I have only had one couple, Jenifer and Daniel conclude their wedding ceremony with the release of two beautiful doves. Or if you want to get technical - white birds. I had another bride who desperately wanted to include this in her ceremony, but couldn't make the arrangements in time. It does require a little bit of planning.
The ritual is quite lovely and makes for a splendid photo opportunity, but it is not available in all areas. Dove release companies usually have a limited geographical range as the birds are not taken more than approximately 100-125 miles from their homes. Do a web search for white dove release and the name of the state within which you will be getting married to find a suitable company within range.
Doves have long symbolized what we consider essential elements of a strong and healthy marriage. Devotion, fidelity, affection and partnership. Doves woo their mates and then mate for life. We witness them kiss and touch their partners gently. Partnership is demonstrated by the male selecting a site for the nest and bringing the building materials while the female approves the location and arranges the nest. The appearance of the white dove symbolizes purity and hope. A long-standing superstition says that if doves are seen on your wedding day, the bride and groom are assured of a home filled with happiness, love, fidelity and prosperity.
I place the ritual at the very end of the ceremony after the couple have kissed. It make a great transition between the Declaration of Marriage and a formal Introduction of the Couple. The officiant can include an explanation of the symbolism of the birds similar to what I've described above or conclude with these wimple words.
Officiant: As a gesture to seal their vows, (bride and groom) will now release these two pure white birds.
<couple releases birds>
They fly upwards and circle above us, then will return home together as a pair. They symbolize (bride and groom) beginning their journey in life together. (Bride and groom) our prayers, hopes and dreams go with you as you being your marriage, may your union be long, rich, harmonious and rewarding. May your union capture all the wonderful qualities of the white dove--devotion, fidelity and mutual support. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my joy and an honor to present to you for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. _____!
If you are getting married in Florida you can check out the The Florida White Dove Directory to see if the service is available at your wedding venue.
Photo Attribute: Sara and Jason of Concept Photography