Traditionally Speaking, To Rice or Not To Rice

Weddings are filled with heart-warming traditions that are as infused with meaning for the couple as they are for their guests. One such tradition is the throwing of rice at the newly married couple, a long-held symbol of good luck, fertility and abundance. Although many countries differ in opinion on what is appropriate throwing material, this tradition spans the globe and is something many little girls dream of in anticipation of their wedding day. The reality is sometimes not quite so pretty. With stories of brides being pelted in the face with rice, falling on the slippery grains, or of guests being denied the opportunity to throw it at all due to venue regulations, this simple and beautiful tradition has taken on a life of its own. Fortunately, there are a variety of substitutions, some more fun than others, that the happy couple can enjoy! From bubbles to butterflies, sparklers to silly string, couples are constantly finding new and creative twists to this long-established tradition.

Those who want to retain the traditional symbolism of throwing something over the couple as they leave the church, there are a variety of options. First, of course, is rice. Certainly one of the most inexpensive options, this tradition is truly exquisite and, contrary to the urban legend, it is not harmful to birds. Rice does create a slippery surface though, and can be a little hard on the face when a determined relative is a little too close! Due to the urban legend, many couples have chosen bird seed or sunflower seeds for their nuptials. This, too, is beautiful, but still a little hard and slippery. A softer choice may be flower petals, lavender, or fall leaves. A fragrant cascade of color can lead to some exquisite pictures and will certainly not hurt, however, the petals should be fresh so they don't discolor before they are tossed. Often lavender finds its way into hairdos and clothes and doesn't reappear for quite some time. Confetti is sometimes thrown or, in winter, paper snowflakes. These certainly don't hurt and can match the colors for your wedding, but require cleaning up after the ceremony.

The couples who prefer not to have something thrown at them but don't want to relinquish the tradition completely have several options, as well. Bubbles have become extremely popular, although getting everyone to participate can sometimes be problematic. Strategically positioning a few guests with bubble guns will certainly add to the effect, but be careful of your dress, as certain fabrics will be stained by the bubble mixture. Another option that rings true for some couples is the ringing of bells. The sweet cacophony of bell ringing follows the couple as they rush into a new life with each other. For those who still want that special picture, ribbon wands are sometimes used. These, too, can match the colors of your wedding party and require no clean up or special care. Sparklers are also quite popular for many couples. These look amazing in pictures and are fun for the guests as well as the couple. Just be careful of your veil and have a bucket of water nearby to put them out once you're through.

Another trend is to have a live release at your ceremony. Symbols of peace and new beginnings, these releases can have a much more powerful effect on the lucky bride and groom than a handful of rice. The quintessential symbol of peace and hope, white doves are often released at weddings. This beautiful event certainly leaves your guests with an 'ah' moment that they will remember forever. You should remember that these birds should be handled by professional handlers and should never be released in the dark or in bad weather. Go to for details about dove releases. A relatively new tradition is the release of butterflies. These exquisite creatures are individually packaged in boxes or decorated release baskets. Although, certainly more expensive than a bag of rice ( quotes $95 per dozen large monarchs), the experience will stay with your guests for the rest of their lives. You may wish to have a guest recite the American Indian Legend about whispering a wish to a butterfly and letting it go. The beauty of these gorgeous creatures will live forever in your photographs and every time you see a butterfly it will remind you of that special day.

Whatever you decide to use, remember to incorporate it into the theme of your wedding. By including it in your candles, place cards or wedding favors, it will lend a seamless continuity to the event that will please everyone, and give your guests something truly memorable to bring home with them. Whether you choose snowflakes or butterflies, bubbles or flower petals, Favor Favor has a variety of items that will enhance your reception with a part of your ceremony!

Before you make any final decisions on what to throw or not throw, always remember to consult with your venue! Many venues have regulations about what can be done on the property or requirements for cleanup. Have your bridal party help with the logistics by having matches available for sparklers, making small packets of rice, birdseed, rose petals, or leaves available for guests, or handing out ribbon wands or bells. No matter what you choose, remember that this is your day and most importantly, have fun!