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Instead of having bridesmaids walk down the aisle holding flowers at her wedding , Sally Burky decided on a twist that was completely her style.
The animal lover had her bridesmaids walk down the aisle with adoptable shelter dogs.
"Initially (my husband and I) discussed having our own dogs in the wedding, but after thinking about that, I thought: 'How neat would it be to have animals that need homes instead of ours?'"
Burky reached out to Haven of the Ozarks Animal Sanctuary in Washburn, Missouri, to see if they would be willing to share some of their adoptable dogs for her wedding on May 11.
Sherah Farris, director of the no-kill shelter, had previously shared dogs for another adoption event at a wedding and said she was more than happy to help Burky spotlight dogs seeking a forever home.
“We have about 110 dogs at any given time," she said. "I waited until about seven days before (the wedding) and I picked dogs I knew could handle the stress of the new environment and can handle being around other dogs and strangers."
Is it a duck…or a dog? The Newfoundland breed has a water resistant coat and webbed feet. This dog was originally bred to help haul nets for fishermen and rescuing people at risk of drowning.
On the big day, the dogs were driven to Republic, Missouri, a little more than one hour away from the shelter, to take their places as members of the wedding party.
As the music played and it was time to start walking the aisle, each bridesmaid linked arms with a groomsman and had an adorable dog on a leash walking down the aisle alongside them.
Burky didn't get to see her guests initial reactions in person, since she was waiting to walk down the aisle. However, she said she looked at the video after and "everyone was smiling ear-to-ear!"
"The fact they were rescue dogs really hit a spot with people," she said.
She also dedicated part of her reception to the sweet furry friends who were part of her big day. Burky and her husband, Cary Burky, used their dollar dance — a tradition where guests pay to dance with the bride or groom — to raise money for Haven of the Ozarks and their mobile adoption events.
For a dog who loves to tear apart stuffed animals, make a durable activity ball with a Hol-ee rubber ball, scraps of fabric, and treats.
“Ever since we started dating, dogs, rescues, kittens is something he has always been a huge supporter of," Burky said of her now husband.
The couple have a pitbull mix, a German Shepherd and a cat at home.
The dogs piqued the interest of several of Burky's wedding guests, who wanted to learn more after the event, but they were too late! All but one of the dogs were adopted one week later. Only one of the dogs, a sweet girl named Yazzy, is still in need of a home.
If other brides are inspired by Burky's unique wedding idea, Farris recommends they reach out to a shelter close to their wedding venue.
“People are definitely going to be interested in doing this," she said. "Shelters want their animals to find homes. The whole mindset is adoption so we can save more!”