After officiating weddings for over 30 years, I have had some wonderful experiences with ring bearers and some, shall we say, more interesting experiences (rings lost and yes even swallowed). Let's take a look at the history of this role and suggestions for the ring bearer in today's wedding ceremony.
One of the most common beliefs regarding ring bearers dates back to Ancient Egypt. During that era it was common for treasured jewels to be carried on ornamental pillows during celebrations, especially wedding ceremonies. Although many historians believe that adults carried the rings on the ornamental pillows during Egyptian times, today it is more common for a young boy wearing ring bearers outfits such as boys tuxedos to perform the duties.
Other historians trace the origin of the ring bearer to Medieval times, when a young child, known as a page boy, carried the bride’s train down the aisle while holding a book of prayers. Page boys did not carry the rings, as they were presented to the couple on the tips of swords. Because pillows were rare during the era, wealthy families replaced the swords with pillows as a symbol of their riches, and the page boy was given the duty of carrying the pillow, often wearing ring bearer outfits.
The ring bearer grew in popularity during the Victorian Era, when boys suits consisted of velvet jackets, short trousers and round linen collars. Often, the ring bearer outfits included large bows of white crepe used to fasten the collar, unlike today when ring bearers wear boys tuxedos that match the other groomsmen.
Here are a few suggestions for the role for your wedding. It is best to have a young male between the ages of five and ten. Any younger and you may have trouble having them pay attention or they may get fussy. Any older and they lose the cute factor. And the last thing we need at a wedding is a surly teenager standing at the altar. This is why those ages between five and ten are the perfect range. Young enough where the audience will still think they're cute yet old enough to be able to follow direction.
As with all members of your wedding party, the ring bearer should be somebody you are close to. It could be the son of a sibling, a cousin or a friend. This way you will have a special memory and bond with this person for the rest of your life. Though you could go break from tradition and have a girl play this role. Yet make sure they stand on the proper side.
If you have a boy ring bearer then he will stand on the groom side. If you have a girl then she will stand next to the bridesmaids. This is also where we should mention it has become popular to use a dog as a ring bearer. If you go this route, make sure it's being lead on a leash. And the sex of the leash-holder will determine which side the dog can stand. Next you need to figure out how you will carry the ring.
In tradition, the ring rests on a pillow in the hands of the ring bearer. Yet it is another opportunity for creativity. For example, if the couple met playing softball then put it on a softball glove. You can also put it in a box. Or a ring dish or a ring pillow. I also saw a cute banner they could carry down the aisle. The reason why you might have them carry a banner is that you can avoid them losing the rings. But there is another way to avoid risk losing the rings. Just like with the wedding cake there are tricks you can play with the rings. A great way to stress out of your wedding is to give your rings to a five year. I barely trust myself to hold them. Put fake rings on the ring bearer pillow or box. This way if disaster strikes and the little tyke loses the rings there is no real harm done. Instead, the best man or the maid of honor can carry the real rings.
When the wedding is over make sure you reward them. Give them their own gift. I would recommend two gifts. One gift can be serious for the mom. That is the keepsake that can be commemorative. But there should be a fun gift. A toy. That way they will be immediately happy. And have something to remember for later when they are older.
The ring bearer is a popular role in every wedding. And it's a great way to allow young people who are close to you to be part of your wedding. Or if you are a pet parent it's a great way for your pets the be part of your wedding.