The History Of the Flower Girl and the Ring Bearer
Updated: Mar 15
If you're the midst of planning a wedding, you might have asked yourself, "Who should be my flower girl and ring bearer?", "What are they supposed to wear?", "Why did we start putting flower girls and ring bearers in our weddings in the first place?". To answer these questions, we have to go all the way back in time to the Roman Empire and Ancient Egypt.
Early Beginnings of the Flower Girl
It was typical for upper-class Greeks and Romans to include flower girls in their weddings. The flower girls walked in front of bride, scattering flowers, herbs, and grains. Wheat was commonly used as a grain to be scattered because it was believed to bring prosperity to the bride and groom. The inclusion of a flower girl represented the hope that the bride would be blessed with the ability to have children of her own, similar to the young girl tossing petals and herbs.
During the Renaissance period, flower girls switched from carrying flowers and grains to carrying strands of garlic. The garlic was believed to ward off evil spirits and protect the newly weds.
During the Elizabethan Era, flower girls had quite a bit of responsibility. Along with the help of other wedding guests, the flower girl was in charge of scattering flower petals to create a path from the bride's home to the church where she was supposed to be wed. During the actual wedding ceremony, the flower girl would follow the musicians in the procession. She typically would carry with her a "bride's cup" to keep the flower petals in instead of a basket we see today. The bride's cup was usually adorned with ribbons and rosemary springs. The inclusion of flower girls during this time period represented two things. The first was a reflection of how the culture idealized childhood, seeing children of symbols of hope and innocence. The second was the idea that a flower girl represented a younger, more innocent version of the bride.
The flower girl from this era most directly resembles the flower girl we know today. She would typically be dressed in white with a colored sash tied around her waist. The dress was usually made out of muslin and had a simple design so the dress could be worn for future use. The Victorian Era flower girl carried a basket of fresh blooms or a floral hoop which resembled the wedding ring to symbolize endless love.
Today's Flower Girl
The flower girl that we know today is typically a member of the bride or groom's family or the child of a close friend. The flower girl is typically three to eight years old. If you have more than one eligible flower girl, we recommend including all of them as flower girls to prevent anyone from feeling left out. The dress of the flower girl is usually white to resemble the bride's dress with a colored sash that coordinates with the bridesmaid's dresses. However, there is no specific guidelines for what the flower girl's dress needs to look like. It is completely up to the bride.
LE Flower Girl Dresses
At little english, we have beautiful special occasion dresses that would flatter any flower girl. The Sleeveless Special Occasion Dress is a great option to make any flower girl feel special. This dress features a Peter Pan collar for a sweet look. You can pair this dress with any of our Bow Sashes that come in light pink, light blue, champagne, and white. The Bow Sashes come with buttons that make it adjustable to ensure the perfect fit for every girl. The sashes also look great paired with the Peter Pan Formal Dress. The Peter Pan Formal Dress features cap sleeves and a lovely detailed skirt. Both of these dresses start at 12M and go to a size 8.
For a flower girl dress or wedding guest dress that is more suitable for an older girl, we love The Cora Dress in special occasion white. The Cora Dress features a bow that ties in the front of the dress which is a flattering style for big girl. We love the a-line silhouette for this dress because it's such an age appropriate style. It doesn't read little girl like a Peter Pan collar sometimes can, but it's also classic enough to encompass the sweetness and innocence of a flower girl. The Cora Dress is available in sizes 4-14.
Back to Ancient Egypt: The Ring Bearer Origins
The tradition of the ring bearer dates all the way back to ancient Egyptian times. During that era, it was commonplace for treasured jewels to be carried on an ornamental pillow during large celebrations. The showcasing of these jewels was specifically common for wedding celebrations, where heirloom jewels would be passed down to the bride and groom. Although many historians speculate that adults were in charge of presenting the jewels during these celebrations, it's now become common practice for boys ages 2-8 to carry and present the wedding rings to the bride and groom.
During this time period, it was common practice for a young page boy to carry the train of the bride-to-be while she processed down the isle. The page boy also typically carried a book of prayers. Wedding dresses in the Medieval era, especially those belonging to royalty, were ornate and intricate dresses with very long and dramatic trains. Carrying the bride's train was quite an important duty for a young boy.
A separate wedding guest was responsible for presenting the rings on a pillow. Because pillows were rare during this time, only wealthy families were able to participate in this tradition. As the fashion of wedding dresses evolved, trains became shorter and less intricate. It was during this transition that page boys took over the responsibility of presenting the rings to bride and groom instead of carrying the dress' train.
The role of the ring bearer really began to take flight during the Victorian era. The ring bearer typically wore a velvet jacket, short trousers, and round linen collars similar to the Peter Pant collar that little english implements in many of their designs. The young boy also wore a large white crepe bow fastened to his collar. During the Victorian era, the inclusion of a ring bearer was reserved for well-to-do families. It wasn't until the past 100 years that the ring bearer became a common addition to all wedding parties.
How to Dress the Modern Ring Bearer
Most ring bearers today are around the ages of 4-10. You can always go younger or older if you like! When it comes to an outfit for the ring bearer, there is quite a bit of wiggle room. For an older boy we suggest dressing him in a suit that resembles that of the groom. For a younger ring bearer we love our Classic Wedding Short Set. This traditional two-piece outfit features a peter pan collar with pintucks at the chest and elastic on the back of the waistband. The short set is available in White, Light Blue, and Champagne which is sure to match any wedding color palette.
If you have any flower girls or ring bearers wearing little english, send us a picture at email@example.com. We love to see how our readers style The Special Occasion Collection!