Pam Cox Jutte’s James Island backyard would make Dr. Doolittle smile. Bees buzz in their hives, rabbits hop about, and most recently, a cote of 25 white doves coo and preen there. The latter came to roost here last November when Pam, a biologist with a Ph.D. in animal behavior and ecology, bought “squeakers” (dove chicks) to raise and train with help from her husband and two children. The idea? Bring Holy City Doves (843/795-3683) to area weddings and special events and revive a tradition that’s symbolized love, peace, fidelity, and prosperity as far back as the fifth century. “When doves are released,” says Pam, “they circle the site then fly away together to head home. It’s symbolic, I think, of the couple beginning their lives together.”
Brides and grooms get in on the action by hand-releasing a pair of doves themselves or they can free a flock from a wicker basket that Pam customizes with ribbon or signage. Not ready for so much interaction? The Juttes can do all the handling for you. Any way they set about soaring, the beautiful birds make for a showstopping photo op. “It’s a really dramatic moment and a great ‘wow’ factor for any wedding,” says Pam.
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• Rates start at $275 for a pair of birds and range from $350 for seven to $450 for a dozen.
• To handle the doves yourself, add $50 for one training session.
• Larger flocks will be available later in 2015.
• Pam says the doves fly best on an empty stomach, which also prevents accidents when they are released.
• For a release you need daylight; winds at less than 15 miles per hour; and a site within 15 miles of the Jutte’s home on James Island (includes Mount Pleasant, downtown, James Island, and West Ashley).
• Refunds are offered in inclimate weather or inoperable situations.