A maid of honor says that she had to care for 90 goldfish that were purchased as wedding favors — here’s why experts warn against using animals as gifts

The fish were supposed to symbolize the newlyweds.

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The fish were supposed to symbolize the newlyweds.
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Green Jo/Shutterstock

  • In a now-viral Reddit post in r/Bridezillas, a woman claims she was the maid of honor at a wedding where goldfish were the centerpiece, and were intended to be party favors, despite the couple not providing the proper vessels to take the fish home.
  • She said one of her responsibilities was monitoring the nearly 90 fish to make sure they didn’t die.
  • After the wedding was over, she said she had to take the fish home.
  • Five years later, only one fish has survived.
  • Experts agree: This is a terrible idea.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

From a woman who asked that everyone at her wedding eat vegan to a wedding planner who sent out a shocking list of wedding day “rules and regulations,” Reddit has no shortage of wedding stories that are outlandish, startling, and ridiculous.

In a post that’s gained quite some attention on r/Bridezillas, Reddit user this_isnt_happening details the time she was the maid of honor at a wedding and the bride wanted to use live goldfish as the centerpiece.

In short, the “‘animal lover’ bride [used] goldfish as decorations” and “couldn’t care less what [happened] to them.” The two women are not friends anymore.

“Ex-friend was an animal lover. On and off again vegetarian/vegan, PETA supporter, etc,” the Reddit user wrote. “She was especially fond of fish. With that in mind, how cute would it be to have a pair of goldfish in a globe as a centerpiece?”

Pairs of goldfish to symbolize the couple were placed on all 40 tables – and additional fish were kept as backups in case any fish died during the reception.

But the maid of honor didn’t think the idea was so cute.

The maid of honor said she raised “multiple objections” to the concept, but the bride dismissed them. At one point, she claimed that fish have “3-second memories” so “it wouldn’t even matter” if the animals were distressed by the commotion at the wedding party.

When she asked the bride what would happen to the fish after the reception, the bride insisted that people would take them home as party favors – regardless of if they already owned fish or even wanted to.

The maid of honor said that the bride asked her to look after the fish during the wedding party.

“Just keep an eye out for dead ones and replace them before anyone notices,” the Redditor claims the bride said. “They’re called feeder fish for a reason. They don’t live long, everyone knows that. We’ll buy them that morning, they only need to survive through the reception.”

Sensing the maid of honor’s reservations, the bride said she would take care of everything else related to the fish.

By the end of the reception, not one single guest had taken an animal home, and proper fish carriers had not been provided, according to the Redditor. And with the bride and groom had headed off to their honeymoon, that left the maid of honor with nearly 100 fish.

“That night I strolled into a big-box pet store in my big floofy red satin floor length gown, heels clacking on the tiles, and purchased a big-ass rectangular tank, a filter, and some fish flakes,” she wrote. “A few were dead by the time I got home, then more the next morning.”

Five years later, only one fish lives. Its name is Sun.

“It lingered far longer than my friendship with the bride, and far, far longer than her marriage,” she concluded.

Read more: A group of friends came together to help a maid of honor get her bridesmaid dress from Texas to Costa Rica when she forgot it at home

Experts do not advise giving animals as wedding gifts

As it turns out, that maid of honor was onto something.

Mary Finelli, president of Fish Feel, an organization that advocates for fish as living beings, echoed her concerns.

“Contrary to the bride’s claim, goldfishes do not have a 3-second memory but have been shown to possess long-term memories,” she said.

The ASPCA also takes a hard stance against using animals as a form of entertainment or as gifts, noting that doing so typically leads to animal distress.

“The ASPCA is opposed to using animals for entertainment in any circumstance where their physical, social or psychological needs cannot be appropriately met,” reads the organization’s policy statements.

Finelli agreed.

“It’s never appropriate to give live animals as party favors,” Finelli told INSIDER. “They are sentient beings and should be treated as such, not like trinkets.”

Speaking to INSIDER, New York wedding planner Ashley Douglass of Ashley Douglass Events agreed that it’s never appropriate to give out an animal as a gift. “When you’re stressed and super busy sometimes you get tone deaf, if you know what I mean,” Douglass told INSIDER. “If they had a wedding planner on their planning team, surely they would have put a lid on this idea.”