Unlike many other roles and rituals which are still surrounded with debate, the roots of the role of the flower girl are made clear. In the era of the ancient Greeks and Romans flower girls were called upon in attendance during nuptials to symbolize the passage of the child into a blossoming and “blooming” woman, wife and mother.
Strewing petals on the altar pathways first began with scattering selected herbs and spices to signify fertility during the event. She is the classical symbol of innocence, which was carried on, even in the medieval age by offering of sheaths of wheat in the bridal procession.
Centuries rolled on and in the Elizabethan age, a number of flower girls were still involved in the bridal train and were followed by a troop of merry musicians. A special flower girl would also carry a silver cup meant for the bride and was decorated with bright ribbons alongside another carrying gold adorned rosemary branches. In addition to this, the entire path from the bride’s home all the way to the Church was always covered in rose petals and many small bouquets were brought into the event to be presented as take home gifts to the guests.
For many generations in this golden age only female attendants were allowed in the bridal chamber to prepare the bride for the wedding. It is a tedious process that until now would last for days. This in special practice by royalty and in some European countries it is still common to see more than one flower girl and some even only include children below a certain age to join the procession.
The floral hoop which is sometimes worn or the head as an adornment or is simply carried, is derived from the wedding ring which is the sign of eternal love. Daintily adorned baskets carried rose petals carried by these little girls in bright satin sashes also became the norm. A lot of modern wedding traditions were credited to the lavish royal wedding of Queen Victoria in 1840. Besides the miniature bridal gown for the flower girls, the use of white on the bridal gown and on the wedding cake as well became fashionable because of her. All of these played an impact upon the romantization of the wedding rites as we practice them to this day.
Looking back, historians noted that it an ancient practice for the groomsmen and bridesmaids to dress like the betrothed couples in order to confuse would be assassins or spell casters. But in these modern times we have kept this tradition for purely sentimental reasons. It is still quite acceptable and amusing to see the ring bearer and the flower girl to mimic the dress of the bride and groom.
The choice of flower girls in today’s society now comes with a lot of practicality. Ideally she should be between the ages of 4 and 8 which should be age wherein little girls can carry out the strewing of rose petals to lead the bridal procession. But there are no strict rules to this as even older girls, women and in some humorous cases even men are called upon for this role if they are held dear by the happy couple.
There is also no rule about having many flower girls, its just that selecting girls too young for the task might leave them running scared when the entrance hymn starts and might cause her to cry and dump her basket of petals – but is anyway taken as fresh delight to all who attend.