Those cute kids walking down the aisle

Little children walking down the aisle is one of the cutest moments in a wedding.  Flower girls, ring bearers… do you need them, and do you want them? As with most things in life, it depends.

There certainly is no requirement that you include them, but if you do, there are many variations on this theme. I’ve seen girls carrying bouquets and baskets, tossing petals, riding in carts, walking with dogs, carrying signs, and little boys carrying the ring pillow or box with the rings, holding cute signs, walking with other children, and entering on a tricycle or little motorized toy car. I’ve even seen adults as ‘flower women’ – which is surprising, but pretty cool.

Signage is great! (mi & mo photography)

Putting a spin on this tradition really can bring something fresh to any wedding. If there are kids to involve – use them well.

So how did this ritual evolve?

Those adorable kids (Rhinehart Photography)

Dating back from a time when brides themselves were quite young, the flower girl led the bride in as a symbol of innocence. In ancient Roman and Greek times she would scatter herbs and grains to beckon fertility for the new union. I know I’m often referencing ancient times, but it’s because that is where we find the roots of so many of our traditions. By the medieval era sheaths of wheat were carried in the wedding procession. (See my ‘brief history of weddings’ column for more).

Kids and dogs!! (photo: I AM LKC)

In some cultures, only female children attended to the bride, not her adult friends or relatives, so multiple flower girls were not uncommon. There was a lot of emphasis on innocence (read: virginity).

The ring bearer was traditionally a young male servant, his role, too, dating back to ancient Egypt when jewels were displayed on ornamental pillows during a wedding. Show-offs!

Later, it became common in Europe to exchange wedding rings, and this young boy continued to be a part of the ceremony, as the two traditions merged, leading to the pillow being used to carry the rings.

I love seeing a flower girl and ring bearer enter together. They can help each other be brave as they take that walk with all eyes upon them. But of course any combination, whatever the number, will always be adorable.

Walking together is good (Glen Durrell Photography)

Many couples choose to have their ring bearer as merely symbolic rather than as a functional, but which I mean instead of entrusting their actual wedding rings to a young child, instead they attach fake rings to the pillow. If the real rings are placed on the pillow, be sure to secure them in some way, to prevent them from being lost. Then have the rings delivered directly to a best man or woman or the officiant. The kid doesn’t need to hold them through the ceremony!

I was once witnessed a ring bearer drop the real rings in an especially inaccessible spot – and it took quite a while for them to be found. It is not something I want to ever see again!

It’s a good idea to rehearse the children, especially for petal tossing, my personal favorite choice. Practice using leaves or anything at all, and when the day comes she will be well prepared to toss that trail of rose petals for the bride to walk upon. Please explain it to her – it will help her understand the importance of her ritual, which, in simplistic terms is that she is leading the way and protecting the bride on her special day. You can skip the fertility part

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 the bride alone – so she enters right before the bride. But sometimes it is better to send kids in first. Children and pets always upstage adults anyway. And it can’t hurt to get the ones done, seated and out of the way, especially if there’s a case of stage fright! Who hasn’t seen kids crying or balking at performing their task?

It can be absolutely adorable to include children in your processional, just know what you’re getting into beforehand, and embrace it in any way that works for you.

That's an entrance! (Sabrina Schantzen photography)



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