As many people would attest, their wedding day is one of the happiest days of their lives. Affirming your love for another in front of friends and family, dancing into the night, sharing fond memories (okay fine, sometimes they are embarrassing) from your former life … and let’s not forget about the food!

Weddings can certainly be a joyous event, but unfortunately, not all weddings are fun for everyone involved. For instance, one popular wedding ceremony trend is “dove releases” to celebrate the newly-minted nuptials.

White doves, who belong to the same family as pigeons, are seen as symbols of love and peace and represent the bride and groom as they begin their life together in purity. The connection between white doves and love is nothing new: Aphrodite, the goddess of love in Greek mythology, was often associated with doves.

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It’s easy to think: well, what’s wrong with releasing doves into the air? The bride and groom are freeing the birds, how could that be a bad thing?

What many people don’t know is that doves released into the air for weddings, funerals, prayers, and blessings are a custom based on cruelty.

Bred with No Survival Skills

According to National Geographic, there are no pure white doves in the natural world. White doves are from hundreds of years of domestication and breeding. But once the doves are released and fly away into the sky … surely they can survive, right? Not so much.

White doves, as well as other birds, are sold with no survival skills. White doves are bred specifically for release and because they are flock animals, they have very little chance of surviving on their own when released at weddings, or any event. In other words, sending a white dove into the air after they have been kept confined for their entire lives in a cage, is the same as abandoning a family dog in the woods miles away from their home.

What’s more, the release confuses the doves. Doves are diurnal, meaning they are most active in the daytime, so if the release is at night, the dove are automatically put at a disadvantage. The doves dissipate into the night and come morning, they are on their own.

If they don’t happen to find a flock of pigeons or other doves to join with, they won’t survive. And even if they do find a bird group to join, the doves are still disorientated and will remain an easy target for predators, such as hawks.

In 2014, the Vatican released doves as a symbol of peace, only to have a black crow and seagull immediately attack the newly released doves. Doves who are released will suffer and die, all in the name of tradition.

Alternatives to Dove Releases

Just like the bride and groom of a wedding, doves also want their happily ever after. These birds, like all animals, want to live in peace, not forced to be a representation of peace. If you want to host a compassionate wedding ceremony, there are many cruelty-free options to choose from that don’t include release live animals.

Choosing an animal sanctuary as your wedding venue is not only a wonderful and compassionate idea to celebrate love, you’ll also be able to educate your guests about animals, some of which they maybe have never met in person. This way, instead of participating in the cruel custom of a “dove release,” instead you and your guests will be able to enjoy the many animals living their lives free from harm.

Do you have an alternative to a “dove release” that you incorporated into your wedding day? Be sure to share in the comments! And please, also share this post in your network to help us educate those who don’t know the hidden cruelty behind releasing doves at weddings. It’s important to keep our feathered friends happy!

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