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It turns out alpacas don’t just provide a soft, luxurious fleece — they also make for really cuddly wedding guests.
Local farmer Robert Silverstein was recently contacted by a bride who wants to rent some of his alpacas for her August nuptials. While it will be the first time Albert Bridge Alpacas has taken its animals to a wedding ceremony, Silverstein said so-called alpaca weddings have become “very popular” in the U.S. and parts of Canada in recent years.
“It depends on what the bride and groom want, but they can bring the ring up, for instance, walk up with the ring,” he told the Cape Breton Post.
“In some cases, they’ve actually had them as part of the ceremony where they’ll dress them up as the bride and groom and be out there with the groom and bride standing next to them. They’re very docile, very loving animals so a lot of times they’ll want to be putting their heads on your shoulders and things like that, so a lot of people know them as very gentle and cuddly animals.”
A Manhattan-born business executive, Silverstein began operating the small farm along the Mira River more than five years ago with his wife Norma (Ferguson), who is from nearby Homeville.
They currently have 17 alpacas that they will shear in May for their hypoallergenic fleece, which is as soft as cashmere, warmer than wool, water-repellent and extremely durable.
Silverstein said they ship the fleece off and get it back as yarn and insoles in mid-June. A fibre artist, Norma uses the yarn to make scarves, hats and purses that they sell at a cottage on their property, online and a booth at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion during cruise ship season. They also offer a wide range of items, including sweaters, socks and stuffed toys, that they source from fair-trade suppliers in Peru.
Silverstein expects to hear back from the bride in the spring to find out where the wedding will take place and what role the alpacas will play. However, he said already has a few alpacas in mind, including Tennessee Honey and her cria (the proper term for a baby alpaca) Ginger Gem, who lost one eye after it was injured during her birth.
“We have a mother and daughter that would be ideal — they’ve been here since the beginning of the farm. We have others. We have males that are really good, too,” he said.
“They each have a personality which is kind of unique to each animal. They’ll do certain things. They’re not the brightest of animals but they’re not stupid either. They do understand some things. If I tell them to go to the barn, they’ll know exactly what I’m saying. If they see me coming out with food, as soon as I open the door to the house, they’re all outside waiting for me.”
While Albert Bridge Alpacas doesn’t formally offer wedding or party rentals, Silverstein said their alpacas have been to various fundraisers, the cruise pavilion and the Mayflower Mall. They are currently training some members of the herd so they can visit seniors at area nursing homes.
And Silverstein said he can see more weddings in the future.
“I think it will be a lot of fun,” he said.
“I’ll help him dress them up,” added Norma.
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