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updated: 7/5/2011 12:35 PM

Unconventional wedding brings smiles to DuPage Convalescent Center residents

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  • Sparky Perez, left, and Peanut Bobik, right, celebrated their summer nuptials Thursday, June 30, at the DuPage Convalescent Center's 3 North unit. The wedding was organized as a fun activity for residents by nurse's aid Cheryl Bobik.

       Sparky Perez, left, and Peanut Bobik, right, celebrated their summer nuptials Thursday, June 30, at the DuPage Convalescent Center's 3 North unit. The wedding was organized as a fun activity for residents by nurse's aid Cheryl Bobik.
    PAUL MICHNA | Staff Photographer

  • Delores Weiss congratulates the groom with a scratch on the back after his wedding Thursday. The ceremony also featured a wedding party with two bridesmaids and a best man.

       Delores Weiss congratulates the groom with a scratch on the back after his wedding Thursday. The ceremony also featured a wedding party with two bridesmaids and a best man.
    PAUL MICHNA | Staff Photographer

  • Resident Carol Brinkman conducts the service for the dog wedding at the DuPage Convalescent Center in Wheaton.

       Resident Carol Brinkman conducts the service for the dog wedding at the DuPage Convalescent Center in Wheaton.
    PAUL MICHNA | Staff Photographer

 
By Megan Bannister
mbannister@dailyherald.com

As minutes slowly tick by, more than 40 guests wait in anticipation of a wedding.

It's 3:11 p.m., more than 10 minutes after the time hand written on the pink glittered invitations each guest had received.

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Still there is no bride.

The guests keep their eyes glued on the doorway, chatting about potential bachelor party goings-on and whether the wedding will actually take place.

When it seems all hope has been lost, the five members of the wedding party, surrounded by family and friends, scamper through the door.

After a few moments of shuffling bodies and adjusting clothing, the bride's brother Chad Bobik begins to play the "Wedding March" softly on keyboard.

Bridesmaids Nina, a platinum blonde, and her sister Lexi, a brunette, make their way down an aisle sprinkled with white rose petals. They wear matching green and blue flowered bonnets.

The freckled, slightly hesitant, bride fondly known as Peanut follows closely behind wearing a fuchsia choker adorned with rhinestones, an elegant white ball gown and a sparkling tiara.

Though some guests scoff, the bride sits down in the center of the aisle, refusing to move until she is urged along by her father, George Bobik.

Sparky Perez, the smiling groom in a suave tuxedo and bow tie, waits unperturbed at the altar next to his best man, the impressively coifed Ricky, while the bride's mother Cheryl Bobik looks on.

As Carol Brinkman takes her place at the altar to officiate the ceremony, the guests seem distracted.

The bridesmaids are licking one another and chewing on their bonnets. Ricky has rolled over next to Sparky and Peanut is whining softly.

The residents of the DuPage Convalescent Center at 3 North aren't too astonished. They knew they would be attending a dog wedding.

Affair to remember

"Originally we were just going to have the wedding at home and have a barbecue with the grandkids," said Cheryl Bobik, the wedding's planner who has been a nurse's aid at the DuPage County Convalescent Center in Wheaton for almost 22 years.

But Cheryl's husband George suggested moving the event so it could be shared with the people Cheryl works with each day.

"All of my residents love her," Cheryl said of Peanut, whom she brings to work with her at least once a month.

"It's just something she feels she needs to do to make things better for the people there," George said.

A few years ago, the Bobiks threw a similar shindig for two teddy bears belonging to a resident in the same unit. The event was such a success the family decided to host another wedding.

"This will be the last one," Cheryl's daughter Michelle Galis said. "We promise."

The wedding party includes various members of the Bobik family. Cheryl and George's daughter-in-law Sonia Bobik volunteered her two 7-month-old Chihuahuas Nina and Lexi as bridesmaids, and the couple's spotted Chihuahua Peanut and white Peekapoo Ricky acted as bride and best man.

The groom, a white Chihuahua named Sparky belongs to the Perez family who live across the street from the Bobiks.

Cheryl recounts the happy couple's tail, or rather tale, of love at first sight.

"Actually she found him," Cheryl said of Peanut.

One day the usually obedient Chihuahua darted across the street while Sparky played in front of the Perez's home. As far as Cheryl is concerned, it was love at first lick.

A big "hoop de doo"

"Should we bark or something?" a resident inquires after Brinkman, who is also a resident at the DuPage Convalescent Center, pronounces the pair "man" and "wife."

A medley of woofs and applause resonates from the residents as Galis presents the wedding party with a Milk-Bone cake decorated with rawhide chews.

Cheryl beams as the dogs nibble on the treats.

"She has a passion for doing things like this," Sonia said of her mother-in-law. "She loves doing it, especially because it brings a smile to the residents' faces."

As the festivities wind down, residents brag to one another about having held the happy couple.

There is another round of applause as George and Sonia gather the dogs into the elevator and an enthusiastic resident announces their departure, of the unit and of single life.

"Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time as doggy and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Perez."

The newlyweds will have to wait to celebrate their honeymoon though. Cheryl says she plans on breeding the two Chihuahuas in September.

"How many people have something dumb like this?" George joked, calling the event "a big hoop de doo."

Though George's admiration of his wife's compassionate nature makes it clear that he does not think the wedding completely foolish.

According to her husband, Cheryl spends significant amounts of her time and money to cheer up those she works with and cares for at the DuPage Convalescent Center.

The couple also bring their canine children to the DuPage Convalescent Center a few times each month to "liven things up," George said.

In 30 years of marriage, Cheryl and George, the parents of nine human children, have participated in their fair share of quirky events.

The Thursday nuptials were not the first time the couple's canines have been in costume. George says the two dogs are regularly dressed up for holidays like Halloween, Christmas and Thanksgiving.

"We haven't made him up to be a turkey yet," George said of Ricky. "But that day will probably come."

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