How to Handle the Little Ones: From Who Pays for the Flower Girl Dress to Where They Sit During the Reception

Etiquette, Kids
Flower Girl with a Calla Lily Crown

Photo: Heidi Geldhauser of Our Labor of Love

When it comes to having kids at a wedding, people are often at a loss. But two tiny tots who have guaranteed invites? Your ring bearer and flower girl. That being said, they'll need wedding party wears and a place to sit. Our etiquette experts weigh in to tell you who should pay for the flower girl dress and ring bearer outfit and how to seat them at your ceremony and reception.

Who pays for the ring bearer and flower girl outfits?
Just as adult members of a wedding party typically pay for their own attire, the same etiquette applies to your littlest attendants. Usually, the parents pay for their children's clothing; pick a couple of styles that you like (just be sure they aren't too expensive) and then let their parents choose the option that works best. However, if you have something very specific in mind that you'd like the kids to wear, then it's a thoughtful gesture to buy the flower girl's dress and/or ring bearer's suit for them as a gift, if your budget allows. Once you've decided how you are going to handle it, bring it up to the parents when you ask their permission for the children to participate in your wedding. That way, there won't be any confusion about who pays for what down the road.

Where should our flower girl and ring bearer sit during the wedding reception? Should they be with the wedding party at the head table, or seated with their parents? What if one of their parents is in the wedding party?
Children in the wedding party usually sit with their parents at the reception rather than at the head table. Or, they can be seated at the designated kids' table, if you're having one at your reception. There's often a lot of action going on at the head table — people getting up and down, guests coming to chat with the newlyweds, toasters standing to give a speech. Since there will be a lot going on, the children might not be as tended to as they should, so it's better for everyone involved if they are seated with the parents, where they will be comfortable.

If just one of the child's parents is in the wedding party, then try to seat the whole family at the head table so that family members aren't split up. If the seating plan cannot accommodate the extras at the head table, then it might be wiser to seat the family at a separate table (with their friends or other family members), even if the mother is a bridesmaid or the father is a groomsman. What's important is to come up with a seating solution where the kids (and their parents) will feel most comfortable, and if you're unsure where to place everyone, just ask — they will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

What do you do with multiple flower girls?
If you've decided to include several little attendants in your bridal party, there are many duties they'd no doubt love to take on (in additional to tossing flower petals down the aisle, of course). Here are some of our favorite ideas:

— Ask one flower girl to walk with you and carry your train.
— Ask your florist to create a garland of flowers and/or greenery and ask two flower girls to each hold one end and walk together down the aisle.
— If your flower girls are really little and you're worried they may not make it down the aisle on their own, a wagon ride is a great solution. Have the eldest flower girl pull the littlest ones down the aisle.
— Order floral crowns for each flower girl and ask them to hold hands with each other as they walk down the aisle.
— Instead of a basket of petals, they can carry more whimsical accessories, like colorful balloons, paper pinwheels, or even a bottle of bubbles to blow as she makes her way down the aisle.

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