Gateway: Living

Doggy wedding brings joy to Kensington Garden residents

People gather to take photos of newlyweds Lily Watson and Eddie Mladenich.
People gather to take photos of newlyweds Lily Watson and Eddie Mladenich.

As the sun shined down Sunday afternoon on the white wooden chairs that were laid out on the lawn, residents gathered around the entrance of the building in excitement.

Living estate Kensington Gardens was hosting a wedding, but with a catch: It was a doggy wedding.

The groom, Eddie, was dressed up in a suit, while the bride, Lily, wore a harness decorated with flowers and a veil attached.

“The residents wanted to get involved,” said activities director Lisa Browning.

One resident, a former florist, created the flower harness.

“She’s been having so much fun,” Browning said.

Many residents and guests brought their dogs out to join the ceremony. As Lily walked down the aisle, those in attendance whipped out their phones and cameras to capture the lighthearted moment. The remarks of the officiator, Mark Watson, were a play on those of a human wedding.

“Speak now or forever hold your bark!” he said.

It was a model wedding with a fun aspect, but was important that the dogs were comfortable, Browning said.

Both the bride and the groom are therapy dogs with no formal training that frequent Kensington Gardens five days per week.

“If the residents allow it, they will cuddle and nap with the residents,” Browning said.

Browning rescued Eddie from CHEW (Canine Health Education & Welfare) one and a half years ago. Rather than having gift donations for the newly wedded couple, a donation table for CHEW was set up. CHEW Dog Rescue is a Gig Harbor-based all-volunteer organization dedicated to rescuing abandoned dogs and dogs scheduled for euthanasia due to shelter space limitations.

Sunday’s event was Kensington Gardens resident Margie Kline’s first doggy wedding.

Doggy weddings should become a new business because they make people happy.

Kensignton Gardens resident Margie Kline

“Doggy weddings should become a new business because they make people happy,” she said.

Kline went on to describe her favorite part of the wedding.

“The two of them up on the table looking at each other.”

Kensington Gardens is 23 acres large, and used to host weddings.

“We did weddings for seven years and said, ‘We can do better,” stated Kelly Watson, the founder and owner.

When Watson’s father became ill, she turned the gardens into a living estate for elderly.

“In many retirements homes, residents are often neglected and treated poorly,” said Watson. At Kensington Gardens, “every resident joins in activities.”

According to Browning, several planning meetings were held prior to the wedding.

$500 amount of money doggy wedding raised for CHEW

“The doggy wedding idea came up a couple of months ago. The last few weeks have been spent finalizing the wedding,” said Browning.

Some residents were so ecstatic about the wedding that they displayed the wedding invitations in their living quarters.

Activities such as the doggy wedding gives the residents “something to look forward to and be a part of,” she said.

The doggy wedding at Kensington Gardens generated $500 for CHEW dogs like Eddie.