Where did the tradition of throwing rice come from and why do we do it?
Throwing rice was actually one of the fertility rituals at weddings from ancient times. The rice seeds where symbols of "New Life" because they could germinate. This custom is believed to come from ancient Rome where both rice and later grain, dates, nuts and coins apparently were thrown at the newly weds to pave the way for fertility, happiness and good force. Nowadays rice (you can get bird safe rice) is no longer thrown as a symbol of fertility but simply to wish the couple a prosperous future and is a real festive element at the wedding ceremony. Bird safe rice is not the only option though, take a look at the suggestions below and get inspired to personalize your wedding ceremony.
Suggestion to what to throw at the wedding ceremony:
Designer rice/bird safe rice – You can still go with the old tradition and use rice for your wedding ceremony. Just use the bird safe stuff that is biodegradable. Ask your church if it’s okay first though. Bird safe rice can be heart shaped and bought at craft stores.
Bird seed – Low cost, quite commonly used and is definitely on the top five for a lot of brides. There is no clean up here as the birds will do it for you but be aware that it may be a bit messy on the hands. Remember that it is going to be thrown at you avoid the seed mix with very large seeds in.
Grass seed – Fantastic if you are on a lawn as there is no mess to clean up. Wedding venues or churches are not likely to approve this one.
Rose petals – Low cost if as you can get the leftover from flower markets. I have heard of brides who have bought rose petals for 500 guests for around $15. Amazing! You can use flower petals of whatever flowers are in your wedding bouquet.
Cherry blossoms – Gorgeous for weddings. The guests can throw the whole flowers or just the petals. A nice twist on this idea is to get small branches with the cherry blossoms on and use them as decoration at the wedding ceremony. After the eremony the guests then get one (little) branch each which they simply shake over the newly weds so the small pink petals drizzles off.
Dried lavender – Lovely idea. The lavender is more or less the same size as the rice, wont cause any harm to environment and as they are thrown and everybody steps on them they will smell beautifully!
Heather - also a gorgeous flower to use and won’t be too expensive. Heather exists in variations of purple, pink and also white. Beautiful! If you like the idea of using heather flowers then you should see my suggestion on how to make your own flower wreath using heather here.
Bubbles – Are very popular because many churches won’t allow most of the other things that are thrown at weddings. If you would like bubbles for your wedding ceremony I suggest you buy a sample and test it first. Some bubbles can leave ugly stains on clothes as they land and dry out. Also many photographers strongly advise against bubbles due to their expensive camera gear. The bubbles can also leave marks on the camera lens which will then be visible on your wedding photos.
Large size party poppers – They will pop confetti and streamers into the air. Decorate them with personalized stickers or tags and arrange in baskets or bowls for guests to take one each.
DIY wedding wands – Make wedding wands out of pieces of dowel with pieces of ribbon attached to the top! Not only does it look beautiful but wedding wands are also practical as there is nothing to clean up afterwards. They look amazing on photos too and make a lovely little keepsafe for wedding guests!
Wild flower seed – Are fantastic if you have your wedding on your own (or your family’s) property and you don’t mind gorgeous little flowers potentially appearing seasons later. I think it would be amazing to see all the little flowers the following summer or spring. It would be a romantic reminder of the wedding day year after year! Churches or other wedding ceremony venues are unlikely to allow this though.
If you like this idea and are allowed to use flower seeds then consider to use flower seeds for your wedding favors as well.
Rice paper – Is thin, makes great confetti and is eco friendly.
“Sprinkles” - I have heard of “sprinkles” being used as well. It great in size, price and colors but if it’s a rainy day I would be a little careful as the colors from the “sprinkles” potentially can stain clothes. One thing is for sure – its great for the children who will probably at more than they throw. If you use “sprinkles” for your wedding ceremony then consider to also use “sprinkles” on your cake or cupcakes later to make a theme.
Autumn leaves – Rustic and wonderful for a fall wedding. Spend a little time collecting leaves and drying them before the wedding. Arrange them in bushel baskets with a little sign telling guests to take a handful each. It’s original & creative.
Pumpkin seeds – Also wonderful for an Autumn wedding theme. Arrange in individual bags, paper cones or on bowls for guests to take a handful each.
$1 bills – It’s an African tradition
Small coins – It’s apparently an Eastern European tradition.
Eco confetti – available in different colors and is eco friendly.
Streamers – get all your guests streamers. They are super festive, very easy to clean up and they come in all colors.
Jordan almonds – I have heard of jordan almonds thrown at an Italian wedding.
Miniature beach balls – Super for a beach wedding theme. You can get mini beach balls in all colors on the internet. It looks amazing and the guests will have a laugh throwing them around. I have heard it’s a lot of fun and great entertainment too!
Alternatives to throwing
Sparklers – Breathtaking for an evening wedding. It looks amazing and is quite inexpensive as well. Tie two sparklers together with a piece of ribbon and place in a basket or similar. Make sure your guests have a possibility to light them – perhaps with small personalized match boxes. If there are kids consider giving them little sparkle lights.
Japanese floating lanterns - Get your guests a floating Japanese lantern each. I love this idea if you are marrying around a pool or pond or similar in the evening but I am not a fan of adding more stuff to the oceans. This is also why I am not adding “Balloon Releases” to this list. I don’t like the thought of them ending up in nature somewhere when they finally pop & drop.
Fireworks – Superb for an evening wedding but also a bit noisy.
Kazoos – Give your guests one each to blow after the ceremony – Noisy but very festive!
Bells - Give your guests a bell each and ring in your new life.
No matter what you choose for your wedding ceremony it will surely be amazing and you can easily add your own personal DIY touch to it all. Make small bags of fabric or paper or arrange in large baskets or glass fish balls and add tags, ribbon or signs.
I hope you feel inspired.
Small tip: If you have decided on something which could potentially make your guests hands a bit dirty (i.e. birdseed, flowers petals etc.) it would be a really lovely gesture to arrange individually wrapped small wet tissues for your guests so they can wipe their hands afterwards. In particular if you go directly to the reception after the wedding ceremony.