I wondered about this curious custom, too, when I attended my first wedding as a child and watched grownups pelt the bride and groom with handfuls of uncooked rice. I thought it was a really weird thing to do. After all, I got yelled at if I threw food. When we got in the car and headed home I asked my parents what the rice throwing was all about. They explained it simply as a tradition that symbolized warm wishes that the newly married couple would always have an abundance of the things they needed in life, like food.
I didn’t think about it anymore until years later when I was planning my own wedding. That’s when I did some research.
Apparently the tradition of people throw rice at weddings to newlyweds began in ancient Rome. As it turns out, my parents really weren’t far off the mark. It was done to wish the bride and groom good luck, fertility, and plenty in their future life.
Other countries have thrown different items at newlyweds, but food and seeds have always been favorites. Wedding guests in Morocco gather round to toss raisins and figs at the couple to ensure a fruitful union. In France it’s wheat, in Italy sweetened nuts and candies, and in some other European countries, they even throw eggs at the newlyweds.
Today preferences have turned to throwing birdseed or blowing bubbles, but the symbolism is the same. It’s all a way of wishing the newly joined couple a bright and prosperous future. I personally think bubble blowing is the gentlest way to shower the bride and groom. I can tell you from experience getting smacked in the face with raw rice stings and you’ll spend hours trying to pick all the grains from your hair and out of your clothing.