Every culture has its own set of wedding customs and traditions. Though fashions change, many of them are still practiced today. One of the oldest bridal customs is the role of the flower girl. Long before there was a wedding party, young girls walked before the bride to symbolize her transition to womanhood. They were often her only attendants.
However, they did not actually scatter flowers. In early Greek and Roman times, flower girls would sprinkle grains and herbs before the bride, since they were symbols of fertility. Also used as a symbol of fertility, flower girls in medieval Europe carried sheaves of wheat. What about the flower girls of today?
Most historians give credit to Queen Victoria for starting the popular western tradition of the white wedding. Before that time, royal brides rarely wore white. But when the most powerful woman in the world married Prince Albert in 1840, woman of status followed her lead. The white wedding gown would come to symbolize innocence and chastity. For these very same reasons, the flower girl is the only other female at the ceremony who is allowed, even encouraged to wear white.
The flowers are a bit harder to explain. Historians speculate that Victoria was one of the few queens to marry for love, rather than for political reasons. As a result, the idea of romantic love became popular during her reign. In fact, men first started sending flowers to women they fancied in the Victorian era. Therefore, we can safely assume that the petals the flower girls scatters before the bride are a symbol of romantic love.
Choosing a Flower Girl
The flower girl is invariably the most adorable and tiniest member of the bridal party. But her job isn’t nearly as easy as it looks. Just like the bridesmaids, she must get fitted for a dress, attend rehearsals, perform on the big day and pose for pictures. Traditionally, the flower girl is a relative of the bride or groom, often a young cousin or a niece between the ages of four and eight. Because they play an important role in the ceremony, it is often a good idea to choose a girl that is closer to eight than she is to four. It is also perfectly permissible to choose more than one flower girl. Some ceremonies have as many as four!
Choosing a Dress
The single most important consideration when choosing a dress is comfort. Modern girls between the ages of four and eight are not accustomed to wearing formal dresses for long periods of time. On the wedding day, she will have to look cute and comfortable in her dress for at least two hours (the ceremony). If she is an older girl, she will be expected to stand with the bridesmaids while the vows are read.
Tradition dictates that the flower girl must walk before the bride, so she can scatter the flower petals along the aisle. As we said, the flower girl is the only female who is allowed to wear white, since her dress is often a much smaller version of the bridal gown. It is no wonder flower girls often steal the show.
Most designers offer miniature versions of their dresses just for the flower girls, so finding a dress should not be a problem. If the parents are paying, however, price may be a factor. Their daughter will only wear her flower girl dress once, so spending several hundred dollars on it might seem a bit unreasonable.
A miniature bridesmaids’ dress is generally a more comfortable and affordable alternative to the tiny bridal gown. Alterations can always be made if the bridesmaids are wearing more adult numbers, like strapless dresses.
The most common mistake parents make with flower girl dresses is that they get a bit carried away. Yes, it is a special day, but putting a young girl in a dress designed for grownups is a recipe for disaster. In short, most little girls have no experience walking in heavy, floor length dresses. This may lead to an embarrassing episode, i.e., the flower girl may trip. Sure, the crowd will understand, but the child may be upset. We recommend a tea-length dress.
Modern brides often change out of their bridal gowns into reception gowns for a very good reason–wedding dresses are uncomfortable. Now, if a grown woman can’t wait to get out of her dress, imagine how a little girl feels. The parents of the flower girl should make certain the material breathes well and that it won’t irritate her skin. If she complains about her dress at any time before the wedding, parents should bring along a lighter, more comfortable dress for her to change into before the reception.
If the flower girl chooses to stand with the bridesmaids, she will need a pair of comfortable shoes. Ceremonies can last for over an hour, and little girls that are not used to walking or standing in dress shoes may not be able to keep their composure. We recommend white sandals or slip-on pumps. Flower girls are also encouraged to wear tiaras, colorful sashes, and even some jewelry.
Follow these practical tips when picking out the flower girl dress for your wedding and your smallest attendant will be happy and simply adorable as she precedes you down the aisle.
By Optimusius1 from Pixabay