Married life is going swimmingly for Stedman and Phoenix. They enjoy frequent dates at the spa together, spend weekends relaxing at home and continue to bond over shared memories of their spectacular wedding ceremony.
And yet, these – like all others behind them and all those ahead – are the dog days of the relationship. But that’s just a canine’s lot in life.
So the beagle and papitese don’t go to work each day, split the household chores or walk on two legs; their love, according to Stedman’s “mom” Sarah Segal, was as apparent as any two humans’ from the moment they laid eyes.
“When [Stedman] met Phoenix, it changed his life,” Segal, owner and founder of Atlanta Dog Spa, said. “He’s really kind of shy, likes to just lay around and be quiet. I went out of town one weekend, and Blair [Berger, Phoenix’s “mom” and an ADS employee] took a video of them playing.
“They were romping and rolling, carrying on, inseparable. It was something Stedman had never experienced before.”
Soon, Stedman was “writing” love letters to the apple of his eye, and in time, proposed. Segal had been to one dog wedding before – a hilarious, over-the-top event for sure – and wanted to recreate the experience for two of her favorite four-legged friends, but with a specific purpose.
A longtime supporter of Animal Defenders International, which fights to keep animals protected from cruel treatment in the entertainment industry (particularly circuses), she asked guests to donate in lieu of gifts. “Sted and Phee-Phee” are spoiled enough, it would seem, and it was critical to Segal that this wasn’t just frivolity.
“That was a highlight for me, letting people know what we’re working on in the animal arena,” she said. “We always want to remember those that are suffering; we don’t ever want to forget them.”
After all, it’s not every dog who gets to walk down the aisle in a handmade, Armani-inspired tuxedo or I See Spot-designed wedding dress and veil from Uptown Pups; chow down on a custom Taj Mahound wedding cake; or sport a diamond collar charm as a wedding ring.
But these two deserved it, benefiting the less fortunate and respecting tradition, with all male dogs wearing kippot and incorporation of ketubah, chuppah and even an edible Kiddush cup (again, Taj Mahound). With a venue like the Loews Hotel and quite the crowd in attendance – the Barkworld pet social media conference was in town – this was a suitable special day for two special dogs.
“The reception was unbelievable; people say normal weddings don’t go that smoothly,” Segal laughed. “It was everything you could ever dream of for a doggie wedding and then some. When [the officiant] said ‘Now, please join paws,’ that was the funniest thing.”