Episode 13: The Send-Off
Episode 13 of The Bouquet Toss is all about the tradition of the wedding send-off! Learn about the history of tossing rice, plus some unique alternatives for your wedding exit! Subscribe to The Bouquet Toss Podcast via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app!
Listen to Episode #13: The Send-Off
We’ve come to the end of season 1! So what better topic to discuss than the end of the wedding day: the send-off! There are so many different ways to organize your wedding send-off, from when you do it to the items thrown or props involved– and we’ll be unpacking them all for you. The main tradition here is throwing rice, so we’re talking all about why that is even a thing, and how it has evolved many times over at modern weddings.
As always, we’ve got info on the origin story, some interesting alternative ideas, fun facts, and tips to share with you so let’s get into it.
Where did throwing rice at weddings come from?
The main tradition incorporated into the wedding day send-off is probably throwing rice. You may have heard of this before… and if you’ve ever wondered why we do it, we’re going to get into those details here.
So, why do we throw rice at weddings?
Symbolism: meant to bring prosperity.
The rice served as a symbol of fertility or prosperity. The wish was for the couple to have a family and bear children together. If your fields had a lot of grain growing in them, you were considered prosperous, so the couple would be showered with grain to pass on that prosperity.
Rooted in Celtic origins.
The history and the tradition of showering newlyweds at a wedding with rice, seed, and grains actually predates Christianity. According to BRIDES, Celtic culture was obsessed with the science of soil management and crops, so they tossed rice, millet, and other grains to appease spirits and ask for blessing and fertility for the couple.
Other examples of cultures “throwing things” at the newlyweds:
- Ancient Romans used wheat.
- Italians tossed candies or sugared nuts.
- The Polish used rice but also place coins at the couple’s feet to ensure prosperity.
- In Morocco, they threw dried dates or figs.
- Eastern India’s tradition is a rain of flower petals.
Across many cultures, the tradition of a couple’s family and friends showering them with good wishes is a common theme among weddings. The significance of this tradition is the same across the board– wishing the couple good fortune, a prosperous marriage, and children if they desire.
Rice Has Fallen from Popularity due to some Fake News
As we previously mentioned, tossing rice at the end of the ceremony is meant to symbolize rain, which is said to be a sign of prosperity, fertility, and good fortune.
More recently, couples have been cautioned against throwing rice because it was rumored to harm unsuspecting birds who swoop down and eat it once the crowd has left. Does raw rice actually kill birds? This has been proven false. Where did this misinformation campaign against rice come from?
A 1985 bill in the state of Connecticut banned the throwing of rice at weddings. Audubon officials were perplexed because they had never seen evidence to support the idea that rice was an actual danger to birds. Regardless, the bill resulted in a widespread negative impact across the nation against throwing rice at weddings. Many people today still believe that raw rice harms birds, even though subsequent testing has proven this allegation false.
So while it actually presents no imminent danger to birds, it has become much more common to see alternative items used in the sendoff in modern weddings.
What is the “Wedding Exit”?
The tossing ritual has evolved over time into a tradition of the “send off” or “farewell line” or “grand exit” at the end of a wedding reception.
Regardless of what you call it, they all mean the same thing. Essentially, all of your guests line up to form yet another “aisle” for you to walk through so you can say farewell to your guests as you leave the reception hall for your honeymoon.
From a logistical perspective, the newlywed exit can take a few different forms:
“Send-offs”, “Formal Exits”, “Fake Send-offs” – and each of these forms would happen at different times throughout the celebration. Stick with us here.
A send-off typically occurs immediately following the ceremony. Guests file into lines outside of the church or away from the ceremony site to await the couple. They then shower the bride & groom with something — traditionally rice, as mentioned, but we’ll get into some of the modern alternatives in a bit.
The “Formal Exit”
A formal exit takes place at the end of the reception. After the last song of the reception is played, guests cheer the couple on and wish them well on their honeymoon. Since it is typically at night, light-up items or even fireworks are popular to make this exit more formal and/or grand!
The “Fake Send-Off”
A fake send-off or staged wedding exit actually takes place midway through the wedding reception. And it’s just what it sounds like: a fake exit! The couple does not actually leave, but instead stages their exit and returns back to their reception.
Why would couples choose to have a fake wedding exit? If you have a grand style of exit in mind, you probably want the majority of your guests to still be present and take part so they can be included in photos. Before grandma gets too tired and has to leave early, or before you all get too sweaty on the dance floor, you can stage a “Fake Send-Off”.
This allows your photographer to capture the moment and then you and your guests can get back to the fun. It’s especially smart if your reception is scheduled to go late into the night. You’ll get great photos with the majority of your guests still present, but allow those who want or need to leave early to do so without FOMO!
SAVVY BONUS: you could potentially send your photographer home earlier, hiring them for fewer hours to save yourself some money!
Alternatives to Tossing Rice at Your Wedding Exit
Like we mentioned earlier, traditionally, your guests would throw rice as part of the ancient fertility rite, but alternatives have risen in popularity over the years due to the rumor about rice being harmful to birds.
Alternate things to toss or incorporate into your send off that have become more popular in recent years:
Tossing confetti is a popular alternative to rice, just make sure to make it eco-friendly! There are so many options:
- Birdseed – more eco-friendly, less harmful to birds
- Seed paper confetti – Your confetti will plant wildflowers!
- Leaf confetti – Just hole punch leaves for a green alternative!
- Dried Lavender – For a pleasant scent.
- Flower petals – Because flowers are pretty.
Things to Wave that Don’t end up on the Ground
- Wedding sparklers – Makes for the greatest pictures!
- Ribbon Wands – To wave back and forth in the air.
- Handkerchiefs – For a vintage vibe.
- Wave flags – For a playful and cheery moment.
- Glow sticks – To light up the night without needing fire.
- Wedding Bells – For guests to ring as you exit!
Things to Release into the Sky
- Bubbles – Great for weddings with kids.
- Balloons – Drop them from the ceiling if indoors.
- Lanterns – Release paper lanterns into the sky for good luck.
- Release butterflies – Magical fairytale vibes.
- Release doves – For a special effect.
- Fireworks – On the more pricey side.
- Champagne shower – Not so budget-savvy.
Choosing Your Wedding Exit Style
No matter what type of exit you decide to incorporate into your wedding celebration, be sure to discuss the details and logistics with your photographer and coordinator so everyone is on the same page about timing, the photos you hope to get, etc.
Also, if you will be throwing or tossing items, make sure to check with your venue contact first. Your contract may not allow rice or any other type of toss. If a throw is allowed, the contracts are very specific as to what can be thrown and where.
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Links referenced in or for this episode:
- Wedding Send Off Ideas from BRIDES
- Eco-friendly wedding toss ideas from BRIDES
- Staged Wedding Exits
- When Does the Wedding Send Off Happen from Kara Abbey
- Ribbon Wand DIY for Wedding Exits
- Eco-friendly confetti cones
As with everything we discuss here on The Bouquet Toss, it doesn’t *really* matter what we think, it’s about choosing what works for YOU and tossing the rest!
We want to know what YOU think about honeymoons and what your plans are for yours! Join us in our private community where we’re discussing this, or visit our Instagram page to comment on the post about this episode!
About The Bouquet Toss Podcast
The Bouquet Toss is a wedding planning podcast that empowers couples to plan a meaningful, authentic, and affordable wedding celebration! On the show, we will have candid conversations all about weddings and why we do them the way we do so that couples can plan their weddings based on their own values, and not on the expectations of others.
In our Budget-Savvy Wedding Planning Community, we see the same questions asked over and over again. So many couples seem to be seeking permission to plan their weddings on their own terms, and we’re here to say go for it! We believe you should have your day, your way and our goal is to help empower you to plan a wedding celebration that actually feels authentic to you.
In case you missed it, check out our other episodes:
- Episode 29: Disrupting the Expensive Bridesmaid Dress Tradition
- Episode 30: Disrupting the Traditional Wedding Registry
- Episode 31: Even Celebrities Are Disrupting Traditional Weddings
- Episode 32: Disrupting Printed Wedding Invitations By Going Digital
- Episode 33: Ending Child Marriage
- Episode 34: Disrupting Expensive Wedding Decor with DIY
- Episode 35: Disrupting the Tradition of Buying Your Wedding Dress and Keeping It Forever
- Episode 36: Disrupting the Stressed-Out Bride Archetype
- Episode 37: Disrupting Bridal Shower & Bachelorette Party Traditions
- Episode 38: Disrupting The “Best Day of Your Life” Trope
- Episode 39: Disrupting The Exclusion of Disabled Couples by the Wedding Industry
- Episode 40: Disrupting The Stigma of Couples Therapy
- Episode 41: COVID Wedding Planning
- Episode 42: Your Wedding Vision
- Episode 43: Your Wedding Budget, Phase 1
- Episode 44: Your Wedding Budget, Phase 2
- Episode 45: Your Guest List
- Episode 46: Your Venue
- Episode 47: Your Wedding Invitations
- Episode 48: Your Wedding Day Look
- Episode 49: BONUS: Tossing Perfectionism From Wedding Planning
- Episode 50: The Wedding (formerly known as Bridal) Party