Everything You Need to Know About the Flower Girl Tradition

Including where it originated

<p>flower girls</p>

Photo by Kadeem Johnson and Dar Es Salaam Riser

Flower girls are adorable additions to any wedding. Even if kids aren't your thing, it's hard to deny the cuteness that comes with a little tot all dolled up in tulle throwing petals down the aisle. Usually, the youngest person in the wedding party, the flower girl typically precedes the bride down the aisle, throwing petals along the way. The tradition began in Ancient Rome, where the flower girl carried wheat and herbs for the bride and groom.

Flower girls aren't a necessity for your big day, and we'll go into alternatives later, but if you decide to incorporate the tradition into your wedding, there might be some questions that arise. Like, who should the flower girl be? What should they wear? And how old should they be? We answers these questions and more ahead.

Meet the Expert

Editor Liz Susong has a weekly column called Catalyst Wedding Co. that is devoted to the feminist bride. There she dives headfirst into the crazy history behind common wedding traditions we may take for granted.

The History and Meaning of the Flower Girl

Upper-class Greeks and Romans often included little girls in the wedding procession who walked ahead of the bride, “showering her path with grains and herbs,” which of course represented the collective hope that this woman could also make little humans just like the ones tossing oatmeal, lest she be doomed to a life of barren dread.

The interpretation of this tradition got a little looser and a little weirder around the Elizabethan era, when the inclusion of children in the wedding party itself was more a reflection of how the culture idealized childhood, seeing kids as “symbols of hope and innocence.” Since the flower girl walks down the aisle before the bride, she's meant to represent a younger, more innocent version of the bride and symbolizes the transformation from child to adult.

Flower Girl FAQs

Who should be the flower girl?

If you don't have any young daughters of your own, you can recruit your best friend's child, cousins, nieces, the little girl you sometimes babysit, etc.

How old should they be?

Usually they range from three to eight years old. You can, of course, go with someone younger. As long as you're confident in their ability to get down the aisle, it's really up to you.

Can I have more than one?

Definitely. Heck, Kate Moss had 12 at her wedding. If you have a big family or a bunch of nieces, it might be a good idea to include everyone to avoid anyone feeling left out.

What should they wear?

Traditionally, the flower girl's dress is similar to the bride's gown. But you can also have the dress mirror that of the bridesmaids, whether that's incorporating a similar print or the same color.

Who should pay for the dress?

Typically, their parents are expected to pay for the outfit. If what you're envisioning is a bit pricey though you might volunteer to cover the cost.

Do they have to throw flowers?

Nope, they can carry everything from colorful balloons to pinwheels or a bottle of bubbles to blow as they walk down the aisle. The possibilities are endless.

How will they process?

If the flower girl is old enough to walk on her own, she should head down the aisle after the wedding party and before the bride. If they're too young to walk or tend to be a little fussy or shy, Involving their mom or dad to help carry or hold their hand is also an option.

Do I also have to have them at the reception?

Not if you don't want to. If you're having a no kids allowed wedding, tell the flower girl's parents in advance and help to arrange a babysitter to look after them as the party happens.

Should I get them a thank you gift?

It's a nice idea, especially if you're getting the rest of your wedding party something. It doesn't have to be that expensive, a doll or a personalized gift box are just some ideas.

Flower Girl Alternatives

You can choose to skip out on having flower girls altogether, or you can get creative by giving the role to a friend or family member that isn't already a part of the wedding party. You can even give this role to a pet who is trained and able to follow the cue of when to walk down the aisle.

Some people are even inviting their grandparents to walk down the aisle instead. The idea being that you're able to incorporate them into your big day and honor them in some way. The act became somewhat of a trend last year and has made the concept of "flower grandmas" a thing.

If you still want the little ones to be a part of your wedding, but you're not into the origins of the flower girl tradition, you can also have them be greeters at the wedding, waving to guests as they arrive to set a fun, cute mood. Or, if they're older and capable enough, recruit them to be the ushers who are typically responsible for handing out programs and escorting guests to their respective sides.

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