Vet Couple Picks Pet Tortoise as Ring Bearer for Wedding: "The Slowest Walk Down the Aisle'

Exotic animal veterinarians Ericka and Jay Johnson, who first met while doing a wild tortoise survey, knew their pet tortoise Tom Shelleck had to be part of their Arizona wedding

Kennedy News / Kimberly Gaiser
Photo: Kennedy News/Kimberly Gaiser

Exotic animal veterinarians Ericka and Jay Johnson first met while doing a wild tortoise survey 20 years ago, so it felt right for their beloved Sulcata tortoise, Tom Shelleck, to be part of their wedding celebrations.

The couple gave Tom the important role of ring bearer for their big day at Tohono Chul Botanical Gardens in Tucson, Arizona. To ensure the tortoise made it down the aisle, Erika and Jay had the walkway dotted with strawberries so the 'always hungry' Tom could follow the snacks to the altar.

Despite initial concerns that he may nibble some painted toenails mistaking them for fruit, Tom was a great ring bearer and was the "center of attention" at the wedding.

The 20-year-old reptile crept down the aisle with a floral basket holding the rings attached to his shell for the nuptials. Tom also posed with Ericka and Jay for their wedding portraits.

"He could have had the slowest walk down the aisle in history," Erika told SWNS of Tom's big moment. "We'd practice to see how long it would take, and we ended up having to have two songs played so that we'd have enough time, and we still almost ran out of songs."

The couple estimates that it took Tom three minutes to get down the aisle, while it took everyone else a matter of seconds.

"He started at the end of the aisle and went and grabbed the strawberries in a row, and once he was to the front in the wedding, the officiant took the rings off the little arrangement that was attached to the back of his shell," Erika said.

"I was proud of how he did. I think he did great, and we're really happy with how everything went," the bride added.

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