Traditionally, back when a bath was considered a luxury, a flower girl spread petals to cover up the bride’s less-than-pleasant scent. A ring bearer’s job consisted of carrying the prayer book, bride’s train and rings. A pillow to carry rings later appeared in ceremonies as a sign of wealth - pillows back then being a luxury few could afford. Over time, as showering became more regular and dresses less heavy, the purpose and roles of flower girls and ring bearers changed; today, they’re used as a way to incorporate young family members or loved ones in the ceremony rather than provide a needed service.
Whether to include a ring bearer or flower girl as a member of a bridal party can be a difficult decision. A child’s age, temperament and personality must be included when considering inviting them to participate in a ceremony. A child who is too young will likely not walk down the aisle. It’s not uncommon for girls to start crying and boys to freeze right before beginning their duties. A child who is too old may question why they are not a junior bridesmaid or groomsmen. It’s almost a certainty that a high-stress child will burst into tears immediately before walking down the aisle, and that a shy child will run quite fast to the altar.
Of course, a calm child between the ages of 5-8 can be a quite lovely addition to a ceremony. Few things are sweeter than a nicely-dressed child smiling as he or she precedes a bride down the aisle.
However, there are still considerations when including the perfect child in a ceremony. First, many churches do not permit scattering petals due to their lack of interest in sweeping them away after the ceremony’s conclusion. This means that flower girls are often provided with a small bouquet or pomander ball in lieu of loose petals. While you may be okay with that, a child who has set her heart on scattering petals might find this a little disconcerting. To lessen the possibility of a freak-out when handed a pomander, mention the type of flowers the little darling will receive several times to her in advance of the wedding.
Second, please never, ever send a ring bearer down the aisle with thousands of dollars worth of jewelry that is not securely affixed to the pillow. If necessary, learn some basic sewing skills to securely attach those precious symbols to the ring bearer’s ceremony accessory. Fake rings are also an acceptable substitute. Nothing is worse than asking guests to engage in a hunt for rings under their seats in the middle of the ceremony.
Third, be considerate of the cost of children’s wedding attire. For some reason, there is a severe dearth of affordable, nice-looking flower girl dresses. (Hint: if in need of a flower girl dress, try small, local children’s dress or quinceanera shops and avoid – at all costs – pageant dress shops.) Child-sized tuxedos and suits are usually reasonably priced. Keep in mind that you’re essentially asking parents to spend $150.00 on an outfit their child will wear for about 6 hours.
Fourth and finally, give your child attendants a thank-you gift that is age appropriate, entertaining and fun. Children (and their parents) love a small bag of new toys or goodies to play with during the reception, and it’s usually that gift that the child remembers and talks about the most.