I know I’ve been quiet this week — we’ve been busy preparing for a big wedding on Valentine’s Day. Tori Johnson and Victor Velazquez will exchange vows on Saturday and host a fabulous wedding reception afterwards. Their guests have already started arriving on the island and that’s been keeping me on my toes. But I wanted to blog real quickly about something that has been coming up a lot lately with my newer brides. The topic is using live animals in your wedding ceremony or reception decor.
Before we even venture down this road, let me say that the vast majority of pictures you’re seeing in magazines where they use live animals are staged — they’re not real! Or at the very least, the picture was staged at a real event. That means you’re only seeing the pretty part of things, not the part where the horse craps during the ceremony, the dog takes off with the ring pillow to chase a bird, or the fish go belly up in the bowl that is the centerpiece of your dinner table.
Weddings are complicated enough without adding wholly unreliable factors — like live animals. Believe me when I say that just getting all the humans where they’re supposed to be when they’re supposed to be there is challenge enough. Adding horses, dogs, geese, doves, fish, butterflies, or a myriad of other whacky animals to the mix is often the straw that broken the camel’s back when it comes to keeping the chaos under control.
I think Martha Stewart must be showing weddings on horseback or something this year based on the number of girls who’ve been requesting that we use horses in their wedding ceremonies lately. It’s one thing to have the groom arrive on horseback and then we lead the horse away someplace else during the ceremony, but I really had to battle it out with a bride who wanted to tie the horses to the flower arch, under which they are getting married, for the duration of the ceremony. This gave me nightmares for several reasons.
1 – I imagined the horses eating the flowers right off the arch during the ceremony.
2 – I imagined the horses getting spooked and taking off, attached to the flower arch, that would come crashing down (all 300 pounds of it) on the bride, groom and the minister.
3 – I imagined the horses, tied in very close proximity to the entire wedding party, choosing the exact moment of the ring exchange to relieve themselves loudly and messily right next to the bride’s white gown. Yuck!
If you want to use horses, it’s absolutely imperative that you have a trained handler on site to remove the horses during the actual ceremony.
Dogs have always shown up in weddings occasionally, but not in destination weddings. Now that small dogs have become more of an accessory than a pet, I’m getting a lot of those requests. Nevermind the massive pain in the ass associated with getting your dog down here, there are a limited number of accommodations on the island that are considered “pet friendly.” Meanwhile, you’re busy running around to wedding events all week where you cannot bring Fido — the nail shop, the hair salon, restaurants, the bio-bay, the beach, etc. — and Fido is left behind, locked up in an unfamiliar house to eat his way through your security deposit.
Unless Fido is a trained actor, he’s going to have a tough time with his ring bearer job on the big day. Convincing him to walk down the aisle with your rings attached to his collar or a pillow mounted on his back is going to be interesting. And when he takes off barking during your ceremony because a crab caught his attention, well… let’s just say that’s going to be distracting. And let’s just hope he’s not still wearing the rings when he decides to dig to china, dousing everybody in your front row with sand. Hey, I’m not a party pooper. I’m a realist.
Live fish as centerpieces are another nightmare. I know it might sound like I’m making a big deal out of nothing, but trust me. I know. I’ve done it. I had a bride who wanted three pink and three yellow kissing fish in each centerpiece bowl on the dinner tables, and smaller fish bowls with colorful betas sprinkled across the bar, buffet and cocktail tables. I won’t even go into the words I used when I was up at 3 am chasing fish around a tank trying to get the right color combos to swim into my little net for placement in the bowls. I will tell you that they turned out really cool and they looked really good. But one of the servers kept moving the bowls because she was worried about the fish (you guessed it — she doesn’t work any of my events anymore) and I took a ration of crap from the animal activists on the island who heard about it. It was stupid really — and none of their business — not a single fish died in the decorating for that wedding. The nightmare was entirely mine in acquiring, caring for and finding homes for all the fish after the big day. Next time I’m going to charge nothing less than a $1,000 handling fee for live fish. So don’t even ask.
I could go into more and more detail about other live animal debacles, but I think you get my point. Believe me when I say that you and the groom and your wedding party are more than enough live entertainment at the wedding and reception. There’s just no need to complicate your life and mine with a prop that has to be fed, babysat, walked, and picked up after. If you’re looking for a challenge, have a couple of flower girls instead of just one. That makes things insane enough when you’re going down the aisle.
Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!