Flower Girl 101
Centuries ago in ancient Rome, the flower girl’s role in a wedding celebration was to carry sheaths of wheat and herbs, symbols of fertility and prosperity for the new couple. Today it seems the flower girl herself has become a sweet symbol. Not only is it her job to perfume the aisle with flower petals, she also provides a sentimental connection between childhood and womanhood, a winsome reminder of a young girl’s fantasy of being the beautiful bride.
Most brides can’t imagine their wedding without flower girls – but haven’t thought through the nuts and bolts of how to include them. Here’s everything you need to know to ensure your flower girls are more sweet than sour.
Whom? How Old? How Many?
Most brides select their flower girls from among their nieces and friends’ children, and, of course, their own children or children of the groom, if applicable. “When blending families you find a role in the wedding for every child,” says Sharon Naylor, author of over 30 wedding books including “The Bride’s Survival Guide” (Adams Media, 2009).
As for the appropriate age range, age 14 is typically the top-end, at which point a girl might become a junior bridesmaid instead, and Naylor suggests not going much younger than 4. Although girls as young as 2 can still do a great job, they generally aren’t aware of what exactly they’re doing so either have a sister, parent, bridesmaid or groomsman help them down the aisle or be prepared for them to take a route that’s quite literally off the beaten path.
The number of flower girls you want is entirely up to you and likely dictated by the makings of your family (like if you have one niece versus four); however, going with one or two usually works best, says Valarie Kirkbride, a wedding planner with Kirkbrides Wedding Planning & Design in Cleveland. “More than two can get confusing and might distract from the bride who really should be the main focus of the processional,” she says.
What They Wear
The most important advice is to be age appropriate. Existing knee-length party or communion dresses are often the perfect solution, as they are sufficiently formal and save the parents money. (Parents usually are responsible for buying the outfits.) Pair a white one with a colored sash that matches the bridesmaids or a wedding color. Other options include: the dress itself matches the color of the bridesmaids’ dresses; the dress is a lighter shade of the color of the bridesmaids’ dresses; or have the flower girls’ dress and shoe colors be the opposite of the bridesmaids’. Just be sure the fabric is comfortable for the weather, and remove any lace around the armband or neck that might cause the child to fidget.
Because flower girl dresses from bridal shops can be pricier, Kirkbride recommends checking out the holiday sales at department stores. “You’ll find lovely pastels around Easter and darker jewel tones during the winter holidays, for under $50,” she says. Naylor also suggests finding designer deals at an outlet store near you or to try to negotiate a deal from the shop where you are getting your bridesmaid dresses.
When They Walk & Where They Go
Although you can certainly order your processional however you please, typically it begins with the parents, followed by the bridesmaids, then the aisle runner and then the flower girls right before the bride, says Kirkbride. More mature girls might be able to stand with the wedding party throughout the ceremony, but it is usually best that they circle around the front row of chairs and sit with their parents or a close friend, who would ideally be seated at the end of a row near the front.
How to Make Them Comfortable
In addition to attending the rehearsal (a must), if the child has never been a flower girl before, it’s a good idea to have the parents do a fun walk-through at home about a week in advance, says Naylor. There also are library books about being a flower girl, with pictures, that can help explain what the child should expect, Kirkbride adds. And don’t be afraid to bribe – letting them know in advance that there will be a treat or toy on the chair might motivate good behavior.