If there's one person with the power to upstage the bride at her own wedding, it's the flower girl. Diminutive and decked out in an adorable dress, the she's a total scene-stealer, whether things go according to plan or not. If you’re gearing up to rock your own bridal runway look, you've got to make sure you've got a solid plan to get your flower girl down the aisle without a hitch, and avoid her freaking out and freezing right before your big moment.
Typically, the flower girl and the ring bearer are the youngest members of the bridal party, walking out right before the bride. And when these precious people toddle down the aisle, it’s truly the ultimate photo op. But it’s also ripe for disaster, since you never really know how a kid or toddler is going to handle an audience, the cameras flashing, and all that attention and energy focused on them. “It can be a real challenge to get the flower girl to walk,” says Eileen Smith, a wedding and events planner based in Connecticut. “When they’re under the age of 4, it’s more difficult, since they don’t know what’s going on.”
To avoid your girl from throwing a major tantrum, sobbing, and just generally refusing to walk, adopt these hacks for getting her all the way up the aisle.
1. Pair Her Up
If you’re fearful that your flower girl might falter when her big moment arrives, give her someone else to walk with right from the start. You can have an additional flower girl, or buddy her up with the ring bearer. By being with someone, “she won’t feel all alone,” points out Smith.
2. Have A Rehearsal
Everyone needs some time to get their roles right for the big day, and little ones are no exception. Doing a dry run can go a long way in ensuring that your flower girl doesn’t get stage fright on your big day. That’s why Smith strongly recommends having a rehearsal the day before your wedding. “That way, the children involved in the bridal party know what’s going on and what is expected of them,” says Smith.
3. Give Her Something To Hold
There’s a reason why the flower girl is called that. Traditionally, the role of the flower girl was to toss petals, so in the case of a reluctant walker, it might be good to assign her a task “It’s important to give your flower girl a job so that she doesn’t feel overwhelmed,” says Smith. In this case, dropping petals can take her attention off of the people oohing and aahing over her. It serves as a good distraction — and makes your aisle pretty. But if she doesn’t want to part with her petals, you can always give her a basket or bouquet to hold, suggested The Knot.
4. Position People To Help Her
You want your day to go off without a hitch. Which is why your flower girl might need to hitch a ride from another relative at some point... midway down the aisle. You can position friends and family at various points to ensure that if your flower girl refuses to continue walking, they can help her the rest of the way, or simply let her sit in their lap if she's totally done.
5. Let Her Walk Toward Someone She Loves
If you’re worried that your flower girl might cry coming down the aisle, you can plan ahead by having a parent waiting for her. “When I’ve planned weddings with young flower girls, I’ll make sure that there’s a parent at the front of the aisle to coax them down,” explains Smith. Knowing that Mommy or Daddy is waiting for her can help relax her, and also give her the motivation as she marches.
6. Time It Right
You might not always have control over when you start your wedding. More often than not, your start time will be dictated by the venue you choose. That said, you can control who’s in your bridal party — and who isn’t. If you know that you’re scheduled to walk down the aisle at 2 p.m. sharp (but your flower girl usually naps during that time), you might want to choose another flower girl who may be able to better handle the pomp and circumstance of the wedding and at least doesn't have an important conflict: an appointment with her REM cycle.
7. Lose The Lineup
Sure, the flower girl should walk right before you, but that doesn’t mean that she (or you) have to stick to that script. If you see that your flower girl is getting fussy behind the scenes, change the procession so that she walks sooner rather than later, advised Brides. That way, she gets to walk down the aisle without having to wait — and you don’t have to worry about picking her up and carrying her down the rest of the way.
8. Offer An Incentive
Yes, it might not be the most ideal option, but you shouldn’t be above bribery, especially when it comes to your big day. You can have someone at the front of the aisle with the child’s favorite toy to encourage her to come on down. Or you might entice her to walk by showing her a brand new doll or toy that she’s wanted. Whether you call it a bribe is up to you, but Smith sees it differently. “Offering a reward once she’s down the aisle is simply a thank you for a job well done,” says Smith.
I was fortunate. At my wedding, I had not one but two flower girls. My little cousins were too cute to choose from, so we opted to have both girls walk down the aisle together. In hindsight, it turned out to be a smart choice, since one sort of froze when she saw all the lights, camera, and action and the other was able to take the lead. They each had a basket, but if 20 petals hit the entire length of the aisle, we were lucky. We were able to get cute pictures of them, and almost 20 years later, they both tell me what a great time they had being included. I guess that's what ultimately matters.