Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Strewing Flowers and the Flower Girls

Since almost the beginning of weddings, brides have been walking on more than air on their way to the altar. Strewing the bridal path with grains, herbs, flowers or even straw rushes (hay) was an important tradition thought to help bring fertility and prosperity to the married couple. In addition to this, young children were commissioned to cover the bride's path with grains on her way to the ceremony to really increase the luck and fertility aspect of the event.

Brides often added herbs such as lemon-scented balm or mint to the mix so that when they stepped on them their aroma was released to please the Gods. In Elizabethan England it became fashionable to scent the home. Lacking chemical air fresheners like Febreeze, the Elizabethans turned to nature. Each day the floors were carpeted (or strewn) with rushes. When a wedding was to occur, rose petals, herbs and such lent their aroma to the rushes and began the custom of "walking on a bed of roses" (sans thorns of course!)

Although flowers and children to toss them are a central part of a bride's planning, some brides choose not to have flower girls. Many feel that children in a wedding will distract from the main event (the bride) while others feel that having children strew flowers is a wonderful addition to their special day. You have to decide for yourself if you want flowers along your path and children to spread them or to just go down the aisle on your own.

Some simple rules of thumb are applicable if you do invite children to be in the wedding party. Remember, even though they are young, they still are an integral part of the events. Let them know from the start that they are as important as anyone else!

Although you may be tempted to consider the youngest members of your families for these positions because it would be so cute, be sure they can handle the responsibilities. Ages 4 to 10 seem to be a good guideline: any younger, it's a wild card; any older, they would be more comfortable in the role of junior attendant.

I must point out though, that I turned two the day before a wedding where I was a flower girl. I did perfectly while an older girl of six broke down halfway down the aisle letting me to strew my flowers all by myself. Age limits depend on the child and her ability to get over shyness in front of a large crowd.

As with anything, children need more practice than adults. Plenty of wedding rehearsal time will relieve any anxiety on the part of the child (and yours, too) and answer any and all questions concerning their roles.

If you do decide to include children in the wedding party, you must remember that even with the best behaved, most reliable child, things can go wrong. Keep your sense of humor and use it to make the day go with laughter.

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