A SPECIAL guest was invited to the wedding of Rob Sharpe and Joanne Allen – a barn owl called Ollie.
And he played a vital role in the couple’s wedding ceremony at St Matthew’s Church, Rastrick, delivering the wedding rings to the altar.
Guests at the wedding were amazed to see the owl soaring past them towards the altar with the rings in a small bag attached to his feet.
The owl was meant to fly straight down the aisle from the back of the church and towards the altar where a handler would be waiting for it. But on the big day the owl felt the pressure and decided to fly around the church for a while before swooping down towards the altar.
But having the owl at the wedding added the ‘wow factor’ for bride Joanne who is a lover of wildlife.
“We went to Thorp Perrow, a bird life centre in Bedale during Easter week and they were giving a display with the owl,” said Joanne.
“I had seen photos of owls doing this kind of thing before and heard about it on the internet.
“I managed to persuade Rob to go through with it because I just thought it would be a bit different and a treat for the children. Rob just said as long as you can find a vicar and a church where we can have the owl then we can go for it.
“The vicar, Matthew Pollard, was really excited about it when we mentioned it and gave us permission to book the owl.
“No one, apart from us and the vicar, knew about it until it flew down. But I just thought it would be something different that other people haven’t had.
“I love wildlife and birds of prey so the fact that I could incorporate it into the wedding was fantastic.”
Mr Pollard, who conducted the service, said: “It was a really exciting way to draw attention to a very important and special part of the ceremony where the couple exchange their rings which is a symbol of their enduring love.”
The barn owl was provided by Talon Falconry near Ripon.