Even if you like the classic wedding ceremony and reception traditions, you and your husband-to-be might also want to surprise your guests with a few modern twists. One way to do just that? Your recessional toss! Start by choosing something a bit more modern for your recessional toss than rice or rose petals. Not only is rice rather messy — it can get stuck in your hair, dress, and more — but roses could stain that beautiful white dress (and nobody wants that).
Here, wedding experts and planners share their best ideas for alternative handfuls to give your guests. Not only do these make awesome photo ops, but you might even feel a smidge more magic when you walk hand-in-hand into your future with your spouse.
When it comes to confetti, you get to decide the level of sparkle, stickiness, and color that you want for your big exit. As wedding planner Leah Weinberg, the owner of Color Pop Events, says the options are endless for couples who choose to go the confetti route. “It adds a colorful, fun touch as the couple walks back down the aisle! There are even cute confetti push-poppers to make it easier for guests,” she explains.
You might think these miniature fur balls are mainly for art class hour at your niece’s pre-school, but this craft store find can also make for some epic recessional images. Unlike confetti, which can be difficult to clean up post-celebration, pom poms are easily swept up and trashed ASAP. This is good news for your wedding planners (if you have them!), or your mom and bridesmaids, (who will probably be on clean-up duty if you don’t). “A lot of venues don’t allow rice or rose petals to be thrown at the end of a ceremony because of how time consuming it can be to clean up, so pom poms provide a perfect alternative. They’re cute, fun, and colorful, but also can easily be picked up,” Weinberg says.
Instead of exchanging vows at a church or a reception hall, you and your fiancé decided to get away from all the chaos of day-to-day life in your hometown and head straight to the beach or the mountains. An outdoor wedding might be a risky move, since weather is always unpredictable, but it also makes for some beautiful images that indoor venues don’t offer. That’s why Weinberg suggests using bubbles for your recessional in this case. “This is such a fun way to celebrate at the end of the ceremony,” she says. “Couples can have a basket with mini-bottles of bubbles for guests to pick up as they enter the ceremony space or place them under each seat for the guests to grab before the couple walks back down the aisle.”
If you’re a more rustic bride than one that invests in everything-sparkly-and-bedazzled, you might consider the environment when choosing what to throw at your recessional. Betty Owens, IEWP and CEO of Your Turn Weddings & Events, says that not only does bird seed take a historical approach (it’s been used for decades, after all), but it doesn’t require any tidying up, either. “This lets you leave a treat behind for nature’s little friends. Having them in stylish containers are a must,” she says.
If you want to wait to have your guests bid you farewell until after your reception, you get a fun perk that day-time recessionals don’t offer: darkness! In this instance, Owen says that sparklers are a romantic and classy way to send you off on your honeymoon. As with any situation where fire is involved, make sure your venue allows you to light sparklers and that someone is on hand with water in case of an emergency.
So you’d rather not walk in the ring of fire, but you still like the idea of a path that’s illuminated by all of those you love the most? Owens has a smart alternative: “For the out-of-the-box bride, use glow-sticks! It’s tons of fun for wedding guests of all ages, and especially for the little ones who are afraid of sparklers. It creates a colorful tunnel for the bride and groom to go through,” she explains.
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For a more whimsical theme, why not start off married life with feel-good and smell-great scents? Wedding planners and founders of 42 North, Francie Dorman and Britt Cole, suggest that couples, “fill glassine envelopes or paper cones with dried lavender, sage leaves, mint, basil and rosemary, for a perfectly fragrant and unique option. Also, this natural alternative leaves a low environmental footprint.”
If you and your new spouse would rather not have anything thrown at you — or your venue doesn’t allow it — consider creating a different type of photo op. Dorman and Cole explain that a tasteful balloon release that keeps to the color palette of your wedding design makes for beautiful images. Or, if you worry about a sudden pop, consider using streamer wands for a similar effect.
This article originally appeared in Martha Stewart Weddings.