Being drawn to and from one’s wedding ceremony site isn’t a tradition grounded in religion or history, but I’d venture to call it an established tradition nonetheless (even if the romantic nature of the carriage ride is simply part of the idealized princess aesthetic that some brides like). The iconic horse drawn carriage, however, is one form of wedding transportation that the folks at PETA would like to see phased out, particularly in New York City.
Two members of the group felt so strongly about what they see as the plight of carriage horses that they staged a wedding and a protest at the same time. In full view of the line of carriages that wait for passengers in Central Park, they said their wedding vows, sliced their wedding cake, and drove off in an electric buggy festooned with a sign reading “JUST HITCHED and not to a Carriage!”
If [Paul Kercheval and Kelly Respess] have their way, a fleet of electric cars resembling vintage automobiles will replace the carriages – retaining, the couple says, Central Park’s old-world flavor while relieving the horses of their burden and being kind to the environment.
“We chose to get hitched. Those horses don’t have that choice,’” said Respess, who wore a fluffy, snow-white gown and carried a bouquet of red roses and white lilies.
Huh. Weddings paired with protests irk me more than a little, if only because you’ll have the rest of your lives to protest, but only one day to enjoy celebrating your newly created union with family and friends. Charitable wedding favors that contribute to an animal welfare organization are one thing; it seems a bit gauche to involve loved ones attending your wedding in a protest that they might not necessarily support or involve themselves in otherwise. One hopes that Kercheval and Respess at least warned their wedding guests that their PETA-endorsed ceremony would be held on a street corner.
That said, I have no doubt that some carriage drivers mistreat their horses, but I lived with two Central Park carriage drivers when I called New York home. They treated their horses like gold, even going so far as to buy a building in Manhattan and renovating it to create a state-of-the-art city stable. Besides the fact that their horses were an investment and their source of livelihood, they loved their animals like pets. They also trained their horses to feel comfortable with city life, e.g., honking cars, loud music, and pedestrians. The NY SPCA monitors the condition in which horses are kept by carriage drivers, and if there are signs of abuse, tighter regulations might be a better answer than banning the carriages altogether.
That’s my opinion… what do you think?