This is not a drill!
Somewhere out there, in the world, are sweet, available therapy llamas — with access to formal wear — that want to be part of your wedding.
This is a special service offered by Mtn Peak Therapy Llamas & Alpacas in Oregon, a non-profit group that brings certified therapy llamas and alpacas to senior homes, classrooms, children’s hospitals and more.
“Five years ago, we received a request for our certified therapy llamas, “Rojo” and “Smokey” to attend a wedding for a couple whose friend had told them about seeing our animals dressed up for a charity fundraiser. We jumped at the opportunity, as we had always thought it would be a very fun and unique experience, as well as a fabulous way to entertain guests! After posting photos of that wedding onto Rojo’s Facebook page, we started receiving more invites, and the requests have nearly doubled every year since!” Lori Gregory, the founder of the non-profit, told PEOPLE.
Looking at Rojo (the long-haired, auburn llama) and co., it’s no surprise they are on so many “must invite” lists. The animal attendees always come to events in costume and are often the most well-behaved guests. Plus, they are a hit with the less interesting human guests.
“Initially, the guests all tend to gasp in surprise and break out in laughter to first see our animals there — then they are so amazed to see how calm, friendly and interactive our boys are that they all want to give them hugs, ‘carrot kisses,’ and take lots of selfies! It’s always fun to see the transformation of those that start out a bit nervous, but after a short time can’t stop hugging them,” Gregory added.
Since they are certified therapy animals, the llamas and alpacas who come to the weddings are comfortable around people and enjoy being in lively places where there are plenty of happy folks who want to feed them treats. To ensure the safety of the animals, there are some limitations. Llamas and alpacas will not travel to events during peak traffic hours, or make appearances in extreme heat, ice or snow. Outside of these restrictions, these fluffy cuties are happy to be part of your special day.
“Our fellas are very versatile, sometimes they greet guests as they arrive, are part of the actual ceremony and take photos with the guests and wedding party at the reception. Often they are invited just to the reception to surprise the guests, or the bride and/or the groom. They are also great entertainment if children are present, and become restless during the ceremony,” Gregory said.
The best part of inviting these special guests to your private event (wedding, graduation party, birthday, etc.) is that the appearance fee goes to Mtn Peak’s therapy and education program, so those in need can experience the joy and comfort these animals can bring.
“During the mid-week, we take our animals out nearly every day to visit inside our local senior homes, rehab facilities, schools, children’s hospitals, and for many special-needs groups of all ages,” Gregory explained. “Some unique features of llamas and alpacas that set them apart from other therapy animals are that they can handle extensive and aggressive hugs because they are used to neck-wrestling and chest-butting one another while they play, so it’s really difficult to over-stress our llamas … llamas and alpacas also let you come right up close and gaze into their beautiful eyes without feeling threatened and are very gentle to feed.”
If you think these quirky, endearing and well-mannered wedding guests would fit in at your wedding or special event, you can learn more at Mtn Peak’s website. Unfortunately, the non-profit is limited to where it can travel, mostly serving the Portland area. For those of us stuck elsewhere, you can follow all the fluffy fun at @weddingllamas on Instagram.