Ring bearers with feathers

Pastoral Messages | March 7, 2024

I don’t know how many times we’ve updated the Wedding Policy booklet at St. Paul. But it has to have been every couple of years, at least. Bridal couples often propose an idea they’ve read about in a magazine or thought up on their own, some new twist they believe will make their wedding feel perfectly magical. Magical is the operative word, I’ve discovered. Some of these ideas are workable, and we’re glad to implement them (and update the policy booklet); some are not feasible.  

Here’s one that’s gaining in popularity for outside weddings, though some churches in Britain are also allowing it for indoor ceremonies as well: A white barn owl serves as ring bearer. You read that correctly. Certain owls trained in falconry schools are delivering the wedding rings to the presiding minister, who must don a thick leather glove to escape the wrath of the bird’s talons. A small pouch with rings inside is tied to one of the owl’s legs. Advocates of the growing trend think it’s the perfect wow factor for a wedding. The birds are graceful. They’re white. They surprise guests. Proponents wonder what more one could ask for. 

Actually, these owl messengers present some challenges. A few years ago, an owl flew down the center aisle of a church in Britain and crashed into the best man, knocking him to the floor. In another ceremony, the ring-bearing owl fell asleep in the wooden rafters of the high sanctuary and completely missed the moment. In still another, the priest and groom couldn’t get the pouch untied and had to call for someone to find some scissors, as the bird’s agitation grew. Guests end up tracking and photographing the bird instead of following the wedding. 

We’re right in the process of revising our St. Paul wedding policy booklet again. None of us on the pastoral or music staff seem inclined to include a paragraph permitting owls to serve as ring bearers. But that’s this year. Who knows what trend will make the nuptial circuit next year? It could be alpacas or badgers or goats. Each one could have its own wow factor. I’m just not worrying about that right now. Someone else can guide the next revision of our wedding policy booklet.  

-Peter W. Marty, senior pastor

5 Comments on “Ring bearers with feathers”

  • Sue Grove

    March 8, 2024 at 2:01 pm

    When we got married at St Paul back in ’68 we remember some regulations about music. We remember “Indian Love Call” was forbidden. “I’ll be loving you, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh ooh, ooh.” We laugh every time we think of it!

  • Steven Witte

    March 8, 2024 at 11:12 am

    I’ve heard of dogs or cats, but owls? That’s a new one.

  • Cindy Marberry

    March 8, 2024 at 7:43 am

    Just when I thought I heard it all! Owls aren’t needed. What I would like to see/read is the magical biblical verse that touches their soul. It seems so much time, anxiety, type of venue has become the focus rather than renewing and reaffirming a person’s faith in God. Blessings!

  • Connie King

    March 7, 2024 at 1:42 pm

    Probably shouldn’t give anyone ideas . . . . 😉

    • Marcia Willi

      March 7, 2024 at 5:18 pm

      I agree no owls needed… lol

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