The origins of ring bearers and flower girls are, at best, hard to pin down.
Some date the tradition of ring bearers back to ancient Egypt. Back then, jewels were often carried on ornamental pillows during various celebrations including weddings. In medieval times, rings were often presented to the bride and groom on the tips of swords. (I can see Bec from Sane Weddings taking notes now). A page boy would carry the bride’s train and a prayer book during these times, and it is thought that wealthier families replaced the swords with pillows (a rarity in that day) to display their wealth, and thus transferred this duty to the page boy (and taking a page from those Egyptians, maybe?). By the time the Victorian era rolled around, ring bearers decked out in velvet jackets, knickerbockers, and big collars were a part of the traditional wedding. Today - all bets are off. Ring bearers are found in everything from adorable little suits to full out costumes - like the adorable Mario and Luigi below.
Still others believe that the presence of ring bearers and flower girls is simply down to superstitions around fertility. That’s right - the kids that you parade down the aisle are supposed to represent your future children. The flowers thrown by the flower girl are another piece of this, as flowers are said to represent your fertility. In ancient Rome, it was actually wheat and other herbs that were tossed on the aisle for the bride - but the reason was the same: fertility. Today - most flower girls wear a pretty dress that is either white or compliments the colors of the wedding party. Typically, they carry flowers or baskets with petals or other things to toss. But really, the only limit is your imagination.
So what are some other theories for the origins of these wedding party kiddos? The pillow that the rings are carried on is said to symbolize your dreams coming true (because dreams are had while laying on pillows, right?). And the fact that it is carried by a child is supposed symbolize innocence and new beginnings. And some flower girls used to carry floral hoops as a physical representation that true love would never end.
In present day, you’re almost as likely to see a ring bearer or flower girl with four legs as you are to see actual kids. There have also been stories of adorable grandmas and other friends of the wedding couple capturing the hearts of all in attendance as a less-than-obvious choice to hold the honor. Then again, it’s hard to pass up the opportunity to have a couple adorable kiddos to momentarily steal the show.
So why do we tell you all this? Well - for some, knowing the traditions and why we do something is important. Incorporating the old ways of doing things can also be cool - in fact, I’d love to see some flower girls carrying hoops of flowers down the aisle. I think that’d be super sweet. However, it also frees you up to not take things as seriously if you feel like the traditions are based on things you don’t want to focus on (ahem, I’m looking at you fertility....). With that in mind, some couples may choose to omit the tradition altogether. Or, they may simply give the job to their fur baby and call it a day.
Melissa is the owner and lead photographer for Melissa Miksch Photography. What started out as a hobby in high school has turned into her passion, and she loves being a part of weddings and making such important memories for her clients! She's a big fan of chocolate, the Pacific ocean, her daughter's hugs, and anything sparkly.