Begin Free Online Ordination

Throwing Rice on a Newly Married CoupleBy now, you may have heard of a common truism that you’re no longer supposed to throw rice at weddings. The usual reason given is that birds will eat the raw grains, which will expand their stomachs and kill them upon exploding. You’ll be happy to know that this has proven to be false, so no avian creatures have been harmed in post-nuptial getaway traditions. However, it still may not be a good idea to incorporate this slender grain in with your showering plans at your own celebration.

Origins of the Rice-Tossing Tradition

The custom of throwing rice at happy newlyweds is observed in several areas around the world including Greece, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States. The first documented instance of tossing grains at a wedding may be from Roman times, as related in a Martha Stewart Weddings article. Oats were used at Roman nuptials to symbolize good wishes for fertility and prosperity. The association of seeds, oats, rice and other grains with growth and fruitfulness may transcend cultures and lie within a collective human consciousness.

Does Rice Really Kill Birds?

Sometime in the 1980s, concerns were raised among the public about the perceived deadly effects of dry rice on birds. The idea goes something like this: the little creatures would swoop down and ingest raw rice grains, which would then swell up from moisture and rupture in their stomachs. documented and debunked this urban myth in March 2015, but by then, the misconception had already been circulating for nearly 30 years, spread by well-meaning authors and even famous advice columnist Ann Landers. In fact, a Connecticut state legislator went as far as sponsoring a bill against throwing rice at weddings in 1985. Nevertheless, ornithologists have debunked this belief time and time again. In fact, rice is a popular choice among avian animals, and ducks and geese frequently ingest it before their long flights of migration. 

Still, Rice May Not Be a Good Idea

You might be surprised to discover that rice tossed at a nuptial celebration can pose more problems for your human guests that to your wild, feathered friends. Many venues still forbid its use for many reasons, including safety and preventing a wide range of minor annoyances. A 2007 Reuters piece revealed that the practice has been banned in Venice, Italy, due to the massive numbers of pigeons attracted to eating the grains. On the blog of the Kippure Estate, a popular event venue in Ireland, an October 2016 post detailed that some establishments still outlaw its use because of difficult cleanup and potential hazards for slipping and falling.

Fun Wedding Toss Alternatives

Even without the slender white grain, your wedding exit toss tradition can still be complete. Although you might have considered birdseed, you may still want to steer clear of using it, as many venues’ prohibitions on rice also extend to other hard grains and seeds. Typical alternatives might include rose petals of blowing bubbles, but plenty of ideas can be found if you scour the Internet. TheKnot contributor Bridget Clegg presents a wide range of creative possibilities, including paper airplanes, ecologically friendly confetti, feathers and glitter. Releasing balloons or sky lanterns are also unique alternatives.

The question of whether to toss rice at your nuptials requires a complex answer. With the “exploding birds” myth proven to be false, many locations still snub the tradition for other reasons. You’ll need to follow your venue’s guidelines governing what substances you can include in a post-celebration sendoff, and try other fun choices that don’t require extensive cleanup or jeopardize the health of your attendees. With a little research and creativity, your exit toss can still be a memorable, lovely moment.



Category: Wedding Materials Wedding Planning

wedding wedding day

Add Your Comment

To post a comment you must log in first.
You may alternatively login with your credentials, below.
Have a question? Ask us now!
Welcome. If you have any questions, I'm happy to help.