Don't Believe This Myth About Wedding Rice And Birds

For years, showering a newlywed couple with rice was considered a necessary element to the post-ceremony festivities. The practice of showering the bride and groom with rice dates all the way back to Roman times, when the practice was thought to rain abundance and fertility onto the bride and groom (via Our Everyday Life).

Then some misguided bird-lovers got ahold of the notion that raw rice was bad, or even fatal, for our feathered friends. According to animal activist lore, rice, when swallowed by birds, expands, causing the poor creatures to, quite literally, explode (via Yahoo! Sports). In 1985, a Connecticut State legislator actually introduced a bill that levied a $50 fine on anyone partaking of the ancient tradition.

The idea that rice is at all harmful to birds is, in reality, nonsense. Wild birds eat rice all the time. In fact, as revealed by Mental Floss, the food is actually a mainstay in the diet of some birds, particularly waterfowl.

Rice is rice

Of course, if rice isn't your preferred post-ceremony ritual, by all means, skip it. A good wedding tip: Don't follow traditions that mean nothing to you. It is, after all, your day. Rice can be slippery, and some venues don't allow it out of an abundance of caution (in regards to the human wedding guests, not the winged ones). That said, if you're a traditionalist and want to partake in the throwing of the rice, there are eco-friendly varieties that are safer (The Knot). 

If you like the idea of being met with something showered on you by your guests after you've said your "I do's" but aren't so keen on rice, there are plenty of alternatives, including biodegradable confetti, rose petals, and bubbles (via Martha Stewart Weddings). In France, wedding guests toss wheat at the couple as a symbol of bounty. In Italy, candy and sweetened nuts are thrown.

Rice can indeed signify abundance, as it is food that's not just for some birds, but for us hungry humans. The stuff of many culinary adventures, it's one of the most versatile, and user-friendly, items in your pantry. It can be a wedding blessing, one that poses no threat whatsoever to our feathered friends, or it can stay in the kitchen, molded into a nourishing and satisfying side dish, or even a hearty meal. Either way, the myth that it is harmful to birds can, once and for all, be put to rest.