Wedding Planning: Should we have Animals at Weddings?

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Sadly, we know that a lot of weddings have been postponed or scaled back this month. However, if you’re planning your wedding at the moment, you may just find that you have a little more time on your hands for planning! So we take a look at whether you should have animals in the mix on your big day…

When it comes to emerging trends, the current decade has seen some interesting ones thrown into the limelight. From practising yoga in a sauna, to people taking pictures of themselves lying down on famous monuments, and right back around to finishing a whole pint of some unorthodox concoction before nominating your friend to do the same in the name of charity.

Certain trends catch on quicker than others, while some trends don’t last the same duration of their creation. But, the use of animals on your special day is becoming more and more popular in today’s world.  Although some see the big day as the most important in their lives, it’s no wonder weddings are thoroughly thought out with plenty of stress along the way.

But the optimists among us will see the day as a celebration of love, life and understanding between two people, so why not fill it with things that give you those emotions? Lake District Country Hotels, whose wedding venues in Cumbria have hosted countless weddings, share their thoughts.


Despite the origins of animals being present at weddings is unclear, many countries with sacred religions include animals as part of their special days. Elephants are symbolic to religions in Asia, especially so in India where the trend has been apparent for centuries and still feature in many weddings to this day.

Due to the belief that elephants symbolise good luck and prosperity, their presence therefore goes hand-in-hand at weddings where religion is rife, a day where these notions play a vital part. A Baraat, is a groom’s wedding procession in Northern parts of India, where the groom will travel to the wedding venue atop a mare, or in some cases, an elephant, accompanied by his family members, with a sheathed sword on his person. Doves are commonplace at weddings and they have been enshrined as markers of love in many cultural traditions. From the Philippines to China, Ancient Greece and Rome, doves have been regarded heavily as symbols of purity, love, and devotion. 

The range of animals

Even though doves are probably the most common kind of animals used at weddings, some couples have decided that they are simply too much of a cliché, and now they are facing stiff competition from exotic animals such as monkeys, cobras, llamas, and even spiders.

However, with the range of animals being used, different ethical considerations are apparent. Releasing butterflies into the air just before a photo is taken, isn’t crossing any sort of ethical boundary, but plucking an elephant from its natural habitat to use as a party prop is another matter, argues PETA. Although the inclusion of exotic animals may seem like a nuptial novelty to some, campaigners have argued that the process that goes into training these animals to be fit for purpose isn’t ethical, claiming that these animals are subjected to cruelty in order to perform on the big day.

In more recent times, people are making a living from setting up businesses where bride and grooms can rent out animals for the day, from common domestic pets to unusual, ‘novelty’ types, all to be included in those perfect wedding shots. Elephants have been a part of traditional southern Asian ceremonies, whereby the groom arrives riding one of the magnificent creatures, decorated in extravagant jewellery. However, some American wedding businesses have cottoned on to this elaborate spectacle, claiming it as their own and embellishing the elephants uncomfortably. By using these animals in such a way, they become little more than a statement, and the abuse that they face is deemed worthwhile for the sake of the wedding. Various undercover operations have captured the extent of the cruelty which has been inflicted onto elephants under these circumstances, and many people have invested up to $6,500 (£4,992) in support of this treatment, at parades, corporate events, and festivals as well as at weddings. Public awareness has undoubtedly grown in relation to the issue, with ethical treatment being a key concern for many.

Doves can make the moments as man and wife truly breath–taking, releasing them to mark the celebration of your union with family and friends. However, some observers have also noted that doves come with their own set of ethical issues, as they are bred solely to be released and for this reason they are seen to lack survival skills.

Ethical options

If you decide to have animals at your wedding, then try and source your all–important guests ethically. Get in touch with a local llama shelter if you’d like a different kind of ring–bearer at your ceremony, or simply make the photographs unique with these furry accomplices. Consider a horse and carriage if you are looking to make a bold entrance on your big day, these majestic animals are quintessentially calm and regal, perfect for making the journey to the venue — a time to treasure forever. Some couples may even choose to make their venue an animal haven, by choosing animal sanctuaries or petting farms. By doing so, you can enjoy having a whole host of fluffy friends from micro pigs to lambs. This can be an alternative kind of wedding experience, that no doubt you and your guests will remember for years to come.

Walkies down the aisle

Want something slightly less exotic? Why not get your own pets involved in your ceremony; Dogs and cats have become an essential for couples saying, ‘I do’, with their four-legged friends acting as ring bearers. Some couples even choose to get their beloved felines and pooches dressed up, with replica bridesmaid dresses and suits becoming a popular novelty for couples who just can’t bear the thought of leaving their companions at home or in the kennels. Of course, there are still so many important considerations to make when it comes to bringing your pets along to your ceremony, for example if your furry friend has a shy temperament, then a wedding venue could be quite an overwhelming experience. Of course, you know your pet better than anyone else so this one is more a matter of judgement!

To conclude, animals at weddings can make the memories of your day last a lifetime, whether you choose a llama or simply get your favourite pooch to confirm yours and your partner’s love, by delivering your wedding rings. Some traditions use animals in a way which is less popular now, but it simply reflects the changes in perception of our counterparts from the animal kingdom.

We’re very proud to bring you this feature in association with Lake District County Hotels. For more features, please pay a visit to our lifestyle page.


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