Months before their wedding at the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia, Rachel Silver and Garrett Barten of Miami Beach had planned out exactly how their ring bearer would be styled.
“We had decided early on that my husband was going to wear a white dinner jacket to the wedding, and I thought it would be really cute if they matched,” said Ms. Silver, 32, an elementary school art teacher.
At the 200-person black-tie affair, on May 26, 2013, the couple’s nephew, Ethan Katz, then 3 years old, wore an ivory dinner jacket ($72.95), an ivory tuxedo shirt ($21.95) and a black herringbone bow tie ($9.95) from LittleTuxedos, all gifted by the bride. His tuxedo dress pants ($8.49) from eBay and Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Easy Slip-on shoes from Zappos ($33) were paid for by his mother. The total expenditure: $146.34, not including shipping.
Although most of Ethan’s ensemble was easy to obtain, the search for a jacket was challenging. “When my husband wore the white dinner jacket, guys weren’t doing that yet,” Ms. Silver said. “It was impossible to find a youth one.”
Another attire obstacle occurred when the flower girl’s dress alteration went awry. Ethan’s sister, Hayden Katz, then 5, was supposed to wear an off-white, satin A-line dress with thin straps, mimicking the bride.
“We wanted something similar to my dress for hers,” Ms. Silver said. “The flower girl and the ring bearer were going to be walking down the aisle, and all eyes were going to be on them. To have them potentially not fit the aesthetics of the wedding gave me anxiety.”
Instead, the flower girl ended up wearing a US Angels slate-colored empire dress with a beaded skirt ($37.87), matching the bridesmaids. Hayden’s second dress, Kenneth Cole sandals ($48.95) and pearl necklace ($35) were purchased days before the wedding on Amazon, by her mother. The total: $121.82, not including shipping.
Most couples desire a cohesive look among the members of their bridal parties. Many brides, like Ms. Silver, attempt coordinating outfits with their flower girls. As a result, brands are capitalizing on flower girl dresses inspired by bridal gowns.
“We were getting requests for matching flower girl dresses, and a lot of our brides don’t have a ton of options to getting that cute matchy-matchy look,” said Hayley Paige, the head designer and creative director of Hayley Paige, a wedding dress brand.
In response, Ms. Paige’s Manhattan-based company, with a flagship store in Los Angeles, started La Petite by Hayley Paige in October 2017. “We plucked out certain best sellers and iconic pieces from the Hayley Paige collection, and essentially created mini-mes,” she said.
The collection, available in 100 stores worldwide, has the same fabrication and appliqué detailing as bridal gowns, but in girls’ sizes, with a lower price point. Flower girl dresses cost $200 to $300, instead of $3,000 to $7,500, which is the price of a bridal gown by the same designer.
Similar to brides and grooms, flower girls and ring bearers should be fitted for their formal wear. But, because children are growing, measurements require less lead time before the wedding.
“I do have some customers who will purchase their dress 10 months before their event date, and then I’ll require them to send updated measurements at least six weeks prior to their requested delivery date,” said Amanda Folz, the owner and head designer of Alora Safari, a custom and couture dress brand based in Georgetown, Ky. Alora Safari garments require six to eight weeks to create and are shipped at least one week before the event.
Ms. Folz, who started her business in 2013, sells 300 dresses annually, a third of which are custom made. Garments cost $300 to $2,250, with many customers ordering from California, New York, and Texas. About 75 percent of her designs are bought for weddings.
The average Alora Safari dress costs $385. Often, when there’s more than one petal tosser walking down the aisle, identical dresses are purchased.
“An interesting trend is three or more flower girls, which was surprising to me,” Ms. Folz said. “A lot of bridal parties will order dresses for multiple flower girls. The most I’ve done is seven girls in one wedding.”
With seven children’s dresses (or even one), who handles the bill?
“If a couple is being really specific about style, and brand, and price point, they need to consider the possibility that it won’t be a fit for everyone. They should offer to help or take care of purchasing those items,” said Lindsay Landman, the president and creative director of Lindsay Landman Events, which plans six to 10 weddings each year, mostly in New York.
During her 17-year career, Ms. Landman, who is based in Manhattan, has dealt with flower girl and ring bearer attire-related chaos, including boys’ perpetually untucked shirts, flower crowns that are too heavy for little girls’ heads, and children refusing to walk down the aisle because their garments are uncomfortable. But it’s not always the children who cause conflict.
At a 2014 wedding at Capitale, an events space in Lower Manhattan, a bride compromised for her flower girl — or rather, the flower girl’s mother.
“We had a situation where the bride had suggested a dress that was sort of like a spaghetti strap: a really thin strap, low in the front, low in the back, appropriate for a child, but still, for a child, uncovered,” Ms. Landman said. The mom was not having it. She wanted her to wear a less-mature style.”
After “months of drama,” she said, the women agreed the flower girl would wear a little shrug jacket over the dress.
“Kids have so many options now,” Ms. Landman said, adding that children should feel happy and be in sync with the theme. “I think it’s really cute to have a ring bearer in a tux, but it doesn’t always make sense for the overall aesthetic of the wedding.”
To match a variety of wedding styles, Maisonette, a curated online children’s marketplace, sells a range of gifts, accessories and clothing, including designer suits and dresses (some retailing for more than $1,000).
While quality remains important, appearing picture-perfect is now a priority. “People are really focused on the flower girl moment as part of the wedding, and capturing these moments, and having them live on,” said Luisana Mendoza de Roccia, a founder and chief operating officer of Maisonette.
Even if little ones aren’t old enough to access Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat, it’s likely they will make an appearance on these platforms anyway. Fittingly, moms and dads, and brides and grooms, are guiding style decisions for offspring.
“There’s a broader system of behavior based on social media culture, where there are many opportunities to share what you’re wearing and what your kids are wearing,” said Sylvana Ward-Durrett, a founder and chief executive of Maisonette. “Everyone is sort of their own brand. Their family is their own brand.”
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