Sometimes they are pets, and sometimes they are unexpected guests from the wild. You just never know! I thought it would be fun to list the 8 different animals I’ve seen at beach weddings here on the Outer Banks of North Carolina during the last 14 years. You won’t believe a few of them, but honestly, it’s all true.


By far, the most popular non-human I see at weddings is the beloved family dog. They are often times part of the processional, and sometimes are even the official ‘Ring Bearer” (that’s a whole other Blog. Yikes!). I love it when dogs are in attendance for the Promise, and I’ve never seen a crowd not smile when the four legged family member makes his entrance.


We are blessed to have a lot of dolphins along the coast of the Outer Banks. And it’s very common to see dolphins swimming and playing on any given day. My back is to the ocean during the ceremony, but I can usually tell when a family of dolphins are attending the wedding because the guests will be staring and pointing at the beautiful sight. Only two times in the past 14 years of weddings have I seen the dolphins slamming their tales down like the photo above. It makes such a powerful sound that pounds into your chest. Both times I paused and said to the guests, “Let’s just take this in for a few moments”. It was surreal.


The Dove release is one of the popular ways I see beautiful animals involved in a wedding. There is a company here on the Outer Banks called “When Doves Fly”, and they do a wonderful job helping couples feel comfortable with the birds, and at the appropriate time in the ceremony, the doves are released with some pretty powerful symbolism of the day.


Horses roam free in the Carova area of the Outer Banks, and sometimes they mosey on over to check out the beautiful bride! The photo here was taken by Ryan with “Coastal Shots Photography” this past year in the 4×4 area. We just had to pause and watch for a few moments. It was so cool. And yes, the horses really are wild and free.


Pelican fly overs are very common at Outer Banks weddings. You’ll see them coming down the dune line, most of the time in the “V” formation. They are huge birds that you rarely see here on the ground, but their flight presence is a crowd favorite.


One morning a few years ago, Genevieve Stewart (one of the premiere wedding photographers on the OBX), caught this deer frolicking on the beach at one of our sunrise weddings at the Sanderling Resort in Duck, NC. I’ve only seen it happen that one time, and she was beautiful.


Have you ever seen the wedding element of a Butterfly Release? As beautiful as they are, I’ve never seen it work really well. The butterflies are usually lethargic and not interested in flying in the beach breeze. The symbolism is well meaning, but it usually gets lost in mechanics of the moment. I’ve seen a lot of brides cringe just like this one. Too funny.


The #1 most unusual animal I’ve ever seen attend an Outer Banks wedding was about 10 years ago in Nags Head, NC. We were in the beach house where the West Virginia bride says, “Jay, I want to introduce you to Rocky!” There she was, standing in her wedding gown, holding a live raccoon pet that they brought from home. Unreal!!!!

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