Brides Are Using Puppies Instead of Flowers and We’re Not Sure How to Feel

The intention is good but...dogs as props? 

A story is circulating about a Charlotte, North Carolina-based bride who decided she wanted to have puppies at her wedding. So the outspoken animal lover brought in nine dogs from the Greater Charlotte SPCA and used them in lieu of bouquets for her bridal party photoshoot.

The bride—an adoption advocate who shares four rescues with her now-husband—told PEOPLE, “This is near and dear to my heart and to be able to bring awareness to the need for adoptions—that was the best part of my wedding. Besides marrying Brett of course!”

The happy ending is that the stunt worked—all but one of the dogs had been adopted at the time of publication. Bonus: The newly married couple made a generous donation to the SPCA.

The thing that concerns us? The dogs-as-décor trend. The Charlotte bride was inspired by a Pennsylvania bride who did the same dog awareness campaign at her own wedding, using puppies from PItties.Love.Peace, where the bride worked.

Both of these brides are obvious dog lovers who wanted nothing more than to bring their passion for adoption into the most special day of their lives. We know they had the absolute best intentions and we are thrilled that they were true animal rights advocates. But copycat brides may simply see “adorable props” with little consideration for the dogs’ welfare.

In the same way that people give chicks and bunnies on Easter because it’s cute (and then they wind up in shelters), people using puppies as props can set a bad precedent. Wedding boards reveal brides asking how they can use puppies as bouquets (clearly it is about the aesthetic and not the message) and even worse—we found boards with brides who have been “inspired” to give puppies as wedding favors (SERIOUSLY?!).

Yes, puppies are the cutest thing in the entire world, but they are also a huge 15-year commitment that require serious forethought, energy, and financial means. In the same way you shouldn’t give a puppy as a gift, you also shouldn’t treat puppies as props—it sends the message of “puppies are meant to be cute,” rather than “puppies are meant to be cared for permanently.”

If you are passionate about animals, there are plenty of ways to incorporate adoption awareness into your wedding—links on your wedding website, asking for shelter donations in lieu of gifts, including your rescue dogs in your ceremony, educational dog-themed favors. These will all raise plenty of awareness with your guests—without using live dogs as décor.

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