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Why is rice thrown at weddings?

Since early Roman times some grain—usually wheat— has been associated with the wedding ceremony. Wheat, a symbol of fertility, was carried in the bride's hand or worn by her in the form of a garland. As the bride left the church, grains of wheat were tossed at her, and young girls rushed to pick up the grains that had actually touched the bride. These were assumed to have the power to ensure the young girl a wedding of her own in the near future.

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, wheat was no longer tossed at brides but was instead baked into small cakes that were then crumbled and tossed over the bride's head. Later the small cakes were replaced by one large one, which was cooked and eaten. This change in ceremony left the wedding guests feeling deprived, since they had nothing to toss at the bride. Since at that time rice was cheap, clean, and white, it seemed a good substitute for the more expensive wheat cakes.

~source used: "Ever Wonder Why?" by Douglas B. Smith


Wearing White
Queen Victoria made white the bridal color of choice when she wore it to wed Prince Albert in 1840.


Medieval newlyweds would spend a month alone together, enjoying mead, a fermented honey drink (honey is an ancient symbol of life, health, and fertility) until the moon waned, hence the term honeymoon. Unfortunately, today's honeymooners rarely get a month off after the wedding!


In the early days of arranged marriages, the bride and groom often never saw each other at *all* before the wedding. Even after couples were already acquainted before they married, it was still considered bad luck for the groom to glimpse the bride pre-ceremony; she would not be pure and new.

Neither was the bride supposed to see *herself*,  it was believed that if she saw her reflection she would leave some of herself behind in the mirror. (Brides today probably wouldn't take too well to not being able to preen before the wedding!) These days, many couples still uphold the tradition of not-seeing-each-other. Others throw caution to the wind and spend time alone together to calm their nerves or enjoy the excitement together.


Brides originally wore veils to stave off evil spirits. The veil was often red (for defiance against evil), or yellow (for Hymen, the god of marriage). Martha Washington's daughter is said to have been the first bride to wear white lace, covering her head with a long lace scarf for her ceremony. Her fiance had previously commented on her beauty as she stood behind a lace window curtain, and she went with it -- as have millions of other brides.


Wedding Facts

Eve, a columnist for the Toronto newspaper that answers questions and writes trivia....posted this wedding trivia.


The bride's bouquet actually goes back to the bubonic plague era. Since people didn't know about bacteria and viruses, they thought disease wafted through the air in "vapours", and certain strong/sweet smelling things would protect them. Like garlic. So, since a bride was precious on her wedding day and needed to be safeguarded, she'd have a bunch of garlic buds, parsley, rosemary ("for remembrance" if you remember your Hamlet), bay leaves and other herbs that might have been growing at that time of year, usually tied around her waist. (presumably, after the wedding ceremony, she could throw them into a pot and make beef stew )Over time, the herbs evolved into not just a health thing, but, among the superstitious (esp. country folk) to keep all evil away from the bride - not too far off from the Dracula idea. (The same principle created the veil - so the Devil couldn't see the bride's face and steal her before she was "given" to her husband). And then the herbs moved from the bride's belt to her hand and became the bouquet as we know it, eventually being replaced by flowers - again, certain ones having certain meanings. Throwing the bouquest, of course, meant passing the bride's protection or good luck to the next bride, which then got turned around to mean that whoever caught it *became* the next bride.

Best Man

The best man was literally the groom's strongest and most able friend, not necessarily the one he liked the most. In the 1600s, the wedding began by the groom and his pals getting good and happy on ale and then going off to fetch the bride at her father's house. The bride's male relatives would make sport of not letting them get there - putting up obstacles and trying to capture them on the way. So the best man headed up the gang because he was the one who had the biggest muscles and could Rambo his way through the the bride's crowd and clear the way for the groom to get her. The best man has stayed the best man - there to make sure everything goes the groom's way and taking care of all the details (not JUST the bachelor party as most people think), and the rest of the groom's gang became the ushers or groomsmen. Having a huge number of attendants (both groomsmen and bridesmaids - who were literally to be *maids* to the bride, running errands, helping her dress, etc. like ladies-in-waiting to a queen) became a status symbol and as weddings grew in size and expense, having a huge groom's team and bride's team (in "uniform", obviously, like powder blue tuxedoes for the guys and sea foam chiffon for the girls) proved how important you were.


The groom traditionally lifts the bride over the threshold of their new home (or wedding-night hotel room) so that evil spirits lurking in the floorboards won't be able to get to her! Roman brides would let themselves be dragged over the threshold to demonstrate their reluctance to leave their father's home.

The Ring

The diamond engagment ring (sorry, ladies) is a commercial invention with no basis in reality. Yes, the groom has traditionally always given the bride a token of his intentions - from a silk ribbon among poor people, to an estate or a purebred horse among aristocrats. The wedding band, however, has always been around in some form or another - in ancient country weddings, the groom would tie a rope around the bride's waist when he led her from her father's house, and that eventually became symbolized as a band of gold and moved to her finger; among rich folk, wedding rings were often coloured stones, like rubies or saphires. But diamonds were never especially popular for rings themslves, until the 1920s when the South African mining co. DeBeers launched a huge advertising campaign in the US: Diamonds are forever. I mean it really was just an ad slogan, and it is considered the most successful advertising campaign of all time. They decided, I guess, that there just wasn't enough money to be made selling huge rocks to very rich people, so they decided they'd rather cut diamonds up and sell a whole lot more little rocks to a lot more people -everything from tiny chips to 2-carat sparklers - priced (talk about jeenyus!!!) at "two months salary", which would cover everyone from the milkman to the bank president. And boy did we go for it!!! They've also tried pushing the wedding anniversary band, but I don't think as many people have gone gaga for that idea. And think about it - if you've inherited your mother's or grandmother's engagement ring, have they ever inherited their grandmother's engagement ring? Nope, cos GreatGrandmama never had one and GreatGrandpapa had never been told he had to buy her one.
Now if you like diamonds and your engagement ring means a lot to you, that's great. But remember that it's a "tradition" that's only about 70 or so years old.


In the days of marriage by capture, the groom had to constantly defend himself against rival suitors  even when the couple was already at the altar, set to say their vows! Therefore, the groom needed his right hand (his sword hand) free to fight. The bride stood at his left, safe from any random sword swoosh!


The bride originally tossed her bouquet to a friend as she left the festivities to keep that person safe (the warding off evil spirits thing) and to offer her luck since getting lucky in those days meant getting married. This came to mean that the single woman who caught the bouquet would marry next. (If you're not thrilled with the implications of this custom, feel free to give your bouquet to your sister or an engaged friend or relative privately, or forego it altogether!) The origins of the garter toss are humorous - guests would literally rip off pieces of the bride's gown for luck, so to defend herself she began to throw her garter to them! These days, the groom removes it from her leg (as innocently as possible, we're sure) and tosses it to his bachelor pals.

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Copyright © 2002 - 2010  Eugene C. Finley                                                                                                                                  

Copyright © 2002 - 2010  Eugene C. Finley