It's probably best to keep your daughter out of her dress until she has eaten, gone to the bathroom, washed her hands, and finished any other potentially messy tasks. Explain her duties again, and have her show you how she plans to hold her flowers, basket, or pomander. She'll definitely feel included once she's around other dressed-up members of the bridal party, so make sure she has pre-ceremony face time with the bride and her ladies. Try to keep her occupied until right before the ceremony starts. It's not the bride's or attendants' job to watch her until it's time to go. If you can't be with her, designate someone to hold on to an "emergency kit" full of (non-messy) snacks, water or light-colored juice, and a favorite coloring book.
Flower girls don't necessarily toss petals; instead, she might hold a pomander (a ball of flowers suspended from a ribbon for her to clutch), a basket of flowers, or a mini-bouquet that matches the bride's. Scattering a perfect blanket of petals is tricky, so if that's what the bride wants, someone should spread them before the ceremony. Then the flower girl can just sprinkle a few more petals on top. If the petals won't be spread beforehand, you may need to give your daughter a few petal-tossing pointers. Try a few practice steps while you explain how many petals to toss; otherwise, you could end up with a trail of single petals or a burst of petals at the beginning with none left over for the rest of the aisle. Have your daughter grasp three or four petals at a time (like gently picking up a handful of cotton balls) and drop them with each step. Also, make sure the basket isn't too heavy for your daughter to carry, especially if she's young!
Depending on whether your daughter loves to be in the limelight, it may or may not be hard for her to patiently endure a drawn-out photo session. You can stay with her while the photographer's snapping away, unless she's comfortable with the bridal party and old enough to handle it on her own. Explain the photo process to her before the weddings so she knows what to expect, and encourage her to show her prettiest smile (not the forced version that might appear after too many camera snaps), even if she's tired. Tell her you can't wait to see how beautiful the pictures will look after it's all over!
If she's younger than four (or very shy), walking down the aisle is probably the most worrisome part of the day for your little flower girl. Try to sit in the front of the audience next to the aisle; that way she'll be able to see you in case you need to (discreetly) coax her down the aisle. If you're in the wedding party, designate someone else to be your daughter's front-row helper, and make sure your daughter knows to look for that person if she gets nervous. Try bringing your daughter's favorite stuffed animal and keeping it with you up front where she can see it. If you worry that she might not make it all the way down the aisle, suggest that she walk before the maid of honor instead of before the bride. That way, if your daughter stalls or gets nervous, the maid of honor can guide her down the aisle. If your daughter is older, she probably won't have a problem making it to the front of the ceremony, but make sure you practice her pace. All the excitement might cause her to rush -- don't forget the "peanut butter" practice session.
Even the shortest ceremony will seem long to a young flower girl. If you think she might be fidgety, suggest that she sit with you after her walk down the aisle. Don't get caught up in making sure she acts perfectly; brides, grooms, and guests love the sweet innocence of child attendants. If, at any point, she throws a tantrum and you can't calm her down, it's better to get up and leave her than to have guests watching you try to control her. As soon as the ceremony is finished, quietly congratulate your daughter on a job well done!
Your daughter will probably be seated with your for the reception, not with the rest of the bridal party. Guests love to fuss over flower girls, but if she looks uncomfortable, feel free to step in and say, "We're happy that you think she did such a great job; she's had a busy and exciting day." They'll probably take the hint.
After It's All Over
Talk about the big day with your flower girl, and make sure she has some photos so she can look back on the experience as she grows older. A special day like this will hopefully become a very clear childhood memory for her, one that she'll enjoy for years to come.
Excerpt from Fiona the Flower Girl
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Your Bridal Party