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Throwing rice at the bride and groom as they leave their marriage ceremony is a tradition that has evolved over the years. If you are trying to decide what you can do at your wedding to mark this significant moment in the day, here are a few ideas:
The custom of throwing something at newlyweds dates back at least to the Roman era, and possibly even further. The substance that was thrown varied according to country, but it was usually a local seed or grain and was thrown to represent the future fertility and prosperity of the couple. As the tradition evolved rice was the popular choice in America, while wheat was usually used in France. In Italy the newlyweds are showered with sugar coated nuts, or confectionary, from which we get the word confetti.
In recent years many couples have substituted rice with birdseed because it was believed that if birds ate uncooked rice that was scattered on the ground it would harm them. There is no evidence to support this, however, but rice has still lost popularity because of the danger of someone slipping on it, or getting a grain in the eye.
The significance of the rice throwing tradition was lost a little, but the custom remained, when rice and grains were replaced with paper confetti. This is usually brightly coloured tissue paper, cut into tiny pieces, or shapes such as lucky horse shoes or wedding bells. Confetti can be bought in customised boxes or containers designed to match the wedding theme or colour scheme.
Most wedding venues no longer allow the throwing of paper confetti because of the work involved in clearing up the mess. Confetti companies are trying to fight this by producing environmentally friendly paper confetti that dissolves as soon as it rains, but the era of paper confetti is probably coming to an end.
If you are looking for an alternative to rice or confetti, bubbles are an extremely popular option. You can supply each of your guests with a small container of bubble mix as they leave the ceremony, either in a simple white wedding style design, or with a bespoke label showing your wedding details. They will blow bubbles at you in the same way as they would throw confetti.
The only danger with bubbles is that they may stain your dress, at least temporarily, if the soap concentration is too high. Try to get a material sample from your wedding dress supplier to see if it stains when bubbles land on it.
Another growing trend is to have some kind of release to mark the occasion rather than having something thrown at you. White doves are a popular choice, and you and your new husband can release one each before a whole flock are released by the rest of your wedding party. Releasing butterflies is another dramatic and fashionable alternative, and this works best if each guest is given a butterfly in a specially designed box to release at the same time.
Rose petals are an elegant alternative to confetti, and if they are placed in a decorative mesh bag and hung on the guests' chairs at the ceremony, they can double up as wedding decorations. This works especially well if you are using roses as part of your bouquet, or flower arrangements, and you can use the same type and colour petals.
A final option to consider is giving your guests sparklers to light as you leave the ceremony. This is very effective for an evening wedding, especially during the winter when it will be getting dark. There are, of course, safety issues to consider when using sparklers, so perhaps they are not very practical at a wedding where there will be a lot of young children.