Wedding Legends #4: Why Do Wedding Guests Throw Things at the Bride and Groom?

We’ve all been at weddings where we’re handed a little baggie of something that we’re supposed to throw at the bride and groom as they’re leaving their reception and starting their new lives together. Most of us probably tossed the bag’s contents at the couple along with everyone else, while at the same time wondering why in the heck we were doing it.

Turns out, it’s a tradition that goes way back to a time when wedding guests would throw rice over the couple to “shower” them with good wishes for fertility, abundance and prosperity. Rice was chosen as a symbol that bigger things (like children) can eventually grow from even the tiniest seeds and grains.

A few decades ago, we were told that uncooked rice was harmful to birds, and we believed it, so we started finding other things to throw. (The bird thing turned out to be an urban legend; birds eat uncooked rice from the fields all the time.) But even though rice isn’t harmful to birds, it can certainly make a hard surface slippery for people, especially those in formal shoes, plus it’s hard to clean up, so most venues don’t allow it anymore anyway.

If you want to be showered with good wishes as you are leaving your reception, here are some creative ideas for things to throw that aren’t harmful to anyone (except maybe the person in charge of cleaning). Some venues don’t want anything thrown at all, so check with your coordinator first.

·     Birdseed or sunflower seeds: Small, doesn’t hurt, and the birds will eventually clean it all up. (This, of course, only works outdoors.)

·     Confetti: Tiny pieces of colorful paper. (Best used in an area where it can be easily swept or vacuumed up. Biodegradable confetti is also an option.)

·     Fresh or dried flower petals: A romantic, beautifully scented sendoff.

·     Lavender: Tiny little buds that smell amazing!

·     Fake snow: If it’s easy to clean up.

·     Leaves: Perfect for a fall wedding!

·     Colorful candy sprinkles: To encourage a sweet marriage (but they’re a little messy).

·     Beach balls: Ideal for an oceanside or other casual outdoor wedding.

·     Paper airplanes: Kids love this idea!

Or, if you don’t want anything thrown at all, here are some things that guests can do instead:

·     Wave sticks with colorful streamers or ribbons attached.

·     Shake pom-poms.

·     Toot kazoos!

·     Blow bubbles.

·     Ring tiny bells.

Next up: Wedding Legends #5: Why Do Bridesmaids Traditionally Wear Matching Dresses?