By Sabrina Ford
NEW YORK (Reuters) - In a midtown Manhattan hotel, a very special bride-to-be named Lucky, decked out in a frilly pink dress, recently celebrated her impending nuptials with friends over champagne, sandwiches, cupcakes and tea.
Like many brides, Lucky is in a rush to walk down the aisle, but she is no ordinary spouse-in-waiting and her shower was anything but typical. Lucky, like many of her 32 guests, is a dog - the most-photographed dog in the world with celebrities.
But there's more, a lot more.
She and her "parent," Wendy Diamond, have dedicated their lives to help the plight of rescue animals, yet that will soon end. The energetic but aging Maltese was diagnosed with spleen cancer in February and given three months to a year to live.
"Lucky's entire life has been about bringing awareness to rescue," said Diamond, who has made Lucky an ambassador for shelter dogs. "We're looking for someone to take over."
Diamond has plans for an elaborate July 12 wedding at the Jumeirah Essex House hotel in Manhattan. The author and animal rescue advocate is looking to pair Lucky with a spouse that will become the new, most-photographed celebrity canine with an aim to help spring animals from shelters across America.
Diamond said that when she adopted Lucky in 1999, the Maltese suffered from separation anxiety, forcing her to carry the 8 lbs. pooch to all the dates on her social calendar - dinner parties, TV show tapings and charity events.
One night, she was a guest at a dinner party attended by Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant, and an idea struck her.
"I said, 'Hey Hugh, my dog is your biggest fan, would you mind taking a picture with her?'" said Diamond. "That's how it all started."
ANIMALS IN NEED
Since then, Lucky has posed with hundreds of stars including Kristen Stewart, President Bill Clinton, billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson and of course, Snoop Dogg. She will appear in the 2013 Guinness World Records as the most-photographed animal with celebrities.
Lucky also is the "face" of Animal Fair, a charitable group Diamond founded in 1999 to raise money and help rescue animals in shelters.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates five to seven million animals enter shelters every year and most are euthanized.
Anne-Marie Karash, Associate Director of the Humane Society New York, was a guest at Lucky's bridal shower.
"This is an important event because we need to raise awareness about shelter dogs but, it's also special to get together and just to be silly and enjoy your dogs," she said.
The ideal partner for Lucky should be friendly and not camera shy, but Diamond is otherwise keeping an open mind.
"It doesn't have to be male, said Diamond. "In New York State, two lady dogs are allowed to get married," she said with a laugh. She's also open to other animals, including cats. And, adds Diamond, "The best thing about this marriage is they don't have to live together or sleep together."
Dylan Lauren, chief executive of retailer Dylan's Candy Bar and daughter of designer Ralph Lauren, also attended Lucky's shower and has been a judge at Diamond's annual "Howloween" costume parties.
"I love the work Lucky's done. She's one of the most beautiful dogs and will make a beautiful bride," said Lauren, who brought along her recently adopted mixed-breed Jersey.
Harriette Rose Katz, a much in-demand New York event planner, is taking the reins for organizing Lucky's nuptials because, after all, a celebrity pooch needs a posh affair.
"It's going to be so exciting," said Katz, who has planned another couple's "Muttrimony." "We're going to make a huge arbor of flowers. It will be beautiful. All we need is the groom!"
Potential spouses can apply at Diamond and Lucky's Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wendy-and-Lucky-Diamond/321873835270, or at animalfair.com. Diamond will select Lucky's spouse on June 28, two weeks before the wedding.
"I think she'll have the most unique wedding of the year," said Lauren. "Forget about Brad and Angelina!"
(Reporting by Sabrina Ford, editing by Bob Tourtellotte)