The flower girl is an important part of the wedding ceremony. Guests always look forward to seeing her and the ring bearer walk down the aisle, almost as much as they do the bride and groom. Usually, the flower girl is a member of the bride or groom’s family, and she can be between the ages of 3-10 years old. But there is more significance behind the tradition of the flower girl than just sprinkling flowers down the aisle. The tradition of a flower girl has a long standing history, which has evolved over time since the tradition was first created.
During the Roman Empire, the tradition of flower girls first emerged. A young, virginal flower girl would be chosen to carry a stalk of wheat during the ceremony. The wheat was a symbol of prosperity at the time, and the flower girl carried it to symbolize the blessing of the bride and groom with a fertile and prosperous life together. Brides who would like to incorporate the Roman tradition of the flower girl can interlace stalks of wheat with dainty and fragrant sprigs of lavender.
During the renaissance, flower girls would carry strands of garlic, which was believed to keep evil spirits at bay. In medieval times, it was thought that evil spirits would be lurking to steal the bride away. In fact, that’s also where the tradition of the bridesmaid comes from. Between the flower girl warding off spirits with garlic, and the bridesmaids confusing them, the bride could be safely given to her groom.
Brides who would like to invoke the good luck tradition of the renaissance flower girl can have her carry small braids of garlic with fresh flowers woven through. If you don’t like the idea of your flower girl smelling like garlic, you can incorporate twisty garlic scapes into the greenery of an arrangement for added structure and texture.
Eventually, the tradition began to evolve into something more closely resembling today’s flower girls. During the Elizabethan era, a path from the bride’s home to the site of the ceremony would be laid with flower petals. The flower girl would first walk the path, sprinkling petals from a bride’s cup filled with flowers and rosemary leaves. The bride would then follow this petal-strewn path to the church. An antique bride’s cup would make an interesting substitute for a vintage take on a modern day wedding. Alternatively, rosemary sprigs can be incorporated into a small arrangement for a colorful, textural, and sweet smelling bouquet.
Finally, the flower girl became the tradition we all know and love to this day. Victorian Era flower girls would walk down the aisle, dressed in white with a colorful silk sash, scattering petals along the way. The flower girl would carry petals in a decorated basket or on a floral hoop.
The floral hoop was handmade and symbolized the never-ending love of the bride and groom, just like the symbolism of the ring. Bride’s who would like to echo the Victorian Era tradition can make a delicate flower hoop for their flower girl to carry or wear on her head. For a carried hoop, choose larger blooms and cascading greens, like lilies and maidenhair ferns, that will create texture and vibrant colors. For a smaller head wreath, use daintier flowers or a vine, like star shaped cypress vine or miniature roses.
As tradition continued to evolve, royalty in Western Europe popularized incorporating children into the wedding ceremony. Oftentimes, the majority of the wedding party would be comprised of children! Today, we still see two or more flower girls in royal and high-society European weddings. While older tradition held that the flower girl was in early adolescence, this European influence is why it is not uncommon to see flower girls as young as 3 years old.
No matter what age your flower girl, and no matter whether or not you choose to incorporate old traditions, you can be sure the flower girl will still be a cherished part of the ceremony. Aside from lining the aisles with beautiful flowers, the flower girl herself represents the link between childhood and adulthood. She represents the bride changing from child to adult, and being given away by her family to start her adult life and have children of her own. Most of all, she embodies the innocence and purity of childhood, and reminds us to appreciate the beauty in life – to stop and smell the roses.
Photographer bykst offered the photograph of Garlic under a Creative Commons License on Pixabay
Photographer gpalmisanoadm offered the photograph of Flower Girl under a Creative Commons License on Pixabay
Photographer amyannbrockmeyer offered the photograph of Flower Girl under a Creative Commons License on Pixabay
Photographer camilleherbalist offered the photograph of Flower Petals under a Creative Commons License on Pixabay