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In Peru, dogs 'marry' on Valentine's Day - and dress up for the occasion

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 Women hold their dogs during a symbolic wedding in Peru. [Courtesy]

Cynthia Ceballos' celebration of Valentine's Day on Monday in Peru's capital Lima was not about her own love life: it was about the marriage of two of her small fluffy white dogs.

Dressed in Andean-inspired clothing, Ceballos' dogs were the winners of Lima's MatriCan - a play on the Spanish words for "wedding" and "dog" - a local competition that celebrates Valentine's Day by dressing dogs as if they were about to get married.

"I saw an Andean wedding and said, 'Why can't I do the same with my little dogs?" Ceballos said.

Mass weddings are common in Peru, especially on Valentine's Day. It is a way for Peruvians who cannot afford a wedding of their own to celebrate and also ensure their union is legally recognized. Mass dog weddings are just a twist on the tradition.

Some dogs were dressed in more conventional attire - a bow tie for the dog groom, a white bell-shaped dress for the bride. Others were dressed in colorful, summery attire fit for the hot season in the Southern Hemisphere. One owner even put a veil on one of the dogs.

The owners then helped their dogs sign their marriage papers, by lifting their paws and pressing them on paper. In the end, the dogs and the owners all took a picture together.

"In this very special day that is the day of love and friendship we have married 8 dog couples," said Patricia Ballari, from Lima's parks service, which organized the event.

"They have received their certificate of matrimony. ... We had a very nice time with the owners who brought their four-legged friends," Ballari said.

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