Wedding Myth or Reality?

Can first cousins marry? Does "I object!" hold any weight? Before you tie the knot, see if you can untangle fact from fiction in some of the world's most persistent wedding myths.

MYTH: You need a blood test before you can say "I do."
Not anymore, unless you're marrying in Mississippi. Pre-wedding blood tests began in the 1930s, when outbreaks of rubella and sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis, were considered public-health threats.

MYTH: You can't marry your cousin.
You can if you live in one of the 19 states (plus D.C.) that allow first cousins to get hitched, or one of the other six states that do so under certain conditions (e.g., if the bride is unable to have children). We wonder: Does marrying your cuz make doing the guest list any easier?

MYTH: All cruise-ship captains can perform legal weddings at sea.
Only captains who are ministers, justices of the peace, or otherwise suitably appointed can officiate. And most ceremonies must take place where the captain's credentials are recognized and the couple has obtained the license.

MYTH: All weddings require an officiant.
Not so. In fact, in Colorado, you don't even need a special form or a witness. In Pennsylvania, the only requirement after your DIY I do's is that two witnesses sign your marriage license. And in Wisconsin, an officiant-free affair is permitted as long as the bride or the groom belongs to a religious group that recognizes such marriages, such as Quakers or Baha'i.

MYTH: When someone yells, "I object!" the wedding must come to a stop.
This is only true in soap operas. If a jealous ex shows up, there's no legal requirement for the ceremony to take five. However, if someone has information that would nullify the wedding—the bride is a minor who lied about her age, or the groom is already married—then the couple can return their "Mr. and Mrs." towel sets, because the wedding isn't happening.

MYTH: You have up to a year after the wedding to give the couple a gift.
This myth was likely started by someone who was lazy...or broke. According to the Emily Post Institute, a guest should give a present as close to the wedding date as possible—and no later than three months afterward.

MYTH: Tossed rice makes birds explode.
If the image of bloated, belly-up birdies has you reaching for rose petals, listen up: Raw rice doesn't magically turn into Jiffy Pop in a bird's stomach, explains Laura Erickson, an expert at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. In fact, if anyone's at risk, it's you—rice scattered on the ground is insanely slippery. Watch out!

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