Do we really need to have llamas and other animals at weddings?

Lllama at a wedding

Me and my big mouth are going to get ourselves in to trouble again with this post, but you know what, I actually don’t care. This is something that I feel really passionate about and I want to share it here to see if others feels the same, or perhaps not. But I’m going to talk about it anyway because a) it’s my blog (lol) and b) I truly feel there is merit in what I’m saying.

I honestly feel with all my heart, that in this day and age, we should not have animals at weddings, being used in some kind of entertainment capacity, like they’ve got nothing better in the world to be doing.

It breaks my heart when I see references to these trends of hiring out all sorts of different animals for use at weddings and I have to question how this has happened and more importantly, look at why it’s happening at all.

Llamas at weddings

Cue the cute photo of some awesome hipster wedding couple stood side by side with their own matching pair of llamas. We’ve all seen the images, right? Yeah, they look so cute don’t they? The male llama wearing a bow tie and mini bowler hat and the female donning a veil. ‘So cuuuuute’, everyone says. But is that what llamas were meant for? Is this what we brought them all the way over from South America for, to be trounced about at weddings and posing for photos, so that everyone can dose up on their cuteness and fill their Instagram feeds with them and #llamas?

‘Oh, but it’s just a bit of fun,’ l hear you say. Fun for whom exactly? For the couple and all their guests? For sure! Fun for the llamas? I don’t know. I have never had the pleasure of meeting a llama, but I have heard they love human contact. Maybe llamas enjoy the attention and like being petted, I’m sure they do, but doing that in a natural environment is way different to being dressed up and wheeled out as wedding entertainment, don’t you think? And just to add, I have no doubts that the owners of llamas look after them very well, and love them dearly, but come on, give a llama a break. If you want to pet a llama, why not go and visit a llama farm?

Birds at weddings

Even though I am a huge animal lover, birds are not as high up on my list as other types of animals. They kind of freak me out a little with their beady-eyed beakiness, but that aside, I still have an enormous respect for them as creatures, and so yes once again because of that, I don’t think they belong within the wedding arena.

Why does anyone need an owl or any other type of bird to deliver their wedding rings? Yes, it brings a wow factor to the delivery of rings, I get that. But just because they can do it, does it mean they should? Surely anything that takes an animal out of its natural environment and places them into an unnatural environment (weddings), with the sole purpose of being entertaining, is just not right? Again, I’m sure they are well cared for and loved, that’s not what is being disputed here, but simply whether they should be carrying out jobs which make them no different to circus performing animals. I once so a video of an owl ring bearer launching into an attack of the best man at a wedding. I’m sorry but I laughed my ass off. The best man was unhurt, just shocked but that video to me, showed us that the owl was just letting everyone know he did not want to be there at that wedding. I get that!

Butterfly releases at weddings

I have written extensively about my experiences with butterfly releases at weddings. You can read my thoughts here, but as you’d imagine this is a big no-no for me too. Butterflies are meant to fly around freely and uninhibited, not boxed up whilst waiting to be artificially released into some unknown environment, just because it looks pretty. Sigh!

A note about cats and dogs

I cannot finish this post without turning my attention to dogs and cats, and their attendance at weddings. Firstly, dogs and cats are pets and domestic animals, and I’d even go further than that and say for most dog and cat owners, their pets are a part of their family. Mine certainly are. My little boy thinks of our dogs as his fur brothers!

So when a dog and cat is included on a wedding day, they are there as a wedding guest and valued part of the family. They are not there for entertainment purposes, although don’t get me wrong, their presence at weddings is very entertaining, especially when they decide to have a pee or do a crap, mid ceremony in view of everyone, but that value is secondary to the actual reason why they are there.

‘But what about dressing them up?’ I hear you say, ‘ why is it different for pets?’ Well, whilst I’m not a fan of dressing up animals, dogs and cats routinely wear collars. Some dogs also wear doggie coats and jackets to keep warm. So, it’s not alien to them, and I don’t think having a bow tie on, or even a flower crown (which I imagine wouldn’t stay on for long.) is alien either. And I’d like to think that most dog and cat owners wouldn’t make their dogs uncomfortable for the sake of a bit of wedding decoration, as for them, the most important thing is their pet’s presence at their wedding and not how they’re dressed.

Whilst I’m here, and in full on rant mode, I should also add that I don’t think a bride or groom making an entrance on their horses, falls into what I would call using animals for entertainment. That’s what horses do, they are ridden by people and so doing this on one’s wedding day is something special for horse owners, and their horses I imagine. Again, the entertainment value is secondary to them being there out of love.

Sorry not sorry

I’d like to say to anyone reading this who perhaps was thinking about calling in the llamas or having a special hawk delivery, my intention is to not make you feel stupid or shame you for your choices, but perhaps to make you think about something that you’d never considered before.

Often when decisions like this are made, it’s because people don’t think of the not so nice side of these things. I know people will see a photo of a cute couple with an even cuter pair of llamas and think,’ OMG, I need to get me some llamas on my wedding day,’ without stopping to think if they really should. Without stopping to weigh up what the value of its inclusion is, and whether that value goes beyond it just being cute.

And it doesn’t help that photographical evidence of someone else having done it, someone else making it it look super fun and super cute, no doubt paves the way for others to follow on, just like lemmings! (since we’re talking animals!)

The thing is though people, now more than ever, society is demanding of its citizens (us) to be more conscious of our actions. To think of the value of our actions and the consequences of them too. And if we’re taking all of this onboard for how we live our everyday lives, we should also be taking this onboard for how we spend one of the most important day of our lives, too.

And just to be clear again, I do not think that handlers or owners of animals who hire their animals out for weddings or events, mistreat their animals in any way. On the contrary, I imagine all animal are beautifully cared for. My overriding point is, just because we can have animals at weddings, should we?

Peace out.

About the author

Natasha Johnson

Natasha Johnson is an experienced Wedding Celebrant, blogger and writer on all things related to weddings, in particular wedding ceremonies. Her mission is life is to encourage couples to see the importance of their wedding ceremony and to get married in just the way they want to. Make sure you catch her on the Engaged and Ready Wedding Podcast, here or on iTunes and Stitcher.

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