Doves have long been a traditional part of wedding receptions, but they are facing some competition these days from monkeys, cobras, elephants, butterflies and llamas.
One couple recently rented an elephant to ride for their wedding ceremony in Huntington Beach, California, causing some concern with public safety among animal-right activists over the exotic animal, reported CBS Los Angeles.
The couple is just one of the many pairs who have recently incorporated animals or insects in their happy festivities. These couples rent animals out for weddings for a variety of reasons, including cultural tradition, personal liking and public reaction.
Tory Cooper, an event planner in Las Vegas, told The Wall Street Journal that her business has used elephants, monkeys and pythons for parties of all kinds.
Cooper said that last year she organized an event for an Indian couple, Pankaj Malani and Avnie Patel, who wanted to use an elephant in their Las Vegas ceremony because elephants are a sign of good luck in their culture.
The couple reportedly paid around $10,000 to have the elephant carry the groom down the Bellagio Resort and Casino's driveway.
“My phone has been ringing off the hook ever since," Cooper told the Wall Street Journal.
Butterflies have also been a frequent request for weddings this year, reported CNN.
"(Butterfly farming is) an exploding industry and there are just not enough butterflies out there," Jame Breckinridge, who is part of the Euchee Butterfly Farm in Oklahoma, told CNN.
Breckinridge said that she loves seeing the look on people's faces when they see butterfly exhibits.
Aside from butterflies, llamas have also been surprisingly popular for wedding ceremonies and for wedding surprises.
Marureen "Mo" Kelley told BND that she has been part of 10 weddings in four years, and one of the weddings involved llamas as part of the ceremony.
Kelley said, "(The bride) met her husband in Ecuador. He spoke no English. She spoke Spanish. The wedding was in her parents’ backyard. They said vows in Spanish and gave cards to guests with the voews (sic) in English. I believe one llama had a bow tie and one had a veil on. It was just so her.”
Garette Ziem, a recent groom in Florida, also told the Wall Street Journal that he wanted to surprise his then-fianceé, Kim Dalton, on their wedding day with llamas. Ziem said that when Dalton saw the two llamas she "exploded in happiness and tears."
Ziem said he believed that llamas escorting him and his wife down the aisle would provide a memorable wedding experience for their wedding guests.
His bride told the WSJ, “It meant so much to me that Garette went above and beyond to create this extra special moment."
Some couples are even hosting their nuptial ceremonies at public zoos, many of which offer full wedding-planning services.
Colleen Tankoos at the Toledo Zoo in Ohio told the PR Web that this is the zoo's 10th year in hosting weddings. She said, “Our weddings have ranged from small, intimate affairs of 20 people or less to as many as 500 guests.
“We utilize almost every element of the Zoo to create the perfect wedding setting for every couple," Tankoos said.
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