Confetti and its uses - where, when and how!
Throwing rice at weddings has a long, but uncertain, history. Three different beliefs seem to have come together to create this tradition. The first, and earliest, is the pagan one. Primitive cultures believed that eating, or being showered with, rice or other grains would transfer the fertility of the grain to the couple. So chucking grains was meant to produce babies – double quick! The second strand comes from early Christian Rome, where wheat was the grain of choice for the wedding ceremony, to symbolize fertility and perhaps harking back to Ceres, the prechristian goddess of the harvest. The bride carried a sheaf of wheat, or wore it woven into her hair. Wedding guests tossed grains of wheat at the couple. This habit became mixed up, in Britain at least, with the creating of small sweets to eat at the end of feasts, and people began to throw nuts and dried fruits too. Finally this became too dangerous: whole cakes were being thrown, or mashed over the couple as they left the church. There are parish church records up and down the country that show 17th and 18th century weddings as including black eyes, torn clothing and concussed brides, resulting from the enthusiastic application of bride cake.
The third strand is danger avoidance: in some cultures, rice or other grains are used to distract evil spirits. Rice was ideal for two reasons, first, it would take a long time for the spirits to pick up every grain, and second, it would serve as a meal for them, so they would be well fed and lazy, which would make them less inclined to cause mischief to the happy couple.
Today, many churches don’t allow rice, as it’s a slippery hazard underfoot. The myth that birds eat it and explode is just that: a myth. Even so, there are still a couple of churches that allow you to throw bird seed but not rice!
But if your church, register office or reception venue won’t allow rice, don’t despair.
Confetti comes in a variety of shapes and sized and ranges of biodegradability. Some churches sell their own. You can have confetti with poppers to create real showers or just pouches that people can strew. If you’re not allowed to have confetti at the church, consider sprinkling some on the reception tables instead to pick up the theme.
Everyone from the young and old enjoys bubbles and most churches are happy to have bubble confetti. Bubbles are equally popular at the reception, where you can put a bubble bottle on each table or at each place setting.
Being a natural product these are biodegradable, sweetly scented and come in a wide range of colours to match the bride’s dress. You can select a single colour, or one of the now popular blends of colours. Or mix 'n' match to your own liking!
If the church really won’t allow any kind of thrown item, see if one of these will work for you:
If some of your guests are musical, invite them to practice a simple tune and play it as you leave – everybody else can clap along. This looks wonderful on the video.
If you have young family members, you can invite them to roll up two and a half metre long ribbons that match the chosen theme, and pin them through. One can be handed to each guest at the church door. The guests should stand each side of the church door, take out the pin and wait for the signal! As long as they keep a good grip on one end, they can flick out the length of ribbon to make a spectacular arching array over the couple’s head as they leave the church (great photo opportunity) and the ribbons can then be put in a bag and taken away. No mess, wonderful pictures and a lot of fun!
Strewing and arching
The ancient traditions of strewing and arching could be ready to make a comeback. The crowd who’d come to witness a wedding used to strew the church path with items from the groom’s profession. Strewing became ‘arching’ – the raising of an arch of items for the couple to pass through, and we still see this at military weddings. If your vicar really won’t allow confetti, how about giving your guests an item that represents one or other of your jobs to hold over your heads as you exit the church? Lawyers could have quill pens and folios, bankers could walk through an arch of play money, cricketers do still enter the world as a married couple under a line of crossed bats and blacksmiths still get ‘smithed’ with horseshoes along the path and rakes held overhead; and tailors used to walk over a carpet of clothes. Today, travel agents could have their profession celebrated with an array of maps and pretty brochures; painters could have brushes and rollers – come up with something that can easily be carried, and tidied away, and try it out on your vicar. Often the appeal to ancient traditions will win the day.