FLOWER GIRLS and RING BEARERS
You may decide to have one or more Flower Girls and Ring Bearers charm your guests as they wait to see the Main Attraction. (The Bride of course.) Traditionally, Flower Girls scatter flower petals as they go down the aisle carrying a decorated basket. The Ring Bearer usually carries a small pillow with the wedding rings tied or sewn onto the pillow.
On average, these little attendants range from age 4 to 8. But we have seen toddlers younger than 2 go down the aisle. You can have one Flower Girl and one Ring Bearer. You can also have multiples of each, or either. If you have older children that you want to include in the wedding party, you can name them as Junior Bridesmaids or Groomsmen. You may have a baby or younger toddler that you want to include in your wedding ceremony. You can have older kids, other attendants or a guest push a decorated stroller or wagon up the aisle.
Your Flower Girls can scatter real or fabric flower petals or confetti. They can carry a ball of flowers or small bouquet. They can blow bubbles if you are outside, or just hold hands. If you want the girls to scatter real flower petals, just let your florist know and they can add some petals to your order. First, make sure that your venue allows real flower petals or confetti, because a lot of churches do not. You can buy fabric petals at some bridal shops and hobby/craft stores. You can find baskets in the same places or you can buy a basket and cover it with fabric or silk or real flowers.
You can buy a pillow for the Ring Bearer at the same places you can purchase the Flower Girls’ baskets. Often, the real wedding rings are safely tucked away with the attendants. The Best Man holds onto the Bride’s ring until the officiate asks for it. The Maid or Matron of Honor holds the Groom’s ring. The rings on the Ring Bearer’s pillow are usually just symbolic. But we know some people who are rather daring and let the Ring Bearer actually “bear the rings.”
Sometimes the Bride’s family pays for the outfits that their youngest attendants wear. But usually, the child’s parents pay for the clothing and the Bride’s family pays for any flowers they wear or carry. If there are multiple Flower Girls, the Bride will likely select their outfits so that they will match one another or at least coordinate. If there is only a single little attendant, or a couple of kids who are related, it is common for the child’s parents to select and pay for their outfits after getting input from the Bride.
Naturally, there are lots of options on dresses for your Flower Girls and Junior Bridesmaids. In addition to bridal salons and department stores that have wedding couture, there are quite a few websites offering flower girl dresses. They are often featured along with first communion and pageant dresses. There are hundreds of styles and colors available. You will find dresses starting just under $30. You can find plenty for $250-$450 and some up to $650 for elaborate styles. The average cost is probably about $150. But, like the Bride’s dress, the sky is the limit. Of course, you can have dresses made since there are pattern options and hundreds of fabric and trim choices. You can also check out local children’s consignment shops, Craig’s List or an online exchange for children’s clothes such as Thred-Up. See web address below.
The Ring Bearer’s parents usually either rent or purchase a tiny tux or a suit. Tuxedo shops often feature a wide variety of sizes down to size 4. If you cannot locate an appropriate outfit in a local department store, children’s boutique or tux shop, try Craig’s List or an online exchange for children’s clothes such as www.thredup.com. You might also check out local children’s consignment stores, some of which we have listed for you in our local resources section. There are also a good number of on-line stores specializing in special-occasion children’s wear. We have seen a good many small suits and tuxes on line for $50 to $160.
If a tux or suit is too formal (or too pricey), your Ring Bearer will look just as adorable in slacks and a vest. Add a bow tie and a hat to complete the look. A little sailor suit, linen shorts outfit, or a mini-sports coat are also cute options.
If your special baby will make an appearance, you will want your little one to wear a special outfit in keeping with the wedding’s style. A baby can always wear a traditional Christening gown or suit. Or perhaps what we used to call an “Easter dress” or party dress. We provide you with plenty of local spots to find beautiful options, and you can find many, many choices at specialty on-line stores. About the lowest price we spotted was about $30, and there are choices galore from $55-$150. We saw a few elaborate gowns for over $250, and there are certainly specialty dresses which run much higher.
There are no firm rules about the style or color of the Flower Girl and Junior Bridesmaid’s dress. Naturally, you want to make sure that the style and color mesh well with the formality of the Bride’s dress and the wedding colors. In some cases the younger girls’ dresses will be a version of the Bridesmaids’ dresses.
Since your tiny attendants are probably growing fast, purchasing the dress or suit way in advance is probably not the best idea. If you do purchase early, allow for growth, and allow time for last minute alterations. Some sellers of tuxes for little guys suggest that you avoid a TOO BIG suit for your little Ring Bearer. An ill-fitting tux will look like a hand-me-down.
TIPS TO ENSURE YOUR LITTLE ATTENDANTS ARE HAPPY:
Flower Girl dresses can be knee length, ankle length, or floor length. Just make sure that each little girl can walk in her dress without tripping. It is also best to make sure that fabric is not so stiff that it will scratch or itch the child. Make sure that no part of the clothing is too tight or uncomfortable. Many kids are finicky about wearing anything that is irritating and you do not want to deal with a cranky child.
Be certain to include the Flower Girls and Ring Bearers in your rehearsal. Be sure a trusted adult is with them during the rehearsal to explain to them about the wedding. Physically walk them through what they will be expected to do on the big day. If you have ever worked with kids, you know that verbal instructions make almost no impression on little ones. They need to SEE and DO in order to understand and remember.
Make sure the kids all understand that there will be lots of people there to see the wedding. We know of a little one that walked perfectly up the aisle during rehearsal, but freaked out the next day. There were people on both sides of the aisle and no one had mentioned that there would be an audience.
Many kids do not do well with surprises and are frightened by things that are unexpected. The adults will have been to a gillion (or so) weddings and they “know the drill.” But little ones will have no concept unless you prepare them in advance. You might show them a video or segment from a movie so that they can visualize what you are talking about. Show them photographs so they know that the Bride and Groom will be wearing special clothing. Make sure they know there will be music and that the friends and family they see at the wedding will be dressed up and will look different than usual.
It should go without saying, but we will say it anyway. Try to allow time in the Day-of schedule for the littlest members of the wedding party to have a nap if they still take naps. It would be helpful if the child’s parents make certain that the child has a good night’s sleep the night before the wedding. Nothing can make a child more difficult to work with than being overly tired.
LAST MINUTE TIPS
Make sure your little ones have a bathroom break a few minutes before it is time to line up for the processional. Make sure they have a snack or meal so that they will be more likely to be in a happy, predictable mood. Some kids get grumpy if they go too long without eating. And to be safe, do not get them ready too early because it may be hard to keep them “wedding-worthy.” Be sure to feed them before they put on their fancy clothes!
As guests are being seated, assign a trusted adult to stand with the children while they are waiting. Give them a heads-up when it is almost time and prompt them when it is time to start down the aisle. Have another trusted adult sitting close to the front where they will be visible to the children. This way, they have the security of walking from one adult in the back of the church to another adult in the front. Make sure they can sit down at the front where they will be supervised, unless they are old enough to stand quietly with the older attendants. You might also plan an escape route and assign a responsible adult to quietly whisk the child out of the ceremony if they are restless.
Then, relax! The reality is that you NEVER know what a child will do. Sometimes they will be too afraid to walk down the aisle at all. One little Ring Bearer at an outdoor ceremony decided to run back into the house with the bride’s wedding ring. Another little guy ran rambunctiously down the aisle and threw the pillow at the officiate before running back to his mother. Sometimes the Flower Girl dumps all of the flower petals out at one time-maybe even on the Ring Bearer’s head!!
If you choose to have children in your wedding, decide you will just enjoy their unpredictability. Because you can count on children being unpredictable. Usually, kids are so cute that they can do most anything without causing any real upset. If you are really concerned about someone causing disruption or distraction during your ceremony, you might not want to include ANY children in your wedding party (or your guest list for that matter.)
WHAT TO DO IF YOU DO NOT WANT CHILDREN IN YOUR CEREMONY
In some cases, there will be family and close friends with children who are the perfect ages to be a Flower Girl or Ring Bearer. Even if you are close to the children, you may not want to include kids in your ceremony.
It can be difficult to explain to parents that you do not want their adorable little ones to participate. But your wedding is a huge investment, and if a disruptive or unpredictable child would dampen the event for you, do not include kids. You may just not be used to kids or just not enjoy being around them. You are allowed NOT to have Flower Girls or Ring Bearers.
Since parents may approach you about the subject, you will have to be polite but firm. Just explain that your event is not “kid-friendly.” Or, you may want to say that you just want to keep it simple and not have to worry about the extra coordination required. If you opt to include you sister’s 4-year-old daughter but not your brother’s daughter of the same age-You are on your own! Best of luck to come up with a reason good enough that no feelings will be hurt. We would love to hear Followers’ ideas on the topic!
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