6 TIPS FOR ATTENDING A DOG WEDDING

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Summer is the time for weddings, and with them, a whole host of etiquette questions....how much to spend on a gift; is it ever acceptable to ask about bringing a guest; should you bother attending the ceremony if you haven't been invited to the reception...and so on. But a dog wedding? That's a special breed of nuptial entirely. (Pun intended.)

I had the chance to attend my very first dog wedding last week, witnessing the vows of Baby Hope Diamond (seen here, in the arms of her proud "mother," Wendy Diamond) and Chilly Pasternak (a Standard Poodle). Talk about setting the bar high...the event, thrown by Diamond, a champion of animal-rescue, was held at Jumeirah Essex House, one of Manhattan's finest hotels. The bridesmaids, groomsmen and ringbearers were all canines. "Cake Boss" baker Buddy Valastro made the evening's crowning dessert. A seven-piece band performed. And a $6,000 wedding dress--from NYC bridal atelier Kleinfeld--included Swarovski crystals, white French lace and a silk train. Top-flight wedding planner Harriette Rose Katz, whose past clients have included Billy Baldwin and Chynna Phillips, helped pull the occasion together. All-in, the wedding had a value of $250,000 (goods and services were donated), and Guinness has designated it the most expensive pet wedding ever, far surpassing the previous record of $16,421, which was set when two cats Thai'd the knot in Thailand.

Before you shudder about such excess being spent on two dogs who in actual fact will not be mating for life, let alone living together (the "groom" resides in Virginia and the "bride" is a NY gal), take heart that the whole affair was orchestrated as a benefit for the Humane Society of New York, an organization dedicated to rescuing dogs, cats and other animals and getting them into the homes of animal-lovers who can truly care for them. All in all, $50,000 was raised during last week's wedding...a sum that should buy a lot of food and medicine for animals in need.

Apart from the money going to a good cause, the occasion helped answer certain lingering questions about how one should act at a dog wedding. Read on for my take-aways....

1) This is one wedding where bringing your own dog from home is not just okay; it's broadly encouraged. (Ideally, however, yours is of the pint-size variety....Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds are better left with a pet sitter.) Good dispositions (both you and your dog) are a must.

2) Attention to dress-code is essential. A simple collar will not do. Dogs should be in their Sunday best--the more outlandish (hats, scarves, dresses, tuxes), the better.

3) Make sure your dog has eaten (and been walked) before you get to the ceremony. It can be a long night--for him (and you!) otherwise. Just in case, come prepared for accidents, and be ready to clean them quickly.

4) Bring a gift that both the bride and groom can enjoy--such as his 'n' hers collars or perhaps a gift certificate for a photo sitting in their home city. You might also consider giving a gift to the local humane society in the name of the happy couple.

5) Whatever you do, don't request that the band play "Stray Cat Strut" or "The Alley Cat." Opt for classics such as "Hound Dog" or "Who Let the Dogs Out" instead.

6) Don't forget your camera--or your sense of humor. This is an occasion you (and your pup) will never forget.

For more petiquette tips, check out my recent segment on "The Couch" on CBS New York station WLNY, with dog groom Chilly Pasternak, and hosts John Elliott and Carolina Bermudez.