You've always dreamed of celebrating your wedding with a rush of white wings as doves are released into the sky. There are few sights more romantic than dozens of pure white birds winging to freedom above your wedding site. However, the grace and beauty of a dove release can quickly turn to horror if your doves are caught, stranded, or killed in front of your guests. Be sure that your dove release is humane, safe, and peaceful by following the tips below.
Fly Away Home
It takes time and energy to train doves so that they will return home after they are released, and some unscrupulous companies try to turn a profit by ignoring this crucial step. If you use birds that have not been properly trained as homing pigeons, the birds will not know what to do when they find themselves abruptly flying above your wedding. Instead of flying back to the safety of their handlers, they will become disoriented and look for a place to roost near your reception site. This usually spells danger for the doves, as they will be unable to find food in the unfamiliar location and will become easy prey for predators. Be sure that the company you're considering uses properly trained doves.
Use Healthy Birds
With a reputable dove release company, the birds will have been raised carefully with a nutritious diet, roomy habitats, and proper medical attention. Not only is this important if you want to release beautiful white birds that fly flawlessly, but it's also important to realize that you're releasing the birds into a natural habitat; you don’t want to expose the local birds to infection. If you're using healthy doves, they should take to the air with strong wing beats as soon as they are released.
Fair Weather Friends
Responsible dove handlers will not allow you to release their birds unless the weather conditions are just right. While this can be disappointing in cases where the outdoor conditions are beyond your control, it is also the sign of a company that truly cares for its animals. After all, you don’t want to release beautiful white birds into the air only to have them show up on the ground a few days later. This happens, unfortunately, more often than you'd think. Proper dove releases take place during pleasant weather (not too rainy or windy) and no less than two hours before sunset (so the birds have time to find their way home). If you release doves too late in the day, they will try to roost for the night in an unfamiliar area instead of heading home to safety, and will become a tasty treat for predators. Finally, it goes without saying, but doves should only be released outdoors.
Close to Home
While most doves are trained to cover large distances, longer journeys home mean encountering more dangers for the birds. Whenever possible, hire dove release companies that are local to your area–less than 100 miles away from your release location is optimal. Be wary of companies that promise to ship you birds in the mail. These birds will not have received the proper training to find their way back from your location, and will almost certainly become disoriented and lost.
Use a Professional
As tempting as it may be to order a box of doves and orchestrate your own dove release, it's crucial that you have a trained bird wrangler on hand. Not only will the dove handler be able to scout out your location for potential bird hazards (overhead wires are just one of many), but experts in dove handling will also be able to time the birds' feeding exactly right. If fed properly, the doves will have absolutely zero chance of soiling your guests' hats as they fly away. Unless you're intentionally looking for funny "wedding horror stories" to tell later, it's really not worth the risk.
While it's essential to find a company that treats its doves well and keeps them healthy, it's also important to keep in mind that the release is for your wedding. Look for company representatives that dress presentably and treat you and your guests with respect. Good customer service is always important. Your dove release company should be easily reachable should you have questions. Also, be sure to ask about the company's refund policy. Most companies will gladly give you your money back if the release needs to be canceled by bad weather or other elements outside of your control.
Symbols of Peace and Love
White doves are graceful, beautiful birds. They are symbols of peace, love, luck, and prosperity. As you release doves at your wedding, their flight will become a metaphor for the new married life you are creating. You and your partner are taking flight together on a new and exciting path. Take care, do your research, and find a reputable company, and your dove release will be every bit as beautiful as you dream.