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“With This… Goat? I Thee Wed” : A wedding with baby pygmy goats!

Published Thursday, Mar. 18th, 2021

Illustrations by Jessica Levey

Baby goats ahead! Read on for spring wedding inspiration! 



For one soon-to-be-wed couple, wedding rings just didn’t seem like the right “fit.”


Two busy farmers, they spent most of the day working with their hands. They knew that a ring exchange was the traditional way to seal their vows at the ceremony, but jewelry would only slow them down (or else get lost in a bucket or a bundle of hay).


What could they do instead?



Suddenly, they knew! Who needs rings when you can exchange baby pygmy goats? 



Raising goats on their south Georgia farm was the joy of their lives, and two cute kids seemed like the perfect gifts! 


Far better than a pair of wedding bands, these adorable sidekicks would symbolize what was really important to them -- their work, their love, and the life they were building together. And their wedding-day promises would live on in an adorable four-legged lineage! 



But there was a problem… Every wedding officiant they asked to perform their lively ceremony said no. 



After talking to ten officiants, the couple discovered most wouldn’t perform a ceremony that included animals, afraid that they’d create unexpected problems. One after another, officiants said no.



That’s when one understanding AMM Minister stepped up to say yes. 



illustration of a wide open field, with a farmhouse and barn in the background, while two baby goats frolic and play in the foreground, blue sky and trees in the background after the wedding ceremony




Officiant Patricia Burgess -- Patty, to her couples -- knew right away that she’d marry them. How could she not?


With 50 years of experience marrying folks, Patty prides herself on helping couples have their wedding their way


And besides! She loves goats, having spent time with them on her grandmother's farm in North Carolina. And she knows that wedding rings aren't for everyone. In fact, her husband of 44 years hadn’t worn a band either, because he’d worked with his hands, too -- first as an engineer on nuclear submarines and later on NASA spacecraft. 


Patty agreed with a friendly laugh, “If you have to have a ring on your finger to remind you you’re married, you’ve got a problem.”


Deciding it was meant to be, they got to planning right away.


Patricia met with the couple several times and began crafting a perfect ceremony script, with just the right balance of tradition and personality. 


Meanwhile, the couple chose two 2-week-old pygmies for their symbolic exchange -- one black and one white. Using small leashes, they worked with the enthusiastic pair, helping the tiny goats learn how to walk on a lead. 


The practice paid off.


The day of the wedding, everyone assembled at the groom’s grandmother’s farm, and the procession began without a hitch!  


As the couple entered -- first the groom, and then the bride -- with their fuzzy gifts beside them, delighted laughter rose up to greet them. The guests cheered, as the couple walked the baby pygmies down the aisle, led with ropes of woven satin ribbons. (Well… ‘walk’ might not be the right word…)



“They prance, more than walk,” Patty said with a smile. “Little prancy things.”


Once the cheering quieted down, the ceremony continued in an otherwise traditional way… until it was time for the exchange. The Maid of Honor and Best Man had been keeping the special guests company during the blessings and vows, but now Patty asked them each in turn to step forward to exchange their unique wedding gifts with each other.


Soon, all eyes were on the couple. It was the moment they’d all been waiting for! 


“With this gift, I thee wed.”


“With this gift, I thee wed,” the groom said, passing the satin leash that held a small black goat to his smiling bride in place of a ring. The bride seconded the sentiment, and passed her own satin leash, and the prancing white goat attached to it, to her happy groom. 


It was the sweet, meaningful moment the couple had dreamed of! The perfect symbol of their unique love story.


Patty had made it all possible.



When it was time for the recession, they paraded back down the aisle together:


Bride, groom, and two prancing kids. 


After the ceremony, the guests formed a special receiving line to pet the goats and celebrate the newlyweds, before the two adorable VIPS were bundled into the Best Man’s car and driven back to the family farm for a post-wedding frolic in the fields. 



...tell us your favorite story about pets in the wedding party! 


Patricia Burgess became a Unitarian minister in 1971 and joined AMM in 2014, when she began performing weddings full time. She runs Your Wedding Your Way, creating beautiful and inclusive ceremonies for all couples and officiating weddings with her team in Georgia and Florida. She was recently featured on WeddingVenture as a top Atlanta officiant. 


Follow her wedding adventures on Facebook @YourWeddingsYourWayGA


For more inspiring true stories from officiants

(and tips on having pets at your wedding!) :




Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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