History of Flower Girls
As far back as the Roman Empire, Flower Girls have been an essential part of the bridal party, accompanying the bride on her way to the altar. The Romans had a young virgin carry a sheath of wheat during the wedding ceremony to bring prosperity to the bride and groom. Special herbs were scattered about to bring fertility to the newlywed couple.
Since brides were very young in those days, the flower girls were always younger relations of the bride. They could be her sister, her cousin, or any extended family member. This showed the importance of family ties, and was a way to honor the bride and groom.
As time went on, the customs changed with the local culture. Superstition was rampant during the Renaissance leading to the introduction of garlic to the ceremony. The strands of garlic were thought to keep away evil spirits and bad luck.
In the middle ages, many people were poor and did not practice good hygiene. Many people only bathed once a year, and the use of floral sachets to cover body odor was routine. During a special occasion like a wedding, the young girls would spread the fragrant petals of roses, lilac and other strongly scented flowers on the ground. As the petals were crushed by people walking upon them, they would release their powerful aroma, leaving behind a pleasant scent that was far more preferable to the natural odors of the guests and participants.
The Victorian era ushered in many changes that you will still see today. With an emphasis on romance, the Victorians began dressing the flower girls in gowns to match the bride. The use of garlands of flowers encircling their hair became fashionable during this time, as well as the use more ornamental flowers throughout the ceremony. Satin sashes and sweet romantic touches adorned the flower girl, who in turn brought good luck and joy to the bride and groom. This tradition remains today.
Most cultures have incorporated the use of flower girls in one way or another. Many traditions call for the flower girl to wear a white dress as a beacon of purity and innocence. Some cultures prefer brighter, more robust prints as a sign of growth and bright, new beginnings. The one common factor is they all carry or wear flowers. In the western culture, we have become accustomed to the ritual of tossing flower petals on the path of the bride. Elsewhere, the flower girl may wear a ring of flowers in her hair or as a garland around her neck.
In some African cultures the flower girls carry, and play, instruments that are used for the wedding march. In India, the flower girl will receive intricate henna tattoos just as her older counterparts receive. In some Asian cultures, red is the color of the day, and is shared by the flower girl and the bride. In some areas, elaborate face paint is employed to make the flower girl stand apart.
In all corners of the planet, we just love to see little girls adorned as flower girls. This age-old tradition will never go out of style.