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Russian Couple Gets Married…with a Bear. Seriously.

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A couple’s wedding day is one of the happiest and most memorable in their lives. And sometimes couples will spice things up by hiring an offbeat officiant to perform their ceremony. I went to a wedding in January that was officiated by a drag queen, and it was easily the most fun wedding I’ve ever been to.

So if your idea of fun is hanging out with a bear, this Russian couple has you covered.

Photo Credit: Caters News Agency

The couple, Denis and Nelya, both 30 and both from Moscow, hired Stepan, a 350 lb grizzly, to be their ring bearer. Stepan assisted with the ceremony, and posed for lots of pictures, like this one where he gave the new bride a kiss:

Photo Credit: Caters News Agency

Denis told the press that inviting Stepan to the wedding was a “fantastic experience,” but of course it wasn’t without anxiety. “We both knew Stepan is a very kind bear but still it is a huge, unpredictable animal so we were a bit scared, but still happy to be able to make our dream come true.”

Photo Credit: Caters News Agency

What they didn’t tell the press was how they came to decide on having a bear in the first place. We can only wonder.

Photo Credit: Caters News Agency

Pictured: Stepan posing for a photo with Denis, who’s probably wishing he hadn’t worn salmon-scented cologne. 

At one point in the wedding, Stepan stepped in to officiate the ceremony itself.

Photo Credit: Caters News Agency

The wedding photos were taken by photographer Olga Barantseva.

Photo Credit: Caters News Agency

This isn’t the first time Stepan the bear has been in the news. In 2016, he appeared in a photo series with his owners, Svetlana and Yuriy Panteleenko. The photos show the three of them in scenes from their daily life and really underscore just how tame Stepan is.

Photo Credit: Caters News Agency

According to Svetlana and Yuriy, in the 23 year’s Stepan has lived with them, he’s never gotten out of control. “He absolutely loves people and is a really sociable bear – despite what people might think, he is not aggressive at all. We have never been bitten by Stepan,” Yuriy said.

Which is good, because he weights 350 pounds and stands at over 7 feet tall. To fuel a bear that size, Yuriy and Svetlana have to feed Stepan about 55 pounds of fish and eggs. Per day.

When he’s not stealing the show at Russian weddings, Stepan’s favorite activity is snuggling up on the couch with Yuriy and Svetlana and watching TV. (Must be a big couch.)

Photo Credit: Caters News Agency

Denis and Nelya’s wedding was just how they imagined it, Denis said. “It is such a special feeling to hug a real, huge bear, and you cannot compare it to anything else. We will absolutely remember this day forever.” 

No kidding.

h/t: Daily Mail