Flower girls & ring bearers… from ancient times to now!

The flower girl walking down the aisle before the bride is truly an ‘ahhh’ moment in any wedding.  Did you ever wonder how this ritual came about?

Photo Credit: Michael Straub Photography


Historically the flower girl was a symbol of innocent, back from a time when brides themselves were also quite young. In classical Roman and Greek times, the flower girl would scatter herbs and grains to beckon fertility for the new union. By medieval times sheaths of wheat were carried in the wedding procession.

In some cultures only female children attended to the bride, not her adult friends or relatives, and multiple flower girls were not uncommon. And today, you may have several flower girls if you wish. All the more charming, in my opinion.

The contemporary image of a flower girl is of a young girl, sometimes in white, with perhaps a brightly colored sash, carrying a bouquet or basket of petals. It is a beautiful, time-honored tradition that will bring charm to your wedding.

A flower girl paired with a little boy walking down the aisle as ring bearer is great, too. They can help each other be brave as they take that walk with all eyes upon them.

The ring bearer was traditionally a page, and his role dates back to ancient Egypt when jewels were displayed on ornamental pillows during a wedding. When it later became common in Europe to exchange wedding rings, and the ring bearer became an important part of the ceremony, the two traditions merged, leading to the pillow being used to carry the rings.

Some couples choose to have a ring bearer as merely symbolic rather than as a functional task. Instead of entrusting their actual wedding rings to a young child, they instead tie fake rings onto the pillow. If the real rings are placed on the pillow, be sure to secure them well. I was once witnessed a ring bearer drop the real rings and it took quite a while for them to be found. It is not something I want to ever see again!

It’s a great idea to rehearse the children, especially if the flower girl is tossing petals, my personal favorite choice for her. She can practice this as a game, using leaves or anything at all, and when the big day comes she will be well prepared to toss a trail of rose petals for the bride to walk upon. Please explain her role to her – it will help her understand the importance of her ritual. I usually tell her that she is preparing a bed of petals for the bride on her special day, giving it a nice princess spin.

I’m often asked about the order of the processional, and regarding the flower girl it’s easiest to remember that her petals are there for the bride, and her alone – so the flower girl always enters right before the bride.

The bride or groom may wish to give the flower girl and ring bearer small gifts, as thanks for their help. Feel free to reinterpret these traditions, but its fun to know how they evolved!


Thanks again to Michael Straub for the beautiful photograph!

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