After the ceremony, it's tradition to pelt the couple with rice as they exit the church (dry rice, that is).
Why? Since early Roman times, grain has been thrown at the couple to symbolize a life filled with fertility and prosperity. Grain = life and it was highly treasured. Ancient Roman brides wore a garland of wheat in their hair and carried a sheaf of it, which they would later throw towards the guests. Young girls would the scramble to pick up the grains that bounced off the bride, hoping they would soon be walking down the aisle themselves.
During Elizabethan times, small wheat cakes were baked and crumbled over the couple's heads instead, which eventually morphed into a large wheat cake that was eaten. Looking for a way to be active participants again, guests started throwing cheap, white rice and the tradition has stuck ever since.
Options Many ceremony locations strictly forbid rice or confetti throwing (not only are they a pain to clean up but people can slip and fall on the rice grains). And despite the popular notion that birds' stomachs will explode from eating dried rice, it is not dangerous to our feathered friends (there, laid that urban myth to rest).
Consider using little paper airplanes (super cute for a pilot, stewardess or travel fanatics), flower petals, biodegradable confetti or birdseed. Other options include blowing bubbles, ringing little bells or having little dowels with brightly coloured ribbons for guests to wave.
Photofetti turns your photos into, well, confetti. Cannons with confetti or colourful streamers add a big 'bang' to your exit.
Photo courtesy Firework