The youngest members of the bridal party are known as flower girls, rather than bridesmaids. Junior bridesmaids are generally around the ages of nine to fourteen, whereas flower girls are even younger, between four and nine years old. It can be a little tricky to remember the differences between the various roles within the bridal party, but the flower girl is typically involved in simpler duties.
Historically, flower girls would carry wheat and herbs down the aisle as a symbol of fertility for the newlywedded couple. As most weddings at the time consisted of arranged marriages for the purpose of securing lineage and having children, it was considered auspicious to give the couple blessings of fertility during their union. During the Renaissance period, superstition was high, so garlic was additionally carried by flower girls to ward away malicious spirits.
Flowers are much more aesthetically pleasing than wheat, herbs or garlic, however, so during the 16th century, flower petals became the more popular choice. The main duty of the flower girl in modern weddings is to scatter flower petals in front of the bride as she walks down the aisle. Rose petals are traditional and symbolise love and passion, however, there are no hard and fast rules, so other flower petals such as hydrangeas, delphiniums or wildflowers make a lovely alternative. Even rose petals can vary in size and colour, so having the flower girl scatter a mix of petals means the bride will be walking on a beautifully varied floral path. If allergies are a concern, artificial petals made of silk, paper or a range of other fabrics can be purchased and scattered, and in many cases, they are almost indistinguishable from real petals.
Scattered petals aren’t to everyone’s taste, as some brides may be concerned that pollen could transfer to the bottom of their wedding dresses. For an autumn or winter wedding, throwing leaves and pinecones are a seasonal alternative, however it’s important that the bride takes care not to trip as pinecones are rather bulky. A lighter touch might be feathers, which also come in a range of colours.
Some venues do not allow the scattering of petals or other small items due to the difficulty in sweeping them up. If the flower girl is not given a scattering basket, there are several other tidier tasks she could carry out instead, including blowing bubbles, holding balloons or carrying a photo of a deceased loved one. If pets are allowed, she could even lead the family dog down the aisle. Alternatively, the couple may simply ask the flower girl to walk with the bridesmaids to add the cuteness factor.
Flower girls are commonly found at weddings worldwide, and it’s undeniable that they add an adorable touch to any wedding. Nonetheless, they aren’t obligatory, so if the couple is not acquainted with any young girls via family or friends, the lack of flower girl will not negatively affect the wedding ceremony.