[A] brideâ€™s secret plan for a barn owl to swoop to the altar with the wedding rings attached to tassels on its feet went awry when the bird had other ideas and fell asleep.
The ceremony had to be put on hold when the owl, called Darcy, took to the rafters of the 900-year-old church that was hosting the ceremony and stayed there.
It remained perched high above the guestsâ€™ heads at the Holy Cross Church in Sherston, Wilts, for an hour, during which time it dozed off.
After repeated failed attempts to coax it down, Rev Chris Bryan decided to continue the ceremony using a back-up set of rings.
He said: “It would have been absolutely superb if it worked. It was a lovely idea and it was supposed to be really stunning.
“It was a complete surprise to the groom, although the bride was in on it. It was the bride’s mother’s idea.
“The groom is into falconry as a bit of a hobby and so it was secretly arranged for two falconers to suddenly appear at the moment when the best man hands over the rings.
“This chap popped up at the front of the church next to us with a gauntlet on, as another chap appeared at the back of the church with a box.
“The owl appeared, and took a bit of coaxing to take to flight.
“It paused for a little bit, eventually saw the gauntlet, and then took off.
“But instead of landing on the arm of the man by us and delivering the rings it went up over our heads and landed up in the roof space.â€
“The idea was it would be amazing and would swoop over the heads of the guests, and they’d all feel the air rushing from its wings, but it didn’t quite work like that.”
The couple and their guests were able to see the funny side, however, and there was a plan B in place, he added.
“They say never work with animals, so we had a back-up pair of rings,â€ Rev Bryan said.
“After a few minutes, we gave up trying to get it down and carried on. It was actually rather nice when we went up for prayers and the owl was right above us.”
The couple, from Oxfordshire, had left the church by the time Darcy was finally brought back down, with the aid of a long ladder.
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.