned,” Bryant said. “But you couldn’t plan that!”

Carol Bryant
Dexter drifted away from his first wife shortly after his "wedding" and fell for Coco Chanel Bella, the blonde pictured on the left. (Coco Chanel Bella's mom is Christine Aiello.)

Simons of “The Dog Wedding” movie said even the most low-key dog weddings tend to draw smiling, photo-snapping crowds.

“The most important thing to know about dog weddings you learn from the beaming smiles on the faces of the pet parents, guests and passersby,” Simons said. “Participants enjoy it as a way to celebrate their love for their best friends.”

To find out where to see “The Dog Wedding” in New York and Los Angeles, visit TheDogWedding.com. The movie also is available on demand on iTunes, FiOS and Dish Network. Portions of proceeds are being donated to dog charities, including Long Island Bulldog Rescue, Canine Companions for Independence and MSPCA-Angell.

TODAY.com writer and editor Laura T. Coffey is the author of "My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts." Connect with Laura on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ and at MyOldDogBook.com.

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