What's the Deal with Junior Bridesmaids?

Bridesmaids, Etiquette
difference between flower girl and junior bridesmaid

Photo: Kella MacPhee

She's too old to be a flower girl, too young to be a bridesmaid and, whether she's a sister, cousin, or the girl you've babysat since she was in diapers, you really want her to be in your wedding. Easy: Make her a junior bridesmaid! Well... not so easy. You might know exactly what your 'maids are supposed to do leading up to your wedding, and choosing, dressing, and training a flower girl is pretty straightforward. But what does a junior bridesmaid actually do? Our experts weigh in.

The short answer is that junior bridesmaids wear a dress that's similar to your bridesmaids', and walk down the aisle, often accompanying the flower girl and ring bearer (especially if they're too young to really get it). If you want her to be involved in your wedding beyond a merely honorary role, here are a few ways to include her.

Invite her to your bridal shower. The most tame of your pre-wedding events, this is the perfect place to have your junior bridesmaid tag along. It's during the day, there's not (too much) booze flowing, and there's a pretty good chance she'll be stiff competition in any bridal shower games your hostesses opt to play. Better yet, if she's the daughter of your favorite aunt, your junior bridesmaid can get involved in the planning, too. She won't be able to chip in with the costs, but whether it's setting out escort cards or baking celebratory cupcakes, she'll be thrilled to be involved.

See more: How to Include a Tween Attendant in Your Wedding

Include her in your pre-wedding pampering. If you've scheduled an afternoon of mani-pedis the day before your wedding, invite your junior bridesmaid to tag along. It's never too early to introduce her to the concept of girl time!

Bring her dress-shopping. This is a no-brainer way to include a junior bridesmaid who is also your little sister. Sure, if she's on the younger side, her taste may lean more "fairy princess" than "modern bride", but who knows — maybe you really want sparkles and didn't even know it! And if she's a little bit older, she probably reads enough fashion magazines to banter with the best of you about fit, shape, and styling. And of course, try to plan a special shopping trip to find her dress, too! A lot of bridesmaid dress designers are creating more modest and youthful designs for junior bridesmaids, so she can match your 'maids perfectly. If she's in those awkward teen years, shopping with her instead of for her will make sure she feels comfortable and beautiful in whatever she's wearing on your big day.

Give her a role on the big day. Before she heads down the aisle, your junior bridesmaid would be the perfect person to hand out programs as guests arrive at your ceremony, or could be extremely helpful wrangling your flower girl or ring bearer. If she's comfortable speaking in front of crowds, you might even ask her to do a reading. And if she's your little sister, ask her to make a toast during the reception — even if she's toasting with ginger ale instead of champagne.

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