OPINION: The disappearance of wedding confetti is not mourned

No confetti? No worries. Some couples are opting to have it added to their wedding photos later. Image courtesy, Digital Vision

Phil Egan

When Laurie and I got married in 1972 everybody had a bag of it. I can see it speckling our hair and my tuxedoed shoulders in our wedding photos.

As you descended the church steps after the ceremony you expected to have handfuls thrown at you. By the time you managed to escape the crowd of family and guests it was already down your neck.

And if it was raining, the bride could expect to find spots of coloured dye on her wedding dress from the nasty stuff the next morning.

So – whatever happened to confetti?

Canadian church officials began discouraging the practice years ago by charging wedding parties a clean-up fee to rid their properties of the brightly coloured paper cut-outs.

More interesting, though, is the question of where the practice of throwing confetti originated. The answer takes us back to medieval Milan.

The custom of throwing grains or sweets during special occasions dates to pagan times, but it was the Milanese who, during parades, processions and carnivals, popularized the throwing of sugared almond treats, called “confetti.”

Three hundred years later, in 1875, a Milanese silk merchant named Enrico Mangili began selling cut-up bits of paper. Soon, Italians were throwing it from windows during carnivals and showering brides and grooms with the “new confetti” at wedding processions.

The magazine Scientific American says confetti was used in Paris’ New Year’s Eve revelry in 1885. It took another 10 years for the custom to spread across Western Europe to Britain. The East Sussex seaside town of Eastbourne claims the first recorded incorporation of confetti into a British wedding ceremony in 1895.

That was also the year the Oxford English Dictionary described the word “confetti” as being part of British wedding culture. As with many things British, the custom spread to the Americas and remained popular for the next 80 years.

Suggesting confetti “adds a vibrancy to your wedding photos,” a company called Digital Vision says it’s found the answer to the clean-up complaints. Send in your wedding photos, they say, and they’ll digitally add some colourful confetti fluttering down on the happy couple.

After all, the important thing might not be how you remember your wedding day, but rather how you want to remember it.

Got an interesting tale? Contact Phil Egan at philegan@cogeco.ca