A couple had to put their wedding on hold after an owl which had been chosen to carry the rings fell asleep in the roof of the church.

The bride had secretly arranged for the bird to swoop down to the altar with the wedding bands attached to its feet by tassels. But the spectacular stunt failed when the barn owl, called Darcy, took to the rafters to enjoy an impromptu snooze.

Rev Chris Bryan, who was in charge of the ceremony between Sonia Cadman, 46, and Andrew Mettle, 49, tried to coax the animal down but his efforts were in vain, so he decided to continue the service by using a back up set of rings.

He said: 'It would have been absolutely superb - if it worked. It was a lovely idea and it was supposed to be really stunning.

'The groom is into falconry as a bit of a hobby and so it was secretly arranged for two falconers to suddenly appear at the moment when the best man hands over the rings. The owl appeared, and took a bit of coaxing to take to flight.'

'But instead of landing on the arm of the man by us and delivering the rings it went up over our heads and landed up in the roof space.'

'The idea was it would be amazing and would swoop over the heads of the guests, and they’d all feel the air rushing from its wings, but it didn’t quite work like that.'

Rev. Bryan added: 'We all had a bit of a laugh about it, and then we tried to get it down, but it didn’t come. In fact it fell asleep. It presumably thought ‘I’m a barn owl, this is like a barn’.

'We had a plan B. They say never work with animals, so we had a back-up pair of rings. After a few minutes, we gave up trying to get it down and carried on. It was actually rather nice when we went up for prayers and the owl was right above us.’

'It’s important that people realise that a church wedding doesn’t just come as a package of things you have to do, and there’s no room for creativity. It was such a magical wedding and it was so full of emotion, it was nice to be able to have a bit of a laugh.'

'Luckily the service was able to go ahead and the groom was able to hold the bird and have some really nice pictures taken after the ceremony.'