Flower girls have the enviable task of paving the way for the bride by throwing flower petals along the aisle. Any girl three to ten years old can be a flower girl at a wedding but are usually relatives of the bride and groom. And having more than one is ideal, so you don’t appear to play favorites.
Some couples-to-be opt to forego flower girls altogether, but it’s important to know the symbolism behind them. The tradition goes back to Ancient Rome, where having children was a concern. The flower girls at the time didn’t even toss flowers but wheat and herbs instead, which to the Romans symbolized fertility and prosperity. As to why flowers supplanted them, it’s still a mystery.
Beautiful Flower Girl Bouquet [photo: Hannah Rodrigo]
By the Elizabethan era, the flower girl attained the interpretation of being the bride as a child. Her walking down the aisle ahead of the bride signifies her waning innocence as she turns into an adult. It also represents the bride assuming responsibility as a wife and mother in the future.
Deciding on a traditional wedding requires the right choice of flowers and floral arrangements. As churches and wedding venues may prohibit tossing petals all over the place, a flower girl bouquet is a great alternative. Here are a handful of bouquet ideas.
1. Baby’s Breath
You can have these delicate flowers made into garlands of any form for flower girls to carry instead of a basket of petals. They grow on gypsum-rich soil (hence their genus Gypsophilia) and blossom like, as some people notice, a newborn’s breath.
While mainly used for bouquets for mothers who gave birth, Baby’s Breath can be a good addition to a wedding bouquet. They represent love and purity, two things that should be in abundance in a lasting marriage. They also come in a wide array of colors to convey other emotions, though florists can dye them upon request.
Flower Girl holding Baby's Breath Bouquet [photo: Oliver Li]
Roses may be the universal floral symbol of love, but they don’t come cheap. Carnations are a less expensive alternative, looking like roses but are of a different species. Both flowers even represent love and purity, depending on the color.
The carnation has a rich story behind it. Legend has it that the Virgin Mary grew carnations out of her tears while seeing Jesus carry the cross, giving the flower the interpretation of motherly love. In fact, in Leonardo Da Vinci’s 15th-century painting, Madonna of the Carnation, she can be seen handing baby Jesus a red carnation. Aside from bouquets, carnations also make ideal centerpieces for a Bohemian-style wedding. For instance, flower girls can wear floral crowns and sashes studded with carnations and other flowers to go with their dresses and bouquets.
One major consideration in employing flower girls is their tender age. Being so young, they might not be able to toss petals by the handful and in a controlled way. Holding a bouquet is ideal, though you’d want the girls to do so with ease. Fortunately, florists can arrange most flowers into small, one-hand bouquets called posies.
Among these suitable flowers is the peony, a classic symbol of a healthy marriage ahead. It got its imagery from the legend of Paeon, who treated Hades’s wounds using a peony root. But rather than admiring him, Aesculapius—the god of medicine and Paeon’s teacher—attempted to kill him out of jealousy. To save his life, Hades turned Paeon into a flower worth admiration.
Peonies enjoy the benefit of appearing voluminous with just a stem or two. If you decide to forego a traditional bouquet, be it for the bride or the flower girls, a few peonies can save you a great deal.
Adorable Flower Girl In a Tulle Dress [photo: Oliver Li]
Hydrangeas are another suitable flower for posies. A single stem has so many blossoms that it can pass for a small bouquet in itself. While not as heavily themed to weddings as the other flowers on this list, hydrangeas can tell how the happy couple endured hardships in their relationship.
The hydrangea’s imagery stems from a Japanese legend, where an emperor gifted blue hydrangeas to a girl he loved as an apology for neglecting her. Word of his deed spread throughout the country, giving the flowers the additional meaning of unity. Hydrangeas can portray the fact that the couple had treaded a rocky road leading to their special day. If you choose this flower, be ready to take extra good care of it. Hydrangeas (or hortensias) can be hardy in warmer climates but requires a lot of water.
Petal throwing is quickly falling out of fashion for practical reasons; no one likes to clean up petals after the rites. Consider having your flower girls go down the aisle holding bouquets for a change. It’s just as eye-catching as it’s meaningful.