There’s a New Trend of Animals in Weddings, but Are They Symbol or Spectacle?

Bride and groom making a toast with champagne
Many people want their wedding to be memorable, meaningful, and fun, but a new trend in tying the knot is really pushing the envelope. The Wall Street Journal reports that more and more couples are opting to include wedding guests that are a little less than conventional to make the wedding itself more exciting, but they’re probably not what you think. They’re animals.

One groom, Garrette Ziem, decided to surprise his bride, Kim Dalton, with a pair of llamas in their ceremony because he knew they would entertain and calm her. When the blushing bride saw the llamas, she “exploded in happiness and tears,” Ziem told The Wall Street Journal.

It’s not actually uncommon to include an animal in a wedding ceremony — people have used dogs as ring-bearers and for other similar roles — but people are more and more often choosing exotic animals for their events.

In some cases, the use of animals is cited as symbolic, like the metamorphosis of a butterfly represents a girl’s transformation into a woman at a bat mitzvah. Elephants in an Indian wedding are seen as a symbol of good luck. But are animals in events actually symbolic, or a grasp at spectacular novelty?

Tory Cooper, who’s been an event planner in Las Vegas for 20 years, says that she’s gotten requests for snakes, monkeys, and elephants for all kinds of events. An elephant rental can run a couple about $10,000. Since the average cost of a wedding in the United States is about $26,000 and 25% of couples pay for their entire wedding themselves, however, this is probably not a practical move for most couples.

“You have to be careful of the animals coming inside the dining spaces due to food services that share the same space. Couples will often have dogs and cats as ring bearers which often makes a wedding more memorable for the couple,” says Jeff Robinson, Director of Sales for Deerfield  Golf Club. “Just be honest with the venue owner and let them know that you plan on bringing an animal to the ceremony. As long as the client is fair and up front with what they want to do, then it should end up being a joyous occasion.”

If a couple is interested in enlisting the help of animals — llamas, elephants, or otherwise — for their nuptials, they should make sure to check with their venues ahead of time.

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