Samui Wining & Dining
Love Doves
Weddings and doves have always gone together.
Now Event Doves are making sure that they do on Samui too.


Love DovesIt’s a magic moment. The wedding ceremony finishes, the couple kiss ...  and several doves are released into the sky, circling above before flying off. Using doves as a symbol of love and commitment is a tradition that’s been around for centuries and is still going strong. So it’s no surprise that it happens here on wedding-happy Samui.


Georgia Lemanczyk knows about this first-hand. Together with her mum, Dorra, and brother, Ben, she’s part of Event Doves, a company based at Baan Taling Ngam on Samui’s west coast that releases doves at all kinds of events. And she recently took a bit of time out from cleaning the coop to explain how it all works.


LC: Could you give me a bit of background on how the company started?

GL: It was really my mum’s idea. She loves birds and she’s been around them since she was five, when her dad had pigeons in their back garden. He died recently and she wanted to raise birds again to honour his memory, then we had the idea of making it into a business. I’ve just finished school so I wanted to come on board and my brother Ben is part of the company too. My dad is Thai so we’ve lived here for a long time and know how the island works.


LC: Why do people want to use doves as part of a wedding?

GL: It goes back to ancient Greek and Roman times, when the doves were a gift from the bride to the groom. There are also mentioned in Biblical passages as symbols of holiness, purity and innocence. White rock doves, which we raise, are the only type of doves that should be released at a wedding as they’re the ones that have always symbolised love and commitment.


LC: What types of events do you cover?

GL: We’re expecting most of our business to come from weddings – Samui is ‘Wedding Central’! But the doves are also available for funerals, where we release one dove to symbolise the spirit leaving the body and soaring upwards, then three more to represent the Holy Trinity. And we offer more general releases for birthday parties, business openings, celebrations, anniversaries ... anything a customer wants, really. A release works for just about every type of ceremony.


LC: How does it work? What actually happens at the ceremony?

GL: We consult with the customer first to find out exactly what they want and if they want to personalise the service – they can pick the number of doves they want to use, for example, or they can be trained by us to handle the doves so they can hand-release the birds by themselves. We have special hand-made baskets we bring the doves in, again customising if the customer wants, so, for example, we’ll use our heart-shaped baskets for wedding ceremonies. The doves are released and they fly upwards, circling above us for a few minutes, then they fly off and return home.


LC: How do you know the birds will come back?

GL: Yes, that’s an important part of it! It’s a combination of a few things. First up is the daily training, when we take the doves out near their home and release them and they quickly learn to come back. You have to make sure the doves are as happy as possible with their home, that it’s clean, sheltered and safe, and that they have plenty of food and water so that they want to come back. And, finally, the doves we use have been selectively bred for centuries as homing birds, so it’s instinctive for them to want to come back. They can find their way home from 600 kilometres away and they can fly at speeds of up to 80 kilometres an hour. Doves are monogamous – they pair for life, so when they’re released they either want to come back to their mate or they follow their mate back home.


LC: You say you use white rock doves, how many do you have?

GL: Yes, the white rock doves we use are also known as racing or homing pigeons. We have 14 at the minute and we’d eventually like to have about 50 birds, all in their life pairings and all fully trained.


LC: Do you find people are concerned about whether this is humane for the doves? How do you reassure them?

GL: That’s one of the things that’s most important to us, making sure that people know our doves are treated humanely and with love. The white doves you see at magicians’ shows or wherever don’t actually have a homing instinct – when they’re released from the cage or basket they just fly off and don’t come back. It means they’ve vulnerable to predators or starvation and it’s very likely they’ll die, so doves like that should never be released. The doves we use have been deliberately bred to return home and know more or less instinctively what to do. We also make sure we fly them every day unless the weather’s very bad and we give them plenty of time flying so they can return before sunset.


Even on a practical level, it makes sense to treat the doves humanely, because if they have a good home to come back to then they can be released with no problems. But my mum has raised birds all her life and is very passionate about them, and Ben and I love working with them too. So the doves are treated very well and are very happy.


Georgia’s clearly happy as well, enjoying working with the birds and learning more about them. With her granddad and then her mum raising doves from an early age, it seems safe to say that this is going to become a family tradition. So next time you see a wedding on the beach here, take a second to look upwards – Event Doves may well be there making a couple’s special day extra-special.


Lisa Cunningham


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