Pets In The Wedding

Pets In The Wedding

The bride and groom stand before the minister, who just called for the ring. The groomsmen look around — where is the ringbearer? Finally, they find him… asleep, drool inching down the corner of his mouth. With a nudge, Duke, the ringbearer, awakens. He hobbles over to the groom, who takes the ring from a red velvet pillow and places it on his beloved’s finger. “With this ring, I thee wed…”

Duke makes his way back to his place, next to the father of the groom, and promptly falls back to sleep.

Who is this drowsy participant? A bored nephew? An aging grandfather? A narcoleptic uncle? None of the above. Duke is the latest trend in weddings. Duke is a golden retriever.

Brides and grooms who can’t foresee getting through this special day without all family members represented are finding ways of incorporating pets and other members of the animal kingdom into their ceremony. From horses to doves to butterflies, the range of animals able to help out when called upon is impressive. But the most popular, naturally, is man’s best friend, the loyal and loving dog.

The easiest duty given to dogs is that of ringbearer. With a silk or velvet pillow tied around his neck, and the ring placed securely atop the pillow, any dog capable of finding his master should perform ably when called upon. It might be advisable to enroll the dog in a training school; one bride-to-be has her dog learning to carry the ring on a small pole, to which the pillow is attached, rather than tying the pillow around the neck of the dog.

Many churches or other religious institutions might not allow animals inside their doors, so it is essential that the bride or groom check with their ceremony location before planning on using Spot as the ringbearer. But for a ceremony that takes place in a park or a home (perhaps even a hotel), a dog can bring special meaning to the event, particularly when the bride or groom has grown up with the furry friend.

If a nephew or niece is already pencilled in for the ringbearer slot, but you still wish to incorporate the family dog into your ceremony, the dog might act as flowergirl (carrying a bouquet of flowers in his mouth, perhaps), or even as a bridesmaid or groomsman. One bride managed to get both of her dogs into the ceremony. One of them led the bride and groom up to the altar, and one of them carried a sign that read, “Just Married.” Talk to your training school to find out what your dog might learn to do.

If you’ve never been lucky enough to own a dog, but still wish to include a representative of the animal kingdom in your ceremony, there are several other options. One of the more unusual and poetic is the butterfly. Hardly a soul exists who has not held a butterfly in her hand, its wings in hues of blue, white, or gold, swaying slowly just before it lifts off and flutters away. What better way to end a ceremony — instead of throwing rice or birdseed, guests can each release a butterfly into the sky as the bride and groom pass by. It’s a unique and beautiful addition to any wedding, as hundreds (or dozens, depending on the size of your wedding) of the colorful insects take off into the air to punctuate the ceremony.

Before ordering your butterflies it is important to remember that butterflies are susceptible to low temperatures. To successfully carry this off, it is recommended that the wedding take place in spring or summer; at one chilly December wedding in New York the guests attempted to release the butterflies — all of which were dead. Not exactly the effect hoped for.

If insects aren’t your thing, or the date’s already set for January in Chicago, perhaps you could send a dozen or so doves flying through the sky. For centuries doves have represented peace and love, qualities any marriage could benefit from. Setting a dozen doves free as the bride and groom exit the building or perhaps even as they share their first kiss (if the ceremony is taking place in a park or other outdoor arena) is sure to make the wedding memorable.

Should you prefer creatures of the sea to those of the air, consider using goldfish in your reception’s centerpiece. A small glass bowl filled with water and a lively goldfish swimming around makes a charming and inexpensive decoration. The bowl and fish can be given as a gift to guests.

And finally, what fairy tale would be complete without the prince and princess riding off together in a horse-drawn carriage? While limousines and other fancy cars might be more common, the horse-drawn carriage makes an unforgettable mode of transport that is sure to stop traffic. Be sure to check with local ordinances before booking any animal-powered transportation.

So if you’re an animal lover wishing to fill your wedding day with beasts big or small, the possibilities are numerous. Just be sure to remember that they are animals, so if they wander off in the wrong direction, give them a whistle; if they fall asleep, give them a nudge. And should your pet do the… unmentionable, you may want to designate a (very) good friend for clean-up duty. Pets may not perform perfectly, but the smile a familiar face can bring makes a wedding day perfect, not whether the ring was carried to the groom at just the right time.

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