Why Do We Throw Rice at the Bride and Groom?
The custom of throwing rice over the new bride and groom is a symbolic gesture expressing the wish that the couple have many children. The act is also meant to bestow happiness and prosperity on the couple.
In ancient times, rice was the symbol of fruitfulness. By showering the newlyweds with rice at a wedding, it was hoped that the fertility of the grains of rice would be transferred to them.
In some early customs, the bridal couple ate the rice together as the actual ceremony of getting married. In others, the rice was carried or worn by the bride.
In olden times, marriage meant expansion, from building a family to increasing one’s assets. Rice symbolized both fertility and prosperity, and tossing it at couple’s implied best wishes and good luck—for newborns, good harvests, and everything in between.
Alternatives included wheat (the Roman tradition) and oats, but regardless, the message was clear: Seeds and crops are things that grow.
Nowadays, the tradition takes many forms, from candy and sugared nuts in Italy (for sweetness in marriage) to figs and raisins in Morocco (for fruitfulness).
Right here in America, things have also changed. With creative couples and a plethora of themed weddings, newlyweds have the flexibility to offer guests something less messy, slippery, and hazardous (no bride wants to take a grain to the eye) than rice.
Whimsier options include confetti, pom poms, and paper airplanes, and seasonal replacements—like autumn leaves—are equally festive. And if you’d rather not have anything airborne, sparklers and streamered dowels make perfectly acceptable send-offs.