Home » Butterflies at wedding moved strangers and bride Amy Rose Perry to tears

Butterflies at wedding moved strangers and bride Amy Rose Perry to tears

by ballyhooglobal.com
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On the one-year anniversary of her father’s death, a monarch butterfly landed on Amy Rose Perry. Since then, she has seen butterflies as a symbol of her late father.

“Whenever it’s an important day, like his birthday or Father’s Day, we always see a butterfly,” said Perry, 32. “I always believed in signs, and I believed that our loved ones were still with us and watching over us.”

Her father, Nathaniel Machain, died after a three-year battle with appendix cancer in 1999. He was 36, and she was 7.

“It took me a long time to process that grief,” said Perry, the eldest of Machain’s two daughters. “His passing at such a young age has given me a lot of perspective on how I live my life.”

Shortly after she got engaged to Matthew Perry last year, she wanted to find a way to include her father’s memory in the wedding ceremony. Releasing monarch butterflies, she decided, would allow her “to have such a strong symbol of him surround us on that day.”

As it turned out, the butterflies would not only surround her, but they would actually cling to her. As Amy Rose Perry opened a glass container to release about 50 orange-and-black-winged insects, she expected them to fly away. Instead, they landed on Perry, her sister and her new husband.

“It was just really indescribable,” Perry said, tearing up.

The butterflies stayed on them for about 10 minutes as Perry and her wedding guests were stunned at the beautiful and unexpected sight. A video that captured the moment has millions of views on social media, and set off a cascade of supportive emotional comments from people who were moved by it, and shared their own stories of processing grief.

“I lost my dad and my mom always says he was a butterfly,” wrote a commenter.

Perry said she knows that many people do not believe in signals from the universe or signs from lost loved ones. But for her, it is something she has held onto since childhood that has helped her deal with her intense grief, and feel close to her father.

“I’m so lucky to have had such a strong sign from someone I wanted there so badly,” she said of the butterflies, adding that the encouragement from strangers since the video was posted online by photographer Brit Perkins has been overwhelming in the best way.

The video, which captured attention from both local and national news outlets, has more than 10,000 comments.

“Your father was very much a big part of your special day. May he be resting peacefully,” one commenter wrote.

“This made me cry. He was surrounding her in his love,” wrote another.

“All of those butterflies were him hugging her…He was there and he was proud,” wrote a third.

Although Perry only knew her father for seven years, she said, he left a deep and lasting impression on his daughters. Perry described Machain as “the life of the party” who lit up every room with his vivacious personality. “He just made ordinary moments extraordinary.”

She described her dad as a giver, including when he was fighting for his life.

“Even when he was battling cancer, he put everyone else first,” said Perry.

On one of his final days, he wrote a series of cards to his two daughters to mark future milestones after his death, such as birthdays, graduations and weddings. Perry’s mother gave her the wedding card to read after her bridal shower, about a month before the wedding, knowing it would be too painful to read for the first time on the big day. She had no idea he had written her something for her wedding.

“The first line is: ‘Out of all the cards I’ve written you, this is by far the most difficult,’” said Perry.

“It really got me thinking about his perspective, and how difficult that must have been for him to write, knowing he would never be able to walk me down the aisle,” she said. “But to be able to give me that gift of having his words for the day was really, really selfless and courageous and speaks volumes to who he was as a person.”

Perry credits her mother, who walked her down the aisle, for helping to carry on her father’s legacy.

“When her husband was dying of cancer, she thought about us and took pictures and videos so we could keep his memory alive,” Perry said.

While she has long felt a hole in her heart for her father, Perry said, after she got engaged, the void grew even wider.

“The wedding planning process was very emotional for me,” she said. “Not having him around for big life milestones like that was very difficult.”

In many ways, Perry said, her husband reminds her of her father. Like her dad, Matthew is “incredibly caring, patient and grounded.”

Before he proposed to her, “he took my mom and sister to my dad’s grave to ask for permission from all three of them,” Perry said.

During her wedding on Cape Cod last month, when she released the butterflies, an audio recording of her father from an old home video played. In it, he says, “One hug and kiss for my little girly whirlies” — which is what he used to call Perry and her sister, Molly Machain, 30.

As the butterflies were released, and then attached themselves to the bride and groom, guests were moved to tears. Whether they felt her father there or not, guests said it was a stunning sight.

“It was just the craziest thing to watch,” said Perkins, a Boston photographer who photographed the wedding and posted photos and a video online for the public to see. “I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Leslie Ries, a butterfly ecologist and an associate professor of biology at Georgetown University, said that “it’s not a behavior that I would have expected at all. Monarchs are not a species that usually lands on people.”

“I can feel and imagine how she felt in that moment, and can understand why it was so profound,” Ries said.

She said biologists generally discourage butterfly releases for various reasons, including that captive-bred monarchs can carry diseases to native populations. But she said she recognizes that the releases allow people to “experience the magic of these butterflies.” The company Perry used for her release, Michigan Native Butterfly Farm, says it follows strict guidelines to prevent diseases in its butterflies.

“The more people care about butterflies, the more we can take big steps to conserve them,” Ries said. She suggested that Perry and others who love butterflies consider planting a butterfly garden.

For centuries, many cultures and religions have believed that butterflies represent the souls of lost loved ones. They are also known to be attracted to gravesites, as they are drawn to certain flowers and plants.

“Death is such a scary and challenging concept for people, and just to have that hope that they’re still there with you is incredibly powerful,” Perry said. “It’s been very emotional and healing.”

Perry said she felt very close to her father on her wedding day, and it’s a feeling she’ll never forget.

“I truly felt his presence, and everyone else’s presence and love was just amplified in that moment,” she said. “It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.”

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