Although 40% to 50% of marriages end in divorce in the U.S., those rates might be a whole lot lower if most weddings featured lovable pups instead of expensive flowers. That’s what one bride is betting on anyway, after she decided to ditch the bouquets in favor of walking adoptable dogs down the aisle.
Despite the fact that 74% of people surveyed report mental health improvements from keeping animals as pets, there are still approximately 6.5 million companion animals that end up in U.S. shelters every year. Helping those animals is a cause that’s very personal to bride Sally Burky, who has made it a point to donate to a local shelter for the past several years. In fact, she adopted her own dogs from that facility, Haven of the Ozarks Animal Sanctuary Burky and her now-husband have also taken in strays, helped to foster animals in need, and spread the ethos of “adopt, don’t shop” among their friends and family.
So it’s only fitting that the couple decided to make rescue animals a huge part of their nuptials. While other brides have gone viral for carrying puppies during the ceremony, Burky decided to take things one step further by having each of her bridesmaids assigned to an adult dog from Haven of the Ozarks during the ceremony.
In an interview with People, Burky said of the big day: “It was incredible. I was already emotional from having our first look with my now-husband, and then seeing the dogs being unloaded… I just couldn’t hold back the tears. They were tears of happiness that they were here to be a part of my day, and, in some way, I was a part of their day too. I wanted to show what sweet and well-behaved animals the Haven has to offer as companions for individuals and families.”
Not only did Burky get to save money she would have otherwise spent on bouquets, but she also hoped that featuring these dogs so prominently would help them to find permanent homes. Sure enough, five of the six dogs featured in the wedding have already been adopted as a result. Burky and her husband are also offering to sponsor the adoption fee of the only dog left searching for a family to entice someone to adopt her — a fairytale ending, indeed.
To further their good deeds, the couple also held a dollar dance during their reception to raise donations for the shelter. The shelter says it plans to put the donations towards a new mobile adoption van, which allows staff to generate further awareness and transport animals to events in the hopes of finding “fur-ever” homes.
As Burky explained to People, “Animals don’t have a voice, but we do. By having them in our wedding, I wanted to share my compassion and show how important it is for us to be their voice. They count on us.”
In this case, it really is true that every dog has her day — and Burky was glad to give up all eyes being on her so that these pups could get the attention they deserve.