10/27/2009 at 05:39 PM EDT
Carole Bigwood sewed the white wedding dress, baked the wedding cake and beamed as her little baby girl walked down the aisle to meet her tuxedoed groom as "Here Comes the Bride" strained through the speakers.
So what made this wedding different from your average nuptials? It was her two dogs getting hitched – all in the name of fun! Dog nuptials – as silly as they might seem – are growing in popularity, as owners look for ways to create lasting memories with the animals they consider part of the family.
"People do these events because they're joyful," pet expert Diana L. Guerrero, author of Blessing of the Animals
tells PEOPLEPets.com. "People don't take it seriously at all. It's just a way people celebrate having pets in their lives."
Bigwood confesses that she spent about $2,000 on the nuptials for her two 2-year-old Yorkshire terriers, Skyler and Rainbow, which took place in the back yard of her Washington state home. The event included an eight-dog wedding party – all in full wedding regalia – and two weddings cakes: one for the dogs and one for the humans. The dogs, of course, were served first.
During the ceremony, the two Yorkies professed their eternal love for one another with some help from their owners. Bigwood wrote the vows, which included lines like, "When it's time for a treat I will let you have the first one" and "I promise to give you big wet kisses every night." After the ceremony, the wedding party recessed to – what else? – "Who Let the Dogs Out."
"It was a cute event and I'm really glad I did it," Bigwood, who also owns Wild Child Pet Fashions, tells PEOPLEPets.com. "Even though some people might think you're crazy, it creates a nice memory. When they're no longer around it gives you something to remember them by."
Jennifer Bassman owns Wuf Pet Resort
and Spa in Dallas and organized a mass pooch wedding back in June with about 40 doggie couples. Each ceremony included a marriage license with a stamped paw print and an exchange of biscuits. There was also a group cutting of the doggie cake and a cocktail toast to wish all the couples well. Wedding favors included Harry Winston and Dom Perignon squeaky toys.
"I think everyone feels silly in the moment, but it's such a memorable moment for people and their pets," said Bassman. "Plus, if a divorce happens they can always find new love next year."
Mike Krouskos says he's not worried about his two Yorkies, Bo and Roxy, separating. They wed at Bassman's ceremony and still spend nearly every waking moment together. He said Roxy looked lovely in her white gown and veil, although Bo apparently preferred to wed in the buff – because they could only keep his bowtie on him. Not that anybody minded.
"I think Bo and Roxy loved it," said Krouskos. "But then again, they would have fun at an insurance seminar."
Guerrero says dog weddings are supposed to be filled with frivolity, but owners looking to wed their pooches should keep a few safety tips in mind. For instance, make sure all the participating animals are amiable with dogs and people, keep them on a leash if the wedding will take place in public and make sure they use the bathroom before the festivities begin (although that's good advice for human couples, too!)
Bigwood says she has no regrets about her splashy dog ceremony – and says Skyler and Rainbow clearly enjoyed themselves, too.
"Afterwards," she says, "they jumped on my bed and I took a picture and said, 'Aww, the honeymoon!' " See more trends on PEOPLE Pets:From Bark Mitzvahs to Blessings, Pets Join In on Religious ServicesLike It Raw? A Trending Pet Diet Has Owners Grinding Meat at Home