“‘You…must remember to always be polite and patient
and calm during the wedding,’ Mommy said.
‘I know, Mommy,” Sophie said, “I’ll be super-duper good.'”
~ The Most Special Flower Girl Ever, by Linda Griffith (illustrator)
“David wasn’t sure it would be as much fun as the zoo,
but he trusted Uncle Andrew.”
~ The Best Ever Ring Bearer by Linda Griffith (illustrator)
There is nothing quite so charming and heartwarming as young children in a wedding processional. It’s also worth noting that there is nothing quite so challenging as managing young children in such circumstances. For that reason, you should select little ones who are at least three years old to be flower girls or ring bearers, and slightly older is even better. Tinier attendants sometimes decide to take a detour into the congregation or audience, become confused or frightened, break into tears and want mommy or daddy, or forget what they’re supposed to do and literally sit down on the job — right in the path of the bride!
Typical Roles for Children
Flower Girl(s): Little girls ages three – seven who are close to the bride or groom or their families may be flower girls who carry baskets of rose or other flower petals to be scattered before the bride. This is a Medieval custom that was believed to bless the bride with a lifetime of happiness. However, some venues do not permit the scattering of petals, and there are other creative ideas to be considered; these may include having your flower girl simply carry a basket of posies, a small floral hoop or wand, or even wear flowers while carrying a teddy bear.
Throughout history, flower girls have represented innocence (the bride as a child), fertility and prosperity (birth and the harvest) and purity and goodness (warding off evil spirits). Thus, from ancient Rome through the Middle Ages and Victorian Era, young girls carried sheaves of wheat, herbs and garlic as well as flowers to bestow on the bride an abundance of blessings and protection from harm.
One or more flower girls add a lovely touch to a wedding, and you may have as many as you wish provided you are prepared to manage them (I love the idea of multiple flower girls being pulled in a wagon!). As well, the flower girl can pull a wagon full of flowers with bride and bride and groom teddy bears (which can double as the flower girl’s gift from the bride), or a little boy may pull the flower girl in the wagon.
Ring Bearer: Little boys ages three – seven who are close to the bride or groom or their families may be ring bearers. As there are only two wedding rings to carry, usually only one ring bearer is needed. But, if you have more than one little boy to be included in your wedding party, you may have two ring bearers, each one carrying a pillow with a wedding ring on it. If you have several little boys to be included, consider asking them to be pages.
Like the flower girl custom, the practice of a young boy bearing the wedding rings dates back to a bygone era, this time to ancient Egypt. But there are claims that the trend caught on in Victorian England and has endured in the Western world to modern times. A pillow was used to cushion the precious wedding bands, which were secured with ribbons. Today, the real rings are frequently replaced with imitations for safety precautions, a practice I heartily endorse to eliminate one cause for anxiety! Many years ago, my maid of honor sewed the actual wedding rings on a pillow that she made herself. Our ring bearer was a very responsible five-year-old whose mother was one of my bridesmaids; the pillow with the rings was given to our exemplary ring bearer immediately prior to the processional. But, my advice today is to use “fake” wedding bands; the real ones are better off with the best man and MOH.
Pages – Boys aged eight to 12 may be pages and perform duties that include carrying wedding signs that say, “Get Ready”, “Here Comes The Bride” or “[Groom’s Name], Here Comes The Love Of Your Live” or anything else you would like; carrying balloons; escorting the flower girl(s) (or even the family pet!) up the aisle or pulling her in a wagon. Pages may also simply walk up the aisle in the same manner as the groomsmen and ushers. This is the perfect honor to bestow on boys with whom the wedding couple are close but who are too old to be a ring bearer and too young to be a groomsman. A young man age 13 or older may be a junior groomsman, along the lines of a junior bridesmaid.
Required of the Wedding Party and Parents: Patience & A Sense of Humor
Because young children, especially pre-schoolers, can be unpredictable and not necessarily subtle, anything can happen in the processional or the recessional. Patience and a sense of humor are required of all. And, for this reason a bridesmaid should be placed in charge of the youngest members of the wedding party, as the MOH will have her hands full taking care of the bride. To provide proper supervision of the little ones they must be in a practical position in the processional (whether they participate in the recessional is optional and that will be addressed in a later entry). Thus, the tradition of placing the flower girl immediately before the bride is less important than ensuring that the flower girl stays on course, and that is the last thing the bride and her escort(s) or the MOH should have to worry about!
Sometimes a parent or older sibling of the flower girl or ring bearer is in the wedding party; if that’s the case, try to position her (or him) in relation to child so he or she can provide support and encouragement. If not, then sandwiching the pages, ring bearer and flower girl(s) between the main group of bridesmaids and a singleton bridesmaid can work to keep the youngest attendants on track and help in case of emergency (see processional example below). For instance, the job of the singleton bridesmaid coming just ahead of the MOH will be to keep an eye on the children, help if the littlest ones wander off, stumble or have a meltdown. In the latter case, the bridesmaid will swoop the tyke away to her or his parents who will be standing by as pre-arranged. (More about processionals and recessionals will be addressed in a future entry.)
- Groomsmen/Ushers (singly, in pairs or paired with bridesmaids if numbers are even)
- Bridesmaids (singly, in pairs or paired with groomsmen if numbers are even)
- Junior Bridesmaid(s) (usually singly, unless there are more than one or there is a junior groomsman)
- Pages (singly or in pairs)
- Ring Bearer(s) (if two they walk as a pair)
- Flower Girl(s)(singly or in pairs)
- Bridesmaid or Junior Bridesmaid (single, to supervise children)
- Maid/Matron(s) of Honor
- Bride and Father, Mother and Father, or Other Escort(s)
All attire for the younger attendants should be age appropriate.
The flower girl’s dress should be a color that matches or coordinates with the bridesmaids’ dresses or in white to match the bride with a sash in the color of the bridesmaids’ dresses.
If the ring bearer already has a suit or other outfit that works with the style of your wedding let him wear that; otherwise he should wear something adorable and age appropriate that coordinates with the adult attendants, such as a short-pants version.
Pages should wear the same type of outfits as the groom, best man and groomsmen or a coordinating ensemble. Just keep in mind that if you have groomsmen/ushers, pages and a ring bearer that they should either all dress alike, again age appropriately, or the youngsters should dress alike and coordinate with the adults’ outfits for an overall synchronized look.
Expenses for Child and Teenage Attendants
The parents of flower girls, ring bearers and attendants, as well as underage junior bridesmaids and groomsmen are responsible for the costs of attire, accessories and transportation to and from the rehearsal and wedding ceremony.
Older children who are in the wedding party should attend the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, but unless the rehearsal dinner (or party) is informal very young pre-school children should not be expected to attend. In the case of a more formal sit-down dinner, either the parents should arrange to have the tots picked up and taken home by a relative or babysitter, or the bride and groom could arrange for childcare and a place for the babes to nap during the dinner. More about this will appear in a later entry.
Although gender roles traditionally have been assigned to children who participate in wedding ceremonies, i.e., flower girls, and boys are typically asked to be ring bearers and pages, you can certainly mix things up. Girls have filled the role of ring bearer and boys have scattered flower petals and alternatively they can carry a hoop of flowers or two boys can carry a garland between them. Just make sure that if you do plan to switch traditional roles that all parents and children involved are comfortable with your choices and agree to them.
The Decision to Include Children
Including children in your wedding party should depend on the type of wedding you will have, your temperament and that of your betrothed, the number of adult attendants so that an adult will be available to supervise the little ones, the willingness of the parents, the convenience of travel and accommodations and other practicalities. If you are a perfectionist, or if your betrothed or parents are, and it will be considered a disaster if one of the children makes a mistake or decides not to cooperate, you might want to reconsider including young attendants. On the other hand if you and your intended and the parents have patience, senses of humor and feel that such unexpected incidents only add to the charm and wonderful memories of the day, then by all means include the kids!
Until next time,