There are many traditions for weddings that can be traced back thousands of years to early civilization. One enduring tradition is to throw rice at the newly betrothed. For the safety of birds and other animal life, rice has been switched to birdseed in recent times.
Some wedding traditions are based on very real needs of ancient times. Others are based on superstitions or existing etiquette at the time they were initially practiced. Throwing rice remains a timeless tradition that many couples still enjoy.
Everyone attending the wedding gets to participate in throwing rice, or whatever is being used in lieu of rice, be it birdseed, confetti or even bubbles. In France, people throw wheat, a symbol of bounty, after the ceremony. Italians toss candy and sugared nuts over couples, for sweetness in marriage.
Rice was traditionally used to symbolize fertility and prosperity. Wheat was also very much used in ancient wedding ceremonies for the same reasons. When guests threw rice at the bride and groom at a wedding, they were symbolically wishing them a lifetime full of children and good fortune. Some cultures even ate a meal of rice before the wedding to guarantee further prosperity.
Different cultures have long harbored different perspectives on throwing rice. Some even believed it fed the evil spirits that, though uninvited, crashed the wedding. It was thought that well-fed spirits would not wreak havoc on the happy day.
Rice and wheat were also thought to represent virginity and wholesomeness by some. A virginal bride used to wear white and carried a stalk of wheat. Single women rushed after the bride hoping to get a few pieces of rice so they would be the next person to walk down the aisle.