At her Tampa wedding last month, Cassie Roth didn’t toss her bouquet or a garter after the ceremony. Instead, she and her husband, Jonathon Roth, released a cat.

Not a real cat: a stuffed, velvety black cat with gold-rimmed eyes.

When one of Roth’s bridesmaids, Christina Soto, set off in search of the stuffed feline and picked it up off the ground, she agreed to visit the Humane Society of Tampa Bay at a later date to adopt a cat from the shelter.

During the cocktail hour, with drinks named after the Roths’ cats, wedding guests also had the chance to meet five kittens in need of homes.

“Weddings can be wasteful, so we were trying to keep in mind ways we could give back when we got married,” said Cassie, 27, noting that she and Jonathon have loved cats ever since they met. In secondary school.

“We wanted to somehow incorporate cats into our wedding and help some animals in need,” she said. “Everyone loved it, they said they had never been to a wedding like it.”

A video of the cat toss posted to TikTok by one of the Roths’ wedding planners after the Dec. 30 ceremony has more than 4 million views.

“For us, it was a fun way to do something that broke with tradition a bit,” said Jonathon Roth, 27. “We don’t even have TikTok, so we were shocked to see our wedding blow up on social media.”

The cat giveaway was organized by Kelly Nova and Ilana Karcinski, the founders of FairyTail Pet Care, a wedding service that helps couples incorporate their pets into their vows and also host small pet adoption events.

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Since 2015, Nova and Karcinski have dressed more than 1,100 dogs in tuxedo collars or bows and arranged to bring them briefly to the ceremony to walk down the aisle, sniff guests and pose (ears up, tongue out). outside) for photos with the wedding party.

Only eight cats have had the same honor, Nova said, adding that the Roths’ cat launch was their first. Decorations at Roth’s wedding read “They’re Meowing Us!”

“The dogs realize that all their friends are there, so they stop to say hi to everyone and it’s a really cute moment,” Nova said. “But a cat is actually comfortable walking on a leash, and that’s rare. We don’t see many of those.”

The Roths wanted to include their own cats, Smokey and Ella, in their wedding, but they didn’t think they would handle it well, Cassie said.

“We decided it was a better idea to have the Humane Society come up with some kittens that needed homes and give people a chance to consider adopting them,” he said, noting that the kittens were kept in small pet tents in A peaceful place. corner of the premises.

Two of the five kittens were adopted after interested guests filled out a “retainer” form and then went to the SPCA the next day to fill out the necessary paperwork, Jonathon said.

“We had people watch the kittens during the cocktail hour, so they wouldn’t freak out,” he said. “It was the perfect mix of socializing and quiet time, and it also raised awareness.”

That’s what Karcinski and Nova had in mind when they added a Yappily Ever After adoption feature to their events in 2020.

“We’ve both been volunteering with shelter animals since we were kids,” said Karcinski, 31, noting that she and Nova, 32, are longtime friends. “It seemed like a natural fit.”

No one is pressured to adopt puppies (or in the Roths’ case, kittens) at a wedding and anyone interested is vetted by the SPCA, he added.

At age 5, he committed to going to college with his mother. They just graduated together.

In addition to the Roths’ two wedding kittens, about 80 dogs have found permanent homes, Nova said.

“Many times, couples choose to have adoptable puppies carried down the aisle by the wedding party instead of flowers,” she said. “A big side effect is that it helps dogs to socialize.”

She and Karcinski said they were inspired to start FairyTail Pet Care after receiving numerous requests to allow pets when they both helped coordinate weddings for a Tampa hotel.

“People wanted their pets to be included in their special day, but they didn’t know how to figure out the logistics of picking up the pets, tracking them at the location and dropping them off,” Nova said.

A 16-foot pet python was stolen in July. A dog walker just rescued him.

“A light bulb went on for us,” Karcinski added. “We immediately came up with the idea of ​​taking care of the pets on the wedding day.”

Adding an adoption element to the mix seemed like the perfect next step, he said, and the pet-loving couples who request his services seem to agree.

Jenn and Jeff Karstens said the five Humane Society pups brought to their Tampa wedding in May 2021 have found new homes, including one pup they adopted.

The Karstens’ dog, Pablo, was included in their wedding and they decided they had room for a second dog they named Wrigley, said Jenn, 33.

“Everyone at the wedding couldn’t get enough of the puppies,” she said. “We like big dogs, so having pet adoption as part of our day was a great option.”

“Jenn always wanted another dog, and I was like, ‘No, one is enough, we’re getting married and we want to travel,’” added Jeff, 40.

“Then the next thing I know, we’re adopting Wrigley and I’m holding her like Simba from ‘The Lion King,'” he said. “I highly recommend anyone who has adoptable puppies at her wedding.”

Jillian and Parker DeKorte of Largo, Florida, included their dog Riley and a relative’s dog, Cooper, in their December 2022 wedding ceremony, later releasing five puppies to play with guests. Three of them found new homes, said Jillian, 27.

“We couldn’t imagine a better way to share our love,” he said. “Thanks to our wedding, three puppies found homes in time for Christmas.”

“If you ask someone who knows us what we love most in life, they will say dogs,” said Parker, 26. “When we found out we could have adoptable puppies [at our wedding]It was a no-brainer.”

“It’s so us, and we knew it would create a lasting memory that we will treasure for the rest of our lives,” she added.

Cassie Roth said she feels the same way about her non-traditional jack toss.

“If it inspires someone else to do the same and saves a cat’s life, I’m all for it,” he said.