I knew the dove was symbolic of peace, but I never really associated it with love, other than the fact that they rhyme. Then again, I never had a bunch of spare pigeons, a case of white spray paint, and the desire to run my own small business in the fast-growing wedding industry.
An upcoming “bridal expo” advertised in our local paper will feature a number of companies that’ll have the chance to sell stuff to prospective brides in search of their perfect day. Most businesses offered traditional goods and services like flowers, gowns, tux rentals, shotguns, and the like. One that stood out from the others, though, was a firm called “Carolina Doves.”
This is a company that will bring a caged flock of doves to your wedding and release them at the moment of your choosing. According to their website, the doves then “usually circle overhead several times, allowing the crowd to fully admire their beauty” and allowing the happy couple’s hearts to soar in a similarly brief fashion. This “breathtaking touch” can be scheduled at any point in the ceremony you like. Though most people choose to release the birds as the newly-minted husband and wife emerge from the church, they can also be released from the best man’s car trunk as a practical joke, or from beneath the bride’s dress when she symbolically removes her garter.
It’s a while since I’ve been to a wedding but I don’t remember birds playing such an essential role. I’ve attended several ceremonies since moving to South Carolina that feature pigs-in-a-blanket among the reception hors d’oeuvres, though they usually didn’t get up out of the warming tray and swoop above the heads of guests in attendance.
I guess I can imagine how a white dove release (fully sanctioned by the American White Dove Release Association, or AWDRA, by the way) would inspire an eternal and precious memory for the bride. I suppose most grooms would also go along with the idea, if anybody had bothered telling them about it ahead of time. I would hope there aren’t more than a few who would drop the ring and head for their pickup truck and hunting rifle, eager to blow a few of the majestic critters out of the sky.
I was interested to learn more about this seemingly over-the-top amenity, so I visited the company’s website and picked up the following information from the “Frequently Asked Questions” portion.
Where do the doves go after they are released?
They circle to get their bearings and then fly immediately back to their nesting boxes, food and water.
How do they know to return home to their loft?
It is thought that they navigate by being able to sense the earth’s magnetic field.
What type of training do the doves receive?
Taking them out from short to longer distances improves their navigational skills.
Why won’t you release the doves at night?
They cannot see very well at night, and may fall prey to an owl or other night predators. Being white, they stick out like a sore thumb.
Can’t I just use the doves that I can find in a pet store?
These are turtledoves. They are poor fliers and should never be released into the wild. They will fall prey to dogs and cats … more embarrassing though is that they won’t fly more than a few feet from where you released them.
How do you prevent the doves from making a mess on the guests?
Our doves have a special diet before your big event so they can perform at top levels. They also fly with their feet tucked up underneath so they won’t soil themselves. While we can never 100% guarantee that a mess may not happen, it is very unlikely.
Though Carolina Doves won’t be pushing this package at the bridal expo, they can also be hired for “all special occasions,” including sporting events, grand openings, and funeral services. Funeral services? Won’t there already be enough woe and remorse going on without the spectacle of panicked doves flying beneath the ceiling of a church or funeral home, desperately looking for their way out?
Possible telephone transcript of a typical call to Carolina Doves:
Caller: Hi, there. Our daughter is getting married this June and my wife has roped me into helping make some of the arrangements. You’re the dove people?
Carolina Doves: Yes, that’s right.
Caller: Well, the wedding is in the afternoon, and then right after, all the guests will be staying for a formal dinner.
CD: We could have the doves ready for either event, as long it’s before dark.
Caller: That sounds great. We have a hundred people on the guest list, so I guess we’re going to need a hundred doves.
CD: Well, you don’t necessarily have to have one for every guest. Any number of people can enjoy them.
Caller: I imagine they’re on the small side, though, so I better sign up for a hundred.
CD: Okay, we can do that.
Caller: Now, how exactly are they prepared?
CD: We take care of all their training and their transportation to your wedding location.
Caller: Oh … I didn’t realize there was training involved.
CD: I promise you, they will be a delight.
Caller: Okay, well, can I get half of them roasted, and half of them fried?