The Corner Link: Throwing Rice

Contributed by Donna Turner

Did you know that throwing rice at the Bride and Groom at their ceremony is actually a wish?

One of the oldest wedding traditions is throwing rice on the newlyweds as they exit the celebration. Though it is not exactly certain when or where this custom originated, it is thought to have stemmed from an ancient pagan tradition of throwing wedding rice (or other grains) on a couple in order to wish them a fruitful, wealthy and prosperous union. Thereby wishing them an abundant harvest and prosperous life. Many also believed that fertility would be transferred through the fallen seed so that the newlyweds would conceive many children to help with their land. 

The ancient Romans threw wheat which represents fertility and childbirth. During the Roman times, corn and oats were also thrown. The Middle Ages is responsible for replacing wheat with rice, which they resembled fruitfulness in childbirth. In addition to these traditions, throwing rice is believed to provide not only prosperity, but to also keep evil spirits away from the Bride and Groom. 

Today’s weddings do not dictate throwing rice as a mandatory event. Throwing rice in modern times has mostly stopped because of the possibility that birds would die if they eat rice. Throwing rice still remains an option for couples to consider since the responsibility of birds dying turned out to be false.

Because of slips and falls, not to mention the painful impact, guests can also throw rose petals, other flower petals, birdseed or blow bubbles at the couple instead of rice. Some venues have banned rice because it does make a mess.

Another option is noise makers, streamers or confetti. I recommend asking the venue staff what is acceptable with this tradition. A lot of weddings of today forgo this tradition however in the end, there is really no wrong answer.