Don't Bring A Zoo To Your Wedding

This is a topic I've blogged about before, but in every incarnation, it gains another species.
08/28/2012 11:39 am ET Updated Oct 28, 2012

This is a topic I've blogged about before, but in every incarnation, it gains another species. Just recently, we had live doves -- lovebirds, if you will -- at an Iranian wedding ceremony here on Vieques Island, seven miles off the eastern tip of Puerto Rico. At the end of the Persian part of the wedding, the bride and groom lifted the birds out of their cage (ew!) and set them free together. Except the birds wouldn't fly away. Instead, they parked their fat, overfed, domestic Puerto Rican lovebird asses on the tree branch over the table where the Persian ceremony was held, and proceeded to poop.

Those damned birds would not fly away. If anybody was making a video, they would have caught me pointing east and telling them to head for the big island where the overly-indulgent MoB had obtained the birds for her daughter's big day. The birds, however, would not fly. And after the tree scenario, they proceeded to park themselves on the dinner table. Quite comfortably, right next to the bride Barbie doll leaning against the special champagne flutes. The birds were recaptured (not by me!) and put back into their cage and given to a relative as a gift (good luck getting that through the Agricultura check at San Juan airport), but at least the birds weren't my problem.

Which means the love birds were less stressful, although significantly more entertaining, than the fishbowl centerpieces with live fish that I made my first year in business. Oh gosh, the fish!!! Let's begin by saying that I have never gotten home from the county fair with a goldfish in a bag that didn't die on the way. Dogs I do fine with. Fish... not so much. But when my clients wanted live fish centerpieces for their wedding in my first year of business, I said "Okey dokey -- whatever you want." First, my husband Bill had to track down the only tropical fish dealer on Vieques, and then we had to cut a deal with her to return the fish after the reception. She just couldn't grasp (I'm sure my Spanish wasn't helping matters) that we only wanted those damned fish for a day. I was willing to pay her up front for hundreds of dollars in fish -- as long as she promised to take them all back the next day. And no, I didn't want a refund. Just pick up day of, return day after. Yeah, right.

Three days before the wedding, the FoB calls me in a panic. He's the pickup guy for the fish (I told you I have limits) and the fish store called him to say they have a sick relative on the big island and have to leave town immediately so he has to get the fish now. And the bride's parents have a house on Vieques Island, but it is too small to accommodate 30 kissing fish and 17 betas (all of which had to be kept in separate bowls so they wouldn't eat each other) on a wedding weekend.

What's a wedding planner to do? So I said, "Okay, bring the fish over." I was still working from home at the time and when he arrived with an entire big fish tank, and 17 giant to-go condiment cups holding betas, I almost died. But I took them. And at 4 a.m. the night before the wedding when I was trying to capture three pink and two yellow kissing fish for each big fish bowl, I was not thinking anything nice about the fish store lady, the bride or the fish!

If that wasn't enough, a couple of waitresses spent the night of the reception moving the damned little bowls of betas around because they were worried they were getting too much sun and it was animal cruelty (you wanna see animal cruelty? I dare you to move my fish again). They wanted to set them free in the ocean. Hello, they're not saltwater fish. Ay dios mio... I'm just a wedding planner, not a zookeeper.

The day after the wedding, the owner of the fish store wasn't reachable. Still on the big island with her sick family member. I don't know when she got back to Vieques -- she wisely never contacted us to reclaim her tank. After taking care of these stupid fish for an entire week, I finally gave them away to all of the kids in my neighborhood. Never again. Or rather, not without a hefty live-fish handling fee.

Several brides insisted on involving horses in their wedding ceremonies. This has gone well, and this has gone not-so-well. Not-so-well is defined as when the horse steps on your wedding gown train and you start screaming. On video. I like to tell the famous story of the bride who asked about elephant rides for her rehearsal dinner beach party my first year and how I actually researched it. It's not easy to find an elephant for rent in Puerto Rico. And even if you can, getting him to Vieques Island is a whole other ball of wax. Where do you keep him? Who cleans up after him? Again, these are not things I want to be dealing with as a professional event planner. If you want elephant rides, get married in India. I hear they're a bargain there.

I'll sign off with a word about dogs in weddings. I've seen it but I haven't done it myself for a client. The few clients who initially planned to bring dogs to Vieques (large and small) learned what all of us who live here already know, it's a huge pain in the ass. It can be done, but you may spend more money on your pup's ticket than your own. We have lots of dog-friendly venues if you must have your pooch, but getting him here is your problem.

Until next time happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!


Below, photos from some of the weddings Sandy has planned involving animals.

No Animals At Weddings