There's perhaps nothing more adorable than a grinning flower girl toddling down the aisle, tossing rose petals and garnering giggles as she goes — so cute she'll almost steal the show. But to win over your guests, she has to be willing to walk down the aisle in the first place. If you worry your flower girl is too shy to take the first step, we've got the expert tips that will make her want to take that special walk.
Choose the right flower girl
You can coach a shy child down the aisle, but there's no fix for immaturity. So while you may love your niece, for example, it might be best to assign her a different role if she isn't responsible enough for this one. "I actually advise couples to take personality and maturity into account more so than chronological age," explains Emilie Duncan, owner of Emilie Duncan Event Planning in Columbus, Ohio. Talk to the child's parents to gauge whether she can handle it. Or, if she's old enough, "you might ask her, too," says Duncan. "She might have a strong opinion one way or another."
Let the parents know the plan
Some venues simply don't allow rose petals to be tossed. Be sure to check, and if your flower girl won't be doing a traditional petal toss, let her parents know "as soon as possible so the little girl isn't practicing 'incorrectly,'" advises Duncan. In place, have your flower girl practice with a flower wand, crown, or sign. It's better for her to know what she'll be doing, rather than find out at your rehearsal that "what she'd been practicing for so many months was wrong," says Duncan. "I've seen tears when an already-nervous flower girl finds out she isn't tossing anything."
Have her walk toward some she loves
Allow the flower girl's parents or her favorite relative to stand where you'll exchange vows before she takes her first step. "If there is someone that the flower girl knows at the end of the aisle — someone she can walk to — that usually makes her feel more comfortable," Duncan explains. "It also helps if I, as a planner, can tell them they should just head toward Dad or Mom or Grandma or Uncle Jon."
Change your lineup
If you're worried your flower girl might "freeze or have a meltdown" midway down the aisle, it's best to have her precede your maid of honor, not you, suggests Duncan. "That way, if the little one is in a pool of tears in the middle of the processional, the bride isn't the one grabbing her hand or picking her up!" she explains.
Most importantly, don't stress out over whether your flower girl will be cute or cause a scene. "In the end, the reality of working with kids is that they are totally unpredictable and couples have to be willing to just let whatever happens happen — we can't control how the kids react!" Duncan says. "If a flower girl dissolves into a pool of tears at the back of the aisle, or they lay down in middle and start making a snow angel in the petals, the couple has to be willing to laugh it off and chalk it up as a story to tell when the flower girl gets married!"