Marriage has gone to the dogs-literally. Amid all the debate over “redefining marriage,” one woman is taking matrimony to an entirely new realm. To a place where species is irrelevant, and cats, dogs, and bunnies can love.
Alma Rose Middleton, 53, who grew up in Los Angeles and moved to Santa Barbara seven years ago, had been officiating human weddings for five years when her inspiration to marry pets was borne. “I love dogs and pets, and I wanted to be in the wedding business. What prompted the whole idea was that we had dogs in the bridal party, and I saw them walking down the aisle together,” Middleton explained.
And so she officiated her first pet wedding at the beginning of 2008 in the form of rabbit matrimony between Mrs. Marilyn Bunroe and Mr. Whipple. Ever since, Middleton has been busy tying the knot between pets, mainly uniting devoted canines. Most recently, she orchestrated a high-end wedding in December, joining Heartly, the tiny 10-pound Havanese groom, to Sasha, the 130-pound Russian Terrier bride. They were also joined by the dog of honor, Daschel, a Standard Schnauzer.
Middleton called this event the most memorable of those she has done thus far. No detail was ignored, down to what the pet guests were served, such as “Haute Dogs” paired with “Dog Perignon,” she said. After the “puptials” and reception, the two newlyweds even sped off in a getaway car to go bask privately in wedded bliss. According to Middleton, there were 50 people guests and 10 pet guests, as well as a film crew from Toronto in attendance to shoot the wedding for a television series called TV Made Me Do It.
The wedded dog couple belongs to Douglas and Veronica Lambert, who held the event, which cost several thousand dollars. “It was more to have a fun celebration. It was not really about the marriage. It was my birthday weekend and that’s how I chose to celebrate it,” said Veronica Lambert. She went on to say it was an enjoyable event for the whole family, with her daughters joining in as maids of honor and her son as best man. Lambert added that the wedding was well worth the money spent, and she would consider doing another pet event in the future.
Despite the extravagance of this wedding, Middleton made a point to say that the size and cost of the wedding is not the important thing and that it varies greatly depending on what the owner wants. When asked how she would respond to skeptics who might say pet weddings are unnecessary and over-the-top, Middleton said, “We are not trying to humanize pets, just celebrate special occasions just like we do with other family members.”
She emphasized that many pet owners are passionate about their animals. “The pet industry is more than $40 billion strong and we care for our pets like we do our family members,” she said. In Santa Barbara alone, dog lovers can find a resort and athletic club, social club, and several boutiques boasting chic pet apparel and gourmet eats for their best friends. Middleton understands this need to pamper a pet and provides another outlet through these pet weddings and other events. “As a pet parent, when I get an occasion to come to an event and bring my dog, it’s a great way to spend time with my friends while my dog gets social time. Plus, it’s a great excuse to have a celebration,” she said.
Just as Middleton does not discriminate which species she will marry, she is more than happy to marry same-sex pet couples and has a same-sex wedding coming up in Beverly Hills in early February. “I’m uniting love, not so much genders,” Middleton said. While she admits that the demand for pet weddings is not overwhelming yet, she has confidence that it will gain popularity as famous people such as Pamela Anderson, who married her dogs, and Joan Rivers, who held a “bark-mitzvah” for her pooch, bring it publicity. The idea has already caught the eye of a national TV network launching this month called PetsTV, which will be airing a six-episode series on Middleton’s pet wedding, anniversary, and adoption ceremonies.
If the trend continues, it seems Middleton will be taking mere puppy love and turning it into lasting relationships for years to come.
To learn more about how to marry your pets, visit petweddingcelebrations.com.