The History Of The Flower Girl
We all love the cute dresses, angelic faces, and heart-melting walk down the aisle. But where did the concept of the flower girl actually come from?
The traditional wedding as we know it today – think white dress, church procession and wedding breakfast – is a concept largely popularised by Queen Victoria’s wedding to Prince Albert in 1840. She had a whopping 12 bridesmaids! But flower girls have been around for much longer than Victorian times, dating all the way back to the Roman Empire. Although they may have looked a little different back then to how they look now, the meaning and duties of the flower girl have remained largely unchanged throughout the passing ages.
Centuries ago, couples often married for political reasons rather than love. The flower girl was a symbol of youth and fertility and a sort of good luck charm for the bride and groom to bear their own children. From holding sheaves of wheat and scattering herbs in the Roman Empire to cloves of garlic in the Elizabethan era, and the flower petals we are more familiar with today, the flower girl has always been a representation of the beauty and joy of youth and fertility and a beacon of whimsy.
In the Roman Empire, upper-class weddings often included young girls in the wedding procession who walked ahead of the bride, carrying sheaves of wheat and scattering the path of the bride with grains and herbs. It was believed that this would bring prosperity to the bride and groom and represented the collective hope that the couple could also procreate.
It was during the Elizabethan era, that the tradition of scattering flower petals came into practice. Flower girls followed musicians in the wedding procession from the brides home to the church, carrying a gilded rosemary branch and a silver cup adorned with ribbons. The cup was usually filled with flower petals or rosemary leaves, as an alternative to a basket. Other alternatives included a small bunch of rosemary sprigs used as a sweet posy or a small floral bouquet, incorporating sprigs of fresh rosemary. The cup, known as the bride’s cup, and the petals inside, were considered a symbol of fertility and thought to give the couple good luck. During this time, cloves of garlic were often also scattered to ward off evil spirits and keep the couple in good health!
The Victorian flower girl most resembles the one we are familiar with today. Victorian-era flower girls were traditionally dressed in white, with a coloured silk or cotton sash at her waist. Their dresses were intentionally simple, usually made of a lightweight silk or muslin, and the flower girl would carry an ornate basket filled with fresh blooms and flowers in her hair. It was also popular for flower girls to carry a floral hoop at this time, the circular shape symbolic of the infinite state of true love.
In weddings today, flower girls can be seen in a wide array of dresses. From traditional white styles with a pretty silk ribbon, to colourful dresses adorned with crystals, the role of the flower girl may not be as symbolic as her former years, but I think we can all argue that the angelic faces and petal throwing duties will be a wonderful element of weddings for centuries to come!
A Royal to do!
With the upcoming wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on everyone’s minds, we look at some of our favourite flower girl and bridesmaid dresses of Royal Weddings from around the world.
Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III, 1956
Designed by Neiman Marcus’ young designer Joseph Hong, Grace Kelly chose pale yellow organza dresses for her four flower girls in her wedding to Prince Rainier III. The dresses were embroidered with sprigs of daisies to match the girls’ hair flowers and bouquets, and featured delicate collars, puff sleeves and satin sashes. We love the traditional shape of these dresses, and the detail from the embroidery is so sweet for a summer wedding!
Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones, 1960
After several turns as a bridesmaid herself, Princess Margaret finally had her own big day in 1960, in her wedding to photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones. Eight flower girls were by her side on the big day, including her niece Princess Anne. The flower girls wore white organza gowns with pale blue ribbon details and lace frills. We love the pop of blue from the ribbon on these dresses, and full length ballgown style skirts. Definitely a dress to feel like a princess in!
Prince Albert and Princess Charlene, 2011
Princess Charlene married Prince Albert of Monaco in 2011, in a summer wedding full of splendour. Instead of sticking to the traditional bridal party composed of friends and family, the couple chose seven young girls from Monaco and southern France to serve as flower girls, who wore traditional red-and-white Monegasque outfits for the occasion. Director of the Ballets de Monte-Carlo, Jean-Christophe Maillot designed the dresses, that included plenty of personal touches. Silk stockings embroidered with the couple’s monogram, and aprons that feature the name of the area of Monaco that each girl is from were part of the ensembles that took more than 120 hours to create each! We love the story behind these dresses, and their traditional roots, and just imagine being one of the lucky 7 girls!
Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling, 2010
Next in line to the throne of Sweden, Princess Victoria chose Pär Engsheden to design her wedding dress, and the dresses worn by her seven flower girls and bridesmaids. The dresses were sophisticated yet still so adorable! Made from pearl white silk organza with roll collars and matching ballet slippers, the dresses carried through with Victoria’s dress, but were also reminiscent of her mother Queen Silvia’s own dress for her wedding day. A thoughtful memento, especially since June 19 was the King and Queen’s wedding anniversary too!
Princess Caroline of Monaco and Phillipe Juno, 1978
Princess Caroline married on a hot summers day in Monaco wearing a dress designed by Marc Bohan at Christian Dior. The bridal party resemble the effortless boho style synonymous with the 1970s, with soft lightweight fabrics and sun kissed skin. Princess Caroline’s two flower girls wore white cotton gowns embroidered with blue and yellow flowers, with Peter Pan collars and a blue sash at the waist. We love the effotless style of these dresses, and how comfortable the girls look! We’re sure they twirled the night away in these pretty gowns.
Sofia Hellqvist and Prince Carl Philip, 2014
Another Swedish wedding makes our list! Designed by Ida Sjöstedt, Sofia’s three flower girls and one bridesmaid wore white knee length organza dresses with a lace detail on the hem and sleeves. We love the relaxed style of these dresses, and the carry over of lace from flower girl to bridesmaid to bride.
Marie-Chantal Miller and Prince Pavlos, 1995
Marie-Chantal Miller’s flower girls all wore Valentino Couture gowns for her wedding to Prince Pavlos in July 1995. Her three flower girls wore pale blue organza gowns which featured gathering at the bodice and a pin tucked waistband. The dresses also had beautifully embroidered sleeves with 3D ivory floral motifs and pearls to match the bead work on the bride’s bodice. We love the colour of these dresses, and the detail on the sleeves. The touch of the white gloves make for a very sweet look!
Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano and Prince Felipe, 2004
The dresses worn by the flower girls of Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano’s wedding, designed by Spanish designer Lorenzo Caprile, were inspired by 18th-century Spanish paintings, particularly those of Francisco Goya. The flower girls wore a bodice decorated with appliqués of lace and ribbons, with a round collar and French sleeves, and a basquiña, a skirt worn in Spain from the 16th to the 19th century, with a typical Spanish yellow sash tied at the waist. Again, we love the traditional routes of these dresses, and the story behind them!
Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew, 1986
Sarah Ferguson’s eight flower girls wore peach satin and lace dresses designed by Lindka Cierach, with blossoms in their hair for her wedding to Prince Andrew of England in 1986. The knee length dresses were suitably over the top, with lace detailing around the hem of the dress, a giant bow and beading on the bodice. We love the shape that has been created with the lace on the bodice, going up from the waist to create pretty and delicate sleeves. The page boys also deserve a special mention in their traditional sailor suits and hats, particularly a young prince William photographed here!
Kate Middleton and Prince William, 2015
Our list wouldn’t be complete without Kate Middleton’s flower girl dresses from her wedding to Prince William in 2011. The dresses, designed by Nicki Macfarlane, were made from silk satin gazar, organza and wild silk and were trimmed with delicate English Cluny lace.The design featured a full bow pleated skirt, puff sleeves and a gold sash tied in a bow. Each of the four girls had their name and the date of the wedding hand-embroidered onto the lining of their dresses.
Happy New Year!
As we bid farewell to 2017 and start off the New Year promising to stick to our unrealistic resolutions (will exercise 3 times a week and not eat carbs) we look forward to 2018, a year already full of excitement. A Royal wedding, the Met Gala, and the launch of Monday’s Child!
I started this company because I felt there was a major gap in the market for affordable luxury occasion wear for children that wasn’t just a high street shop with the same generic styles we see everywhere. The high street has a lot to offer, but there is something wonderful in knowing you have bought something that’s been lovingly handmade to order using the finest materials all right here in London.
As a child I always wanted to feel like prettiest princess in the room, and now I hope that I can make little ones all over the world feel that way about themselves in one of my dresses.
The idea came to me when I was working in the bridal market. I would constantly listen to brides tell me that they were struggling with their bridesmaids and flower girl dresses. “Too expensive but they look cheap”, “Everyone has the same ones”, “I want to be different”, “All I can find is white tulle” etc etc.
With that in mind, I went home and started a Pinterest board and sketched out some ideas of dresses that I thought would bring a fresh approach to the market, but still offer a product that had traditional and nostalgic roots. Below are some of my original sketches from that very first night. I carried two of these sketches through to final styles for this first collection (see if you can guess which ones) and still have plenty of ideas sketched out for future collections to come!
Before I started Monday’s Child, I was working at Oscar de la Renta in New York as an embroidery designer, and this is where I really honed in on my design skills and aesthetic. I’ve always been feminine in my design approach, I can’t help but love pretty dresses and embellishment, and designing children’s wear has always had a huge appeal to me. I suppose that’s why it was so easy for me to naturally progress into starting my own children’s wear company.
I’m also very lucky to live across the street from my niece and chief fit model! I spent about 2 weeks going over there every day with a new dress toile in hand for her to try on – some dresses were better received than others. But it meant that what would normally be a costly and timely venture was completely free and no hassle! I was able to perfect my patterns and get a fit that I could then scale for ages 2 to 8.
Below are some of the pictures from these initial fittings. Trying to get a 3 year old to stand still is easier said than done, but the process was so exciting and really spurred me on to get my samples made as quickly as possible to see the final result!
I hope you all love these dresses as much as I do, each one of them has been designed by me with the highest attention to detail and fit and will make your little one look and feel like the princess they truly are. These dresses are designed to be unique for whatever festivity they are worn, and by offering a made to order service I’m able to create bespoke colourways for any occasion and tailor the dresses to suit you.
I’m full of excitement and anticipation of what 2018 will bring for Monday’s Child, and I hope that little ones all over the world will be twisting and twirling in these beautiful dresses. Let’s hope that 2018 is a year full of magic and wonder for us all.