A wedding is a beautiful thing – from the flowers, to the divine cake, to the dream-dress – all topped off with the grand finale, the moment when the guests bless your union with the throwing of confetti. The sentiment behind the tradition is charming (the guests are showering you with their love and best wishes for your honeymoon and marriage) – but unfortunately it's also messy, and more and more churches and wedding venues are discouraging the use of paper confetti.
The great news is that many of the alternatives beat the traditional fare by far. For a more memorable wedding, take your pick from the options below.
*Always check with your venue well ahead of time to seek approval for any of these confetti alternatives.
To add a bit of magic to your wedding ceremony, consider having friends and family blow bubbles as you leave the venue. Playful guests will have tonnes of fun blowing and catching them, and you'll have some spectacular wedding photos. Try to find bubble solution which is non-toxic and won't stain clothing – store-bought tubs of children's bubble solution works well, but will need to be redecorated with ribbons or paper to suit your theme.
You can also place a bubble machine over the venue's entrance so that you're showered with small iridescent bubbles when entering and leaving the ceremony. Click here to rent a bubble machine for your wedding.
Flowers and petals
The flower girl doesn't have to be the only one throwing flowers – give your guests sachets or bowls of fresh rose petals to toss as you leave the church. Apart from the heady scent, the petals look stunning as they drift through the air. Choose petals to suit your colour scheme, and consider mixing them in with small flowers for variety – try delphiniums, purple ericas or pansies. For Spring weddings, consider blossoms: peach, plum, orange, apple and almond blossoms look and smell lovely, but will have to be harvested by hand and kept fresh.
Where to get flowers and petals:
Cape Town region: Blooming Art. Tel: 0 76 208 0875
Joburg region: Oopsie Daisy. Tel: 011 824 2461
Durban region: Flower Fusion. Tel: 031 764 2801
Feathers make for a quirky alternative to traditional confetti. Give each guest a small satin bag filled with feathers in the colour of your choice. The types of feathers that you choose will also impact on how well they fall and glide when thrown – the Wedding Specialist.co.za recommends weighing each feather down with a tiny bead on the end of the quill.
Take care to ensure that you get your feathers from a supplier who adheres to ethical animal treatment standards. The feathers should be gathered after the birds have moulted, and not harvested straight from the birds (as is unfortunately the case with many of the peacock and guinea fowl feathers which we find in shops).
For fabulous feathers, visit Elsje Designs or phone them on 021 976 7111.
To give your wedding a funky 'eclectic' edge, give your guests sachets of mixed spices to throw as confetti. Fill each sachet with a combination of vanilla pods, star anise, cloves, peppercorns (mix up the colours – go for red, green, black), cardamom and dried juniper berries. The variety of shapes, colours and exotic fragrances will make for an unforgettable experience.
Sequins make for a glitzy confetti alternative. They scatter well and catch the light as they shower over you, creating a sparkling jubilee sure to be remembered. Try match them to your colour scheme, or go with white or silver.
Where to get sequins:
Cape Town region: The Bead Boys. Tel: 021 448 4499
Johannesburg region: Ees Millinery. Tel: 011 333 4582
Durban region: Generations Three. Tel: 031 764 0135
For something really different, give your wedding guests small white paper planes to throw as you and your groom leave the church. Plain white paper is easiest, but to make it really special you can have your guests 'personalise' their sheet of paper by writing a short message of love and best wishes, then folding the planes themselves.
For instructions on how to make a paper plane, click here.
*This works well for weddings with a more whimsical theme – if you want to go for restrained sophistication, avoid this option.
If none of the previous options appeal, you can also get guests to throw:
If your venue doesn't allow anything to be thrown, but you still want that wow factor, consider one of the following:
Arrange for your guests to wave sparklers as you leave the venue. This looks especially beautiful in the dark, but looks spectacular in daylight too! Just take care to ensure that the sparklers are carefully disposed of after they've been lit – they are a potential fire hazard.
Give each guest a tiny silver or golden bell to ring as you leave the venue.
It's almost impossible to find these in SA, so your best bet is to order them online. We like the selection at Elegant Wedding Impressions.
Releasing white doves on the way out of the venue is meant to symbolise your vows flying up to heaven. You'll have to contact a professional dove supplier to make sure that the doves are treated well and no animal cruelty takes place.
Where to find professional dove suppliers for weddings:
Cape Town region: Ivan Merkel. Tel: 021705 7770
Joburg region: Flying Memories. Cell: 082 679 4723.
Natal region: Deon Boucher. Cell: 082 839 9763
A popular confetti alternative NOT to consider – butterflies
Using live butterflies at weddings is a recent fad sweeping across the United States and parts of Europe. In theory it sounds great – a beautiful cloud of colour fluttering around the wedding guests – but in reality, it's an extremely cruel and impractical trend. The butterflies are usually transported to the venue in tiny plastic containers. Of the half which survive the trip, at least a few will drown in glasses of champagne or fall out of the sky onto your guests. Nothing says 'failure' like a tornado of injured butterflies dead and dying all over your wedding reception. There's currently only one provider of butterflies for weddings in SA. Don't be tempted by this new (and hopefully short-lived) wedding trend.
Have you got any ideas for original wedding confetti? Share them in the comment box below.