The concept of animals at weddings isn’t new. Couples have always found ways to incorporate their furry friends into their ceremonies or receptions, whether it’s a horse-drawn carriage or a dog as a ring bearers. However, there seems to be one animal in particular that’s slowly showing up at more and more UK weddings: alpacas.
Yep, you read that right! According to The Telegraph, small alpaca farms throughout the United Kingdom have seen “a flurry” of bookings for weddings. Couples are hopping on the trend in a variety of ways, like having the animals walk down the aisle or even entertaining children at the reception. They are often a big hit with the wedding photographer, and a number of photos can be found on Instagram of alpacas in veils or adorned with flowers.
“Most weddings want it as a surprise for the guests,” said Stuart Ramsay, who runs Velvet Hall Alpacas in Innerleithen, Scotland. He noticed a rise in bookings after he first supplied a group of alpacas for a wedding at a local hotel.
“In the first year we did one or two weddings, now we are doing 7 or 8 a year,” he told The Telegraph. “It’s not everybody’s cup of tea but people who are interested in alpacas love it.”
Ramsay said he and others employed at Velvet Hall Alpacas will often stay “a couple of hours” so people can both meet the animals and take photos with them. Lucky Tails Alpaca Farm in Warwickshire, on the other hand, offers more of a specific plan — like the “Diamond” package at £350. This gets couples two alpacas for one-and-a-half hours, along with handlers and food for the animals.
Ramsay’s crew also brings food. “We look after the kids who want to take the alpacas around, and take carrots with them so the alpacas can be fed by the guests,” he said.
The animals are particularly popular with children, and Ramsay joked that he can sometimes feel like a “glorified babysitter.”
And it’s not just happening in the UK. Farms across the U.S. are popping up, too, such as Classy Camelids in Washington. Their llamas and alpacas are “first and foremost therapy animals that create joy in every senior living facility and special-needs school they walk into going on over 100 therapy and educational visits each year,” according to their website, but you can also hire them to entertain guests at your wedding (carrots to feed them included)! Hiring them for your big day will also help support animal assisted therapy in Vancouver, Washington & Portland, Oregon.