Have you ever wondered why people throw rice at weddings? I mean of all of the staples in the pantry, rice does seem like a safe bet – we sure wouldn’t want people throwing uncooked spaghetti or flour at a newly married couple. But why throw anything at all?
The Meaning of Throwing Rice at a Wedding
Rice is an ancient symbol of wealth, success, fertility, and good health. The perfect thing to wish a new couple as they venture out into the world on their own, creating their own lives together. Ancient Romans and Celts both used rice tosses as a way to wish newlyweds good luck and if guests had extra rice it meant they were prosperous, so it was very symbolic.
Because it’s been done for centuries, no one is really sure when the first rice toss happened, but because of the symbolism, we believe we know why.
Should We Throw Rice at Weddings?
There is something fun about getting your guests involved and letting them throw something at you as you leave the church, but rice tosses have slipped as a wedding tradition and not everyone has them anymore.
One reason people stopped having rice at weddings is because in the 1980s it was believed that birds ate the rice and it was bad for them or even killed them. Birdseed became the trendy thing to toss instead. The problem is this simply isn’t true. Some birds eat quite a lot of rice from the fields to help fuel them for migration. And scientists have proven that rice at your wedding won’t harm birds.
Another reason rice went out of favor is that churches and other venues don’t want to clean up afterward. Rice is not easy to clean up, especially when it gets stuck in sidewalk cracks or in the grass. It can also be dangerous and cause falls. Imagine a few grains of rice rolling under your pencil sharp stilettos.
Finally, there’s Juliette Gordon Low. Founder of the Girl Scouts of America, Juliette was a blushing bride of 29 when a grain of rice thrown at her wedding punctured her eardrum and caused her to go deaf in that ear.
How to Replace the Rice Toss at Weddings
If you still want the audience participation and the well wishes of your guests, you can try an alternative to rice and birdseed that is still fun but less troublesome. Some are for tossing, some are for waving and blowing.
- Flower petals
- Biodegradable glitter or confetti
- Paper streamers
- Glow sticks
- Wedding flags
One idea we came up with, instead of throwing anything at the couple, have a well-wishes station at the reception. Ask the guests to each write a wish for the couple on a slip of paper and fill a large jar with it. They can be asked to sign it or leave it anonymous.
The couple can then have the wedding DJ announce a wish after every few songs, the couple and wedding party can read a few of them to the crowd during the meal, or it can be something special that the couple does together and turns into their own little event. Maybe they want to read one every time they have a meal that includes rice.