A steadily growing variety of wedding industry
businesses that hire out various exotic animals and
birds means that you will have plenty of choice. All
animals-for-hire come with a handler, with one
notable exception. Some are hired out for photo-ops.
Some have been trained to participate in your
ceremony, usually by presentation of your rings. And
some are provided just to be released
Zoos, theme parks that include animals, safari
parks, and aquariums can be a great choice if you
want to include animals in your photos without
having to take responsibility for them in any way -
in other words, the staged animal photobomb where
you stand in front of an enclosure so that animal
curiosity does the rest, or where you can enter an
enclosure and have the animals around you.
More and more rural properties are diversifying by
hosting weddings. Some of these properties are
farming more exotic domesticated animals,
including camels, various species of goats,
alpacas, llamas, and unusual breeds of cattle.
Many also offer accommodation and/or camping
faclities from very basic all the way up to
glamping. Interaction with animals may be
part of the deal. But even if it isn't, the most
ordinary farm animals can create unexpectedly
magic moments. Years ago I married a couple in the
garden of Birches Restaurant up on Mount Mee.
Cattle on the adjoining property were grazing a
long way off. During the ceremony, they moved
across the paddock, very quietly and politely,
until, by the time I declared the couple married,
they were lined up right at the fence. They seemed
completely riveted by the romance of the occasion.
The line of cows made a backdrop better than any
arch or arbour. Magic photos.
Australia has more than its fair share of wild
creatures doing their thing and tamed by no-one.
Birds are everywhere. Many bush areas around
Brisbane are home to wallabies and kangaroos that
happily venture onto golf courses and other areas
in suburbia. Whether you are in the city or in the
country, you will encounter them. When they put in
an appearance they add a hugely charming surprise
element to your wedding, one that guests
adore. At certain outdoor locations in
Brisbane you can virtually guarantee that an
eastern water dragon or two will put in an
appearance. I love them, and over the years have
learned a trick or two to encourage them to hang
around. Visits from cockatoos, galahs, and
lorikeets might also add an ooh-ah element.
Uninvited and unwelcome
Get married outside, particularly in summer,
almost anywhere in Australia and uninvited
wildlife will turn up, particularly flies, midges,
and mosquitoes. I've also had a wedding invaded by
green ants. It pays to check the site out
thoroughly, and make sure to pack the bug spray
and wipes. Unless you plan to release butterflies.
Bug spray will kill butterflies.
Some can also be a problem. apart from noise
(crows and cockatoos are notorious) - ubiquitous
bin chickens (ibis), in Brisbane and other areas,
to say nothing of seagulls, and swooping magpies.
Which leads me to suggest that food, birds, and
wedding ceremonies don't mix. Leave the picnic
until after the official proceedings.
In the warmer months snakes are on the move.
Occasionally I will have a couple eloping to
Brisbane from elsewhere who are concerned about
snakes. The good news is that snakes at a wedding
are a rare occurrence, given they tend to avoid
people. I've heard a story or two about weddings
where a snake put in an appearance but I stress it
is a very rare occurrence simply because couples
tend to choose for an open area, away from
undergrowth, for their ceremony site, and movement
of people preparing the site sets up enough
vibration of the ground to scare off any snakes
that might be in the vicinity.
For many people, potentially some of your guests,
using animals for entertainment is something to be
avoided. While they would, like you, regard your
furkids as family, and therefore have no problem
with cats, dogs, or horses, hiring exotic
creatures to perform at your wedding could be
divisive, regardless of how careful you have been
to deal only with reputable businesses that ensure
that the welfare of the animals is first priority.
Very early in your wedding planning you will also
need to ensure that the venue you have chosen will
be safe for the animals you plan to hire, and that
any flowers and plants you intend to use in floral
decorations, bouquets, and boutonniere's are safe
if the animals choose to help themselves to a
nibble. Many popular wedding flowers are toxic to
I definitely advise that having a backup plan if
conditions on the day mean that a reputable
handler will not allow a hired animal to
participate. Or at the very least be prepared to
accept that decision with good grace.
without being controversial
Your wedding is a beautiful opportunity to
showcase your values and interests. If your
interests extend to animals there are many ways to
include them in your wedding without having them
present in the flesh, as it were.
- Add them to your theme, or theme your
wedding around them, featuring models or
graphic representations of your chosen animal
in wedding decor, items you use in your
ceremony, table and aisle decorations, or as
additions to bouquets or the lapels of the men
in the wedding party
- Host your wedding or reception at a wildlife
sanctuary that allows you to have the animals
at your event and protect them at the same
- Add an animal charity, rights organisation,
or sanctuary to your wedding registry, asking
guests to make a donation in your names
- Sponsor an animal instead of providing
bonbonniere (favors) for your guests and put
the details on each table
Thanks for reading!