A Church of Scotland minister was sworn to secrecy by a bridegroom when he officiated at a traditional wedding ceremony with a twist.
Karl Wilkinson surprised his bride, Emma-Jane, by having their wedding rings delivered by a trained barn owl when they got married in St Andrew’s Wallace Green Church in Berwick.
The Rev Adam Hood, who officiated at the service, said: “The owls had a deep symbolic meaning for the couple, so I was very pleased to take part in what was a very happy occasion.
“The service was completely traditional until it came time for the exchange of rings.”
Mr Wilkinson took a few steps off to the side, put on a white glove and held out his arm as the bird flew down from the back of the aisle.
Owls have become a popular feature at weddings in recent years, perhaps because of the popularity of JK Rowling’s schoolboy wizard Harry Potter who has his own owl to deliver messages.
But for Mr Wilkinson, 43, and Mrs Wilkinson, 33, who both work at Tesco and have been partners for the last decade, the barn owls have a far deeper meaning.
The bride said the special delivery made the dayfor her.
“We lost Karl’s father to cancer last year when we were planning the wedding,” she said. “He was a fantastic artist and he loved to draw owls. The first picture he gave me was of an owl, so it had a very special meaning for us.
“We felt like he was there with us, and it turned what could have felt like an upsetting absence into a very special and meaningful time.
Mr Wilkinson’s mother Anne Purvey, his sister Sarah Short and her husband Paul Short helped plan the tribute to Jan Purvey, the stepfather who raised him. But Mrs Wilkinson and the couple’s two children, Abby, nine, and Ethan, four, were kept in the dark and could hardly believe their eyes when the wedding rings came via owl post.
“It was a fantastic surprise,” said Emma-Jane.
“I was brought up within the Church of Scotland. My grandfather was the church caretaker and he sang in the choir. My mother and father were married in St Andrew’s, and I was christened there.
“Abby was christened in St Andrew’s and Ethan had a blessing on his first birthday.
“I have a lot of special memories about St Andrew’s.”