Pups Marry for Shot at Guinness World Record
Eighty-seven dogs tied the knot last weekend in Chicago, but the number of couples wasn't enough to trump the Guinness record. (Pet Pulse Photo by Zhenia Koval. Design by Tim Mattson)
CHICAGO -- It wasn't prime weather for an outdoor wedding, but the majority of patrons had warm, furry coats to keep the chill at bay.
The doggy brides and groomsmen turned out in full force to tie the knot on Nov. 8, hoping to also make history with an exchange of the rings.
Nearly 100 dogs tied the knot at the pet pandemonium, which was hailed as a legitimate attempt to break the Guinness World Record for a mass dog wedding.
The standard was first set by residents of Littleton, Colo., in 2007, when they clocked in at 178 couples. Organizers of Oak Park's "I Do, Doggone It" thought they could do better.
"I think we have a good shot," Pat Zubak, executive director of downtown Oak Park, said days before the event.
Guinness, which annually receives 60,000 applications, must have thought so too, since it sent North American adjudicator Danny Girton, Jr., to preside over the event.
"It was creative, it's family-friendly, it's exciting, so it's a perfect fit for what Guinness World Records is all about," Girton said.
Only about 3 percent of the 60,000 applicants who try to make records each year actually leave their mark in the book, Girton said.
"I Do, Doggone It" also marked the North American kickoff for Guinness World Records Week, when title attempts are made and witnessed all over the map.
The event was replete with matrimonial decorations and a canine-exclusive cake the newlyweds joyfully devoured. Dogs decked out in white gowns and tuxedos filled the town square.
"People went all out. You can see some of the costumes, the wedding gowns and the tuxedos and everything," said Tom Van Winkle, executive director of Oak Park's Animal Care League.
"The most extravagant one I saw had a shopping cart made up and the little poodle inside of it. She was the Oak Park Queen or the Oak Park Princess. She did a great job."
Despite the enthusiasm, however, Oak Park's dogged efforts ended up short.
The final tally for the mass matrimony was 87 couples, just shy of half of the existing record. The crowd let out a collective sigh as Girton announced that Oak Park's wedding had not bested its predecessor.
The disappointment, however, didn't last long.
"I am so thrilled that so many people came out of a day like this," Zubak said. "I think dog lovers are just a hearty group … and they came out to support this and they had a lot of fun so that in my mind made it a very successful, heartwarming day."
Lucretia Meo, a Berwyn resident whose poodle, Mia -- the unofficial Oak Park princess -- had wed that day, concurred. "It was worth it," she said.
That may have had something to do with the event's dual purpose. Beyond a record-breaking attempt, the event was also a fundraiser to benefit the Animal Care League of Oak Park. More than $6,000 was raised.
"At nine this morning, I was hoping to have three couples," Van Winkle said. "Eighty-seven is excellent, so we’re very happy."
And "I Do, Doggone It" may still have a shot at record-breaking success. Organizers are currently exploring whether the famously liberal town can set a progressive best of its own: A mass dog wedding with the most same-sex couples.
"I was speaking to the adjudicator, who left the door open that we can apply (for the record of most same-sex couples)," Zubak said. "So we’re going to go for it. Why not?"
If the title isn’t granted, organizers and participants agreed that again going after the more traditional matrimonial maximum isn’t out of the question.
"Oh yeah, I’ll do it again, of course," Meo said, sporting pink heart-shaped sunglasses. "[Mia’s] always ready, willing and able to be in the limelight."
Especially in the name of puppy love.
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