How to Hire an Elephant for Your Indian Wedding in Washington

It isn't easy (or cheap), but it can be done.

Technically you can’t ride exotic animals in most cities. Still, plenty of couples want to bring the world’s largest land mammal in for their big day. Doing so requires patience—and a pile of paperwork.

  1. Provide the health department with your elephant’s name and age.
  2. Describe the exact route the animal will march in the city.
  3. If your elephant is staying over, disclose its address and how it will be put up for the night.
  4. A month before the wedding, hold a meeting with the health department’s Animal Services Program, Animal Care and Control, and the elephant supplier.
  5. Provide proof of a “current trunk wash.” (Collecting your elephant’s nasal flora ensures that it’s not infected with tuberculosis, according to a city health investigator, “and possibly contagious.”)
  6. Furnish a recent health certificate from a licensed vet.
  7. You already have a federal license to possess wildlife, right?
  8. Hand over even more documents, including your federal animal-exhibitor license and “chemical immobilization plan.”
  9. Finally: Hire a police sharpshooter to accompany the elephant during its stay. A stampede is the last thing you want on your wedding day.

Related: How Indian Weddings in America Became So Amazing—and So Pricey

Arts editor Emily Codik (@emilycodik on Twitter) can be reached at

This article appears in our September 2015 issue of Washingtonian.