Villa Park falls short of world record for largest dog wedding ceremony
A whirlwind of canine romances and perfect sunny weather Saturday set the scene for an attempt to break the world record for the largest dog wedding ceremony in Villa Park.
Alas, the arranged nuptials in Lions Park fell short of the Guinness World Records title, but it was still a howling time.
The officiant, Villa Park Village President Nick Cuzzone, closed the ceremony with a command: "You may now bark your vows."
"I can't tell you how many dogs started barking. It was really a cute moment," organizer Leslie Allison-Seei said.
According to Guinness World Records adjudicator Clair Elise Stephens, Villa Park only registered 80 pooch pairs -- a total of 160 dogs. The turnout was far short of the 2007 record of 178 canine couples hitched at a ceremony in Littleton, Colorado.
Villa Park's record-breaking attempt was the main draw for "Paws & Claws in the Park," an animal adoption event.
The recently renamed Villa Park Community F.U.N. (Focus on Unifying Neighbors) Commission is the main sponsor, and the yearly fundraiser features vendors and dog-related activities to benefit area animal rescue organizations.
Arnetra Jackson of Chicago and her family brought along their single Shih Tzu named Piper after finding out about the dog wedding via Facebook.
"I just thought it was something fun to do -- to get my dog married," Jackson said.
Piper was paired with a single Maltese named Bear, owned by Villa Park resident Julian Arevalo. The matchmaking was arranged during a round of "Doggy Speed Dating" in which Piper and Bear were joined largely due to their similar small size.
All the owners and dog couples walked through an aspen arch and across a sequined red carpet for the ceremony. Cuzzone officiated the nonbinding ceremony with puns like "pre-nip-tual arrangement" and "pup and pup forever."
Will their puppy love last? That wasn't really the intent of Saturday's festivities.
"Quite honestly, it was a beautiful day, watching the community come together and come out for an event like this," Allison-Seei said.
Though the dog wedding record remains out of reach, there is a silver lining. Proceeds from the registration fees raised about $4,000, Allison-Seei said.
It will be split among 10 animal rescue organizations featured at the event.
• Daily Herald staff writer Katlyn Smith contributed to this report.