Pets As Ring Bearers?

I recently discovered a web site for a church that has a link to their wedding services page, and then yet another link with detailed information about how you can arrange to have your pet participate as the ring bearer in your ceremony. Then there was a link to a YouTube video taken at this church of a ceremony in which a dog was the ring bearer. It showed the handler walking the dog up the aisle, with the rings attached to its harness with ribbons. The dog made a few detours into a couple of pews to sniff up some of the guests, but he finally made it all the way up to the front of the sanctuary area, where he was given a treat.

Now I know that certain people have had all kinds of wacky weddings that have made the news – weddings in hot air balloons, planes, at a shopping mall, in parks, at beaches, on boats and ships, at a NASCAR event, and even crazier venues. I even knew a couple who got married during the intermission of a zany, crazy play. The play was so bizarre that the audience didn’t realize it was a real wedding, but thought it was just another part of the play. But the pet angle was new to me. I was surprised, but probably shouldn’t have been. I really like animals and am not opposed to their participation in one’s life in a meaningful way, but somehow I wasn’t quite sure how to react to this, the more I thought about it.

If a dog, then of course why not a cat? You could tie the rings to ribbons and attach them to a cat’s collar. The ribbons, of course, could be color coordinated to the theme colors of the bridesmaids’ dresses. Then a young child could carry the cat up the aisle. The cat could take the place of the traditional satin pillow. Probably would work best with a declawed cat. Or if you have a pet bird — a macaw, a parrot, a cockatoo – it could sit on the shoulder of one of the groom’s men and hold the rings in its mouth. Or a dove could fly up the center aisle with the rings. If you have a trained chimpanzee, it could walk up the aisle unassisted. Or if you are into horses, you could be married in a meadow, on horseback and have the rings on ribbons, braided into the horse’s mane. As you can see, the possibilities are almost endless.

I’m a real romantic and I like to think that marriage involves linkage to one’s soul mate. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that such a notion is pure folly. Many say that there is no such thing as a soul mate and that once the bloom is off the rose, the romantic love fades or bursts like a bubble, or crashes like a computer attacked by a virus. The rational part of my brain knows this, but some little piece of me wants to believe in the fantasy, and so I am still waiting for my soul mate to materialize. I think he is related to Godot and isn’t likely to appear. But if he does, I hope he keeps the pet home on our wedding day.

If my soul mate shows up, I would want the focus to be on love and commitment and perhaps some meaningful vows we wrote ourselves, or maybe my soul mate would sing a song to me – one he wrote himself. I know, I know, I need to get over myself. But it seems to me that if you involve your pet in your ceremony you are, in some way, sending the message that the vows and commitment are secondary, and it is all about staging and entertainment. The couple mentioned above who got married during the play got divorced a few years later, though there was no pet involved. What if the pet is just adorable and does a great job and you are upstaged? And for years, all the guests talk about is the dog, not how beautiful you looked in your dress, or how beautifully your partner sang to you? Even worse, what if something embarrassing happens with the pet? – use your imagination. It could go terribly wrong. For instance, a cat could get spooked, bolt, run away out the door and up a tree with the rings attached, and it would be hard to get it down. And then the videographer would capture it for all eternity and it would turn into a shameful debacle. And your mother-in-law would, no doubt, recall it at every family gathering until your twenty-fifth anniversary and remind you what a shameful mockery you made of a sacred moment.

If you have a pet in your wedding, how do you top that? What will you do for each anniversary? Your friends and family might expect more and more from you and it will get harder to come up with originally zany ideas. And what about cost? You just might be setting yourself up for big challenges. I have to admit, though, that it would be a great story to include in the yearly Christmas letter. I have a column in my yearly holiday letter that is written by one of my cats – they take turns each year writing it. Of course, it is written by me – my cats are clever but they haven’t yet learned to write. But I write it from the cat’s point of view.

I’m very big on wacky humor as you can see from my examples. It comes through in my writing here and there. I call upon it often when modern life gets to me, which is pretty frequently, given how life can be on occasion. Yet there are just a couple of areas where solemnity should still be honored. I might even allow for a bit of light humor in a wedding, but I think I’ll draw the line at pets.

What’s a modern, frolicsome yet committed couple to do? After all, all aspects of life have their yin and their yang. Maybe the pet introduces needed balance in the final analysis. And maybe the pet could participate in the wedding rehearsal, but not in the actual ceremony. This might be a viable compromise.

The jury is still out. Ask your friends what they think. This might be a great topic to kick around at a party that is starting to slow down – lively conversation after a few beers, or a few glasses of pinot grigio. Love, friends, pets, offbeat humor and a mild buzz. A great mix.

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About Connie

Connie Pursell is a baby boomer and a technical writer in the world of healthcare claims. Did Jesus Have a Cat? is her first book of essays. Connie misquotes Shakespeare: “Some are born quirky, some achieve quirkiness, and some have quirkiness thrust upon them.” She thinks she was born quirky but didn’t find her voice or full quirky potential until her later years. She grew up in Lancaster, California and earned a BA and an MA in English from Cal State University, Long Beach. In addition to essays, she also writes poetry – a couple of poems are included in the book. She is active in volunteer activities, makes beaded jewelry and lives in Laguna Niguel, CA with her three cats.