You may have attended a wedding where the attendees shower the bride and groom with rice as they leave the ceremony. This photographic tradition likely began with the Celts, who tossed rice, millet and other grains to appease spirits and ask for blessing and fertility for the couple, according to Brides.com. However, the tradition crosses multiple cultures. The Ancient Romans used wheat. Italians toss candies or sugared nuts. In Morocco, it’s dried dates or figs.
“The rice toss is a symbolic wish to the just-married couple for a life of prosperity and fruitfulness, which to the ancients meant many children,” the Brides.com article says.
The toss usually takes place outdoors as the couple recess from the ceremony or during the grand exit as they leave the reception.
However, the rice toss has gotten a bad rap in the last few decades. In 1985, a state legislator in Connecticut introduced a bill to ban rice throwing at weddings, saying it harmed or even killed birds, Brides.com says. While Connecticut Audubon officials refuted the myth, it still exists today and contributed to the decline in rice tossing.
If you choose to do a rice toss, you should provide guests with individual packets of rice. Many couples appoint someone to hand the packets out as guests arrive at the ceremony. You can also place them on chairs or include them in your programs.
If you don’t want rice but still like the idea of a toss, consider environmentally friendly options such as seeds, dried flowers or herbs. Just make sure these items won’t stain if they land on your dress!
Other popular options include bubble blowing, biodegradable confetti tossing or bell ringing.
Bottom line: If you like the idea of a toss, you can use rice as it does not harm birds. However, you can also get creative with other options!
To learn more about how brides are “bucking tradition,” read our blogs on receiving lines, bridal party dances, flowers, first dances, rings, wedding cakes, the bouquet toss, the garter toss and whether white is always right.