Weddings: You, Me and Poochy

Fido's more than man's best friend: increasingly, he's the best man or a groomsman, too. Incorporating pets into wedding ceremonies has become this year's hottest wedding trend--and one that experts predict is unlikely to tail off. Mindy Weiss, a wedding planner in Beverly Hills, Calif., says 40 percent of her clients now include pets in their big day, up from just a handful three years ago. Dogs usually serve as ring bearers, though brides will sometimes carry lap dogs or small cats in lieu of bouquets. Either way, couples want to honor their animal. "Pets represent an important link in a couple's relationship," Weiss says.

Pet boutiques and suppliers have responded to the boom with new formalwear ranging from pooch pearls and tiaras to leopard stoles and top hats. Alexis Creations, a pet-supply manufacturer in San Antonio, Texas, distributes popular canine tuxedos--$85 for Chihuahuas, $135 for Great Danes--and will introduce a red velvet suit this month. Using pets takes some extra planning; experts advise couples to check guests for allergies and place someone in charge of the animal's needs for the day. But newlyweds say the rewards outweigh the hassles. Heather Huntington, a recent bride in Chicago, designated Mr. Big, her 50-pound border collie, as ring bearer. "He cried while we recited our vows," she says. Now that's puppy love.