WHO: Flower girls and ring bearers are usually between four and eight years old. A good candidate is a child who follows directions, feels comfortable around crowds (even when his parents aren't around), likes to smile, and under no circumstances will upstage the star of the aisle—you!
WHAT: The ring bearer (most commonly a boy, though girls now frequently fill the role, too) carries faux bride's and groom's rings tied to a small decorative pillow. He's followed down the aisle by the flower girl, who scatters petals along the bride's path.
WEAR: Traditionally, flower girls wore party dresses, and ring bearers wore shorts with knee socks and a jacket called an Eton suit. Today, anything goes, as long as it's age-appropriate and works with your wedding—saris, sundresses, overalls, sailor suits.
HOW: Include the kids in the rehearsal, so they can practice their parts and become comfortable with the site. At the ceremony, make sure everyone knows where the restrooms are; just before the processional, seat the parents on the aisle, so the kids will see familiar faces as they walk in.
If they freak...
Let them skip the walk and sit with their family during the ceremony. (Even youngsters who make it down the aisle should join their parents afterward, not stand up front making faces during the service.)
Who needs a time-out?
"As she approached the altar, my daughter announced very loudly that she had to 'pee and poopie.'"
—Jennifer W., Chapel Hill, NC
"My flower girl scowled in every photo and refused to walk down the aisle, so the ring bearer stepped in—and dragged her the whole way."
—Shari M., Louisville, KY
"During the processional, the ring bearer kept running ahead of everyone and, at one point, threw himself on the floor and started growling. I saw him later that night, crawling on the dance floor and under tables, looking up women's skirts."
—Paige D., Fort Collins, CO
Beyond the petal toss
Instead of scattering petals, the flower girl can:
• Flutter a flag or pennant in your wedding colors
• Blow bubbles
• Twirl a parasol
• Ring a bell
• Carry a pinwheel, single blossom, or paper lantern
• Wave a wand