An animal-loving couple have opted for a very wild wedding by inviting 30 creatures to help them celebrate tying the knot.
Groom Paul Freakley and bride Janet Still, both 39, from Rugby, Warwickshire, decided to bring a host of creatures - including a fox, a meerkat, a snake and a tarantula - to their wedding reception on Saturday to keep guests entertained.
The couple, who have been engaged for a decade, also shared the dance floor at Thornfield Indoor Bowls Club in their hometown with the likes of a raccoon and a scorpion.
Human guests were stunned when they turned up for the nuptials as the bridal party had decided to keep the petting zoo a surprise.
Admitting that the meerkats were the big draw, Paul said: 'It’s just something a bit different really.
'We went to a few weddings last year and sometimes it can be a bit dull waiting for the speeches, so we thought this would be a great idea to solve that problem.'
'It’s a really good way for people to get to know each other and enjoy the day because I think people are always naturally interested in animals.
'But it was a complete surprise and only a few people other than us knew that the animals were going to be there.'
Janet added: 'I was really looking forward to holding a meerkat - they did it for me.
'Everybody loves a meerkat, don’t they? You get to see them at the zoo but never get to hold them and it’s a real highlight for me.'
Paul, a carpenter, and Janet, a childminder, first got chatting in a Rugby nightclub after he asked a friend to pour a drink on her in a bid to get her attention.
After finding out Janet was working at a chip shop, Paul made a big effort to woo his woman.
He explained: 'I must have eaten chips every day for month just so I could get a chance to speak to her.'
The pair now have two daughters together: Maddy, five, and Amy, nine, plus two daughters from Janet's previous relationship, Rita, 18, and Kimberley, 20. They also have three pets; cocker spaniel Lilly, tabby cat Molly and guinea pig Honey.
The pair saw The Party Animals’ collection of creatures at a kids’ birthday and decided that it would be the perfect fit for their big day.
The company, which offers professional animal encounters charged at £135 for two hours, started six years ago after owner Lee Richardson broke his back while on holiday before being diagnosed with a brain tumour.
The family decided to buy exotic animals, such as emus, to help motivate him in his recovery and the business started from there.
Since then, the company, which employs four full-time staff, has travelled to events up and down the country with their selection of exotic animals in tow.
Lee, director of The Party Animals, said: 'A lot of the time, we find that the bride and groom haven’t told anybody at the reception that animals are going to be there and it can go either way.
'But the animals make the wedding special for the couple because it’s a unique thing.'
However animal rights organisation PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has hit out at the concept.
UK Director Mimi Bekhechi told FEMAIL: 'What a thoughtless way to celebrate and mar a happy occasion, scaring and confusing wildlife.
'The animals hired for such stunts are carted from one venue to another, not knowing what to expect, and some live between events in small cages.
'It will upset some people at a wedding to see animals who are disturbed by travel and a change of environment, and are afraid of loud music and being around a lot of strangers.
'Couples who care about animals can make a lasting difference by asking wedding guests to make a donation, in lieu of a gift, in their honour to a wildlife sanctuary or even to their local animal rescue centre.'