The Flower Girl

One of the most famous little girls in recent history is Princess Charlotte, the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  As one of the four flower girls at the wedding of her Aunt Pippa Middleton to James Matthews in May of 2017 the two year old Princess Charlotte looked so sweet in her lovely ivory dress with the big bow tied in the back.

In this post I will discuss the origin and history behind the role of the flower girl and what their purpose is in today’s modern weddings.  I will also give some ideas for several different types of flower girl baskets as well as some alternative items that a flower girl can carry on a wedding day.  (For information regarding the Ring Bearer, please click on the link)

The origin and history of the flower girl

In the wedding procession the flower girl will usually precede the bride down the aisle tossing flower petals along the way but how did this tradition get started and how has it changed throughout the years.

The custom of a flower girl dates back centuries ago to the time of the Ancient Romans when young girls were chosen to carry wheat sheaves or herbs possibly to symbolize fertility and prosperity for a young married couple.  Later during the Renaissance garlic would be carried to ward off evil spirts that could bring back luck.

During the Elizabethan Era flower petals would be throw along the path from the bride’s house to the church were the ceremony would take place.  Then the bridal party would walk in procession to the church and the flower girls would carry small flower and rosemary bouquets.

In the Victorian Era the flower girl would wear white dress with a colorful sash tied at the waist, the practical idea was that the dress could be worn again after the wedding.  The flower girl carried a decorated basket filled with flower petals or sometimes a floral wreath which was meant to symbolize never ending love.  Most recently, in the case of British Royal weddings, multiple flower girls participate in the ceremony.

The role of a flower girl in today’s modern weddings

  • Flower girls are generally related to either the bride or the groom and it is best if they are between the ages of three to eight years old. In the wedding procession, the flower girl follows the bridesmaids and is postioned just in front of the maid/matron of honor and the bride.
  • Traditionally, the flower girl will carrying a basket filled with flower petals and toss them as she moves down the aisle. An alternative for the flower girl to carry could be a pomander ball, a floral wreath or a wand.
  • If the flower girl is too shy or nervous to walk alone they can walk with the ring bearer.
  • Another idea to make the flower girl feel more comfortable, is to position their parents near the front of the ceremony to “rescue” them if they get anxious or upset. If the wedding ceremony is too long, the flower girl can sit with her parents after walking down the aisle.
  • Occasionally, the decision to choose one young girl to be a flower girl can be difficult to narrow down. Sometimes for this reason multiple children can be selected to walk down the aisle in pairs.
  • It is a nice idea for the flower girl and her mother to be invited to the bridal shower and/or the bridal luncheon. This would allow the flower girl to meet the other people in the bridal party and it would make her feel more comfortable.
  • If problems happen (like dropping the basket, being fussy or crying) just stay calm and hopefully the flower girl’s parents can step in to handle the situation.

Ideas for traditional flower girl baskets

A flower girl will traditionally carry a basket filled with flower petals that she will toss onto the ground as she precedes the bride down the aisle at the wedding ceremony. So, here are some ideas for flower girl baskets …

 An example of traditional flower girl basket
A classic white fabric basket with lace trim and stain bow and crystal brooch accent

An example of twig baskets embellished with flowers

A twig basket decorated with greenery

An example of an elegant silver basket

Ideas for flower girl pomanders

Another traditional idea for flower girls to carry on a wedding day is the pomander or a “kissing ball”, usually with a ribbon loop handle attached at the top.  Shown below are a few ideas for pomanders using a variety of materials.      

An example of floral pomander

A pine cone pomander for a winter wedding

A seashell pomander for a summer or beach wedding

Ideas for non-traditional flower girl alternatives

Most recently creative brides have been coming up with some unusual items linked to a specific season or wedding theme for their flower girls to carry down the aisle. Shown below are some examples of alternative items for a flower girl.

A metal beach pail embellished with seashells

A seashell for a summer or beach themed wedding

A hallowed pumpkin with a twig handle for a fall wedding

A white furry muff embellished with white roses and evergreen

Two wonderful ideas for a nightime wedding –

A metal lantern embellished with roses and ivy

A twig ball with handle accented with “fairy lights” (right)

SPECIAL NOTE AND CAUTION WARNING! – do not use an open flame for a nighttime wedding especially when the item with be handled by children.  Instead use a battery operated candle or a string of small battery operated lights which are available at a retail or craft store.

A whimsical silver teapot filled with filled with flowers

A rose heart wand for a flower girl

A starfish wand  for a beach wedding

Finally, in recent years the trend has been for the flower girl to carry a sign and shown below are two examples

Finally, shown below is a photo when I was a flower girl back in the 1960s.  The dress was made of orange satin and I carried a white wicker basket.  (I still have the dress and the white wicker basket packed away in a box which I have stored in my closet!)