A Dog Marriage for All the Right Reasons

By Cameron Woo, February 2019

A woman’s wish to marry her dog … was this another article poking fun at “crazy dog people”? A closer look at a recent New York Times feature (in the Weddings section no less) revealed much more. The set-up: Lilly Smartelli has always wanted a “big Italian wedding,” but with no prospects in sight and a health prognosis of “one or two good years left,” she decided she would symbolically marry Bernie, her dog.

An excerpt from the New York Times article by Vincent M. Mallozzi:

Lilly Smartelli dreams of marrying her best friend on Valentine’s Day.

“Bernie and I have been looking for just the right wedding venue to stage our big Italian wedding,” said Ms. Smartelli, 55, who lives in Phoenix.


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Ms. Smartelli marks Feb. 14 on her calendar, not as a romantic holiday, but as a day defined by comfort, happiness and a different sort of true love.

She found all of those things in Bernie, who happens to be one of the main characters in a book she self-published last October called, “The $5 Dog Wedding.”

He also happens to be a dog.

“By marrying Bernie in a symbolic way, I could draw attention to organ-donor groups and local animal welfare shelters that lack proper funding,” Ms. Smartelli said between labored breaths.

So her potential big day will serve as a fund-raising awareness moment for the two causes close to her heart. “It’s all in good fun,” she said.

“I know I will never be married, but I would still love to experience the kind of wedding, even if it’s a fake wedding, that I’ve been dreaming about since I was a little girl.”

 “I can’t think of anyone in the entire world who loves me more than Bernie does …” said Ms. Smartelli.

The article celebrates the essence of Valentine’s Day—the meaning of love, sharing life with those you care most for and following your heart. It’s also a tribute to acts of goodness, as Smartelli hopes to draw attention to organ donation and supporting shelters. We wish her and Bernie much happiness.