How Old Should a Ring Bearer Be?

In many cultures, it’s tradition to have a ring bearer carry the wedding rings down the aisle. But are there stipulations as to who can be your ring bearer and the best ring bearer age? Read more to find out.

By The Zola Team

How Old Should a Ring Bearer Be?
Photo by Love Shack Photo

The First Look ✨

  • If you want to adhere to tradition, the typical age range for a ring bearer is between four and twelve.
  • If you don’t feel the need to keep it traditional, choose creatively. Anyone can be your ring bearer. Just make it someone you love, trust, and want to be a part of your big day.
  • You can have multiple ring bearers, and animals aren’t out of the question.
  • If you want to opt out of having a ring bearer, there are many alternative options for making sure your rings get down the aisle and onto your fingers.

A charming way to add a layer of cuteness to your wedding ceremony is to have a ring bearer escort your wedding rings (often tied to a pillow) down the aisle. Who doesn’t love to see a handsome young boy strutting down the aisle wearing a tuxedo?

If you’re going to have a young ring bearer be part of your wedding, you’re probably wondering what’s the correct age for a ring bearer? Typically, ring bearers are young boys, but age doesn’t have to be the only consideration when choosing your ring bearer (or even a consideration at all).

In this guide, we’ll discuss how old your ring bearer “should” be, who to ask, how to ask, and some helpful tips and tricks for the ring bearer on the big day.

The Traditional Ring Bearer Rules

So, how old should a ring bearer be? The simplest answer to this question is… any age. It’s your wedding day and they’re your rings, so you get to decide exactly how you want them presented and who will present them to you.

But before we go any further, let’s discuss the traditional age.

Typically, the age range for a ring bearer is between four and 12. By the time a child is four, it’s a good bet that you’ll be able to send them down the aisle on their own, and they’ll make it to the other end. Twelve is about the age where the kid will still think it’s fun and exciting to be chosen as a ring bearer. Plus, at 12, they’re still young enough to look cute for all the photo ops.

If you don’t have any family or friends in the “correct” ring-bearing age range, don’t be discouraged. Nowadays, anything goes in the ring bearer arena:

  • If your sister has a brand new baby and you’re hoping to find a way for them to be a part of your ceremony, no need to hesitate. Your sister can walk the baby down the aisle with the rings thoughtfully attached to the baby’s ring bearer outfit.

  • The ring bearer doesn’t even need to be human. Yes, your dog can do it. A cat. Your pet llama. Strap a pillow on its back, and send it down the aisle (after some careful planning, of course).

  • If your 99-year-old grandpa Ted has always dreamt of being a ring bearer, maybe your wedding is his chance.

Feel free to choose whomever you think makes the most sense for your ceremony.

Does a Ring Bearer Have to Be Male?

Traditionally, ring bearers have also been male, but there are ways to keep your wedding party gender-neutral. Instead of having a flower girl and a ring bearer, you could opt to have two ring bearers of any gender or even have flower children instead of flower girls.

At the end of the day, it’s your wedding, so you can make whatever choices are needed to ensure you feel comfortable and your guests feel included.

What’s the Right Number of Ring Bearers to Have?

The term is "ring bearer", but that doesn’t mean that there can only be one. What if you have adorable six-year-old triplet cousins? We wouldn’t expect you to choose just one of them for the job. Fortunately, you don’t have to. Your wedding ceremony can include as many ring bearers as you’d like.

However, it’s a good rule of thumb to make three the cut-off. You want the ring bearer (or ring bearers) to feel like an essential and special part of the ceremony. The more of them you add to the spotlight, the less bright they might feel.

Who Should You Choose as Your Ring Bearer?

Your ring bearer is going to play a special part in your big day, so it’s important that you put a bit of thought into who you choose.

People to consider can include:

  • Younger cousins
  • Your friends’ children
  • Nieces and nephews
  • Siblings (for instance, twins, triplets, or brothers and sisters)

A bonus to asking siblings to take on the role is that the younger sibling will most likely be better behaved and less scared if they have an older sibling walking down the aisle with them.

Other factors to consider when choosing your ring bearer are:

  • Can They Handle the Task? Walking down the aisle with rings on a pillow isn’t the most complicated task that will take place on your wedding day, but think about the child or children you’re considering for the job. You want to make sure it’s something they can handle without getting distracted, running in the opposite direction, or causing a commotion.

  • Will They Be Excited to Be Chosen? Some people don’t love the spotlight. Be sure to consider your potential ring bearer’s preferences before asking them for help.

  • Will They Be Available for the Rehearsal? This shouldn’t automatically rule out your top choice, but it’s something to consider. If you’re iffy about whether your ring bearer can make it down the aisle, the rehearsal will be a good test.

If you choose to go with an animal as your ring bearer, consider a calm animal who likes people, crowds, and is well-trained. There will always be a chance that it doesn’t go off without a hitch, but by choosing a calm, well-trained animal, you have the best shot at a smooth ceremony.

How to Ask Someone to Be Your Ring Bearer

Once you’ve done the hard work of deciding who should be your ring bearer, you’ll want to figure out how to ask them. Do you keep it simple and give them a call? Or do you go above and beyond to make it a special request?

The first thing to take into consideration when making this decision is how you’re asking the rest of the wedding party to be in your wedding. If you’re sending everyone personalized boxes with their own stationery and a monogrammed towel, then it’s worth considering asking your ring bearer in a similar fashion so that they feel included in the wedding party. However, if your ring bearer is young and you’re getting all of the groomsmen a less-than-kid-friendly gift, such as a cigar case, opt for a ring bearer gift that’s more age-appropriate (such as a pencil case).

For more unique wedding party gift ideas, browse Zola’s wedding boutique to ensure you find the best options for your wedding party members.

Other Ways to Ask Someone to Be Your Ring Bearer

Take a look at a few other interesting and thoughtful ways you can ask your ring bearer to be a part of your big day:

  • Mail a handwritten note
  • Send a video of you and your fiance asking
  • Mail a gift box of a few of their favorite goodies
  • Write them a short song or poem
  • Send them a singing telegram

Of course, there’s no pressure to make a big deal out of asking. A casual phone call or an in-person conversation is just as meaningful. After all, it’s the fact that they get to be a part of your celebration that they’ll be most excited about.

Ways to Make Your Ring Bearer’s Walk Down the Aisle Unique

Having a ring bearer walk down the aisle with a big ole smile, pillow, and rings is a sweet tradition that’s stood the test of time. But if you happen to feel the urge to add a little pizazz to this classic wedding ceremony moment, here are a few options:

  • Choose an Interesting Outfit: Maybe you want your ring bearer to match the groomsmen, or maybe you want them to have a completely different look. Either way, the ring bearer’s outfit can provide the opportunity for this wedding party member to make their mark on the ceremony.

  • Add Accouterments: If you want your ring bearer to match the groomsmen, but also have a little extra flair that sets them apart from the group, a fun bowtie or tie, or different colored socks can make for an exciting addition. You can also have your ring bearer walk down the aisle with a sign that reads:

  • Your wedding’s hashtag

  • “Get ready, here comes the bride”
  • “Don’t forget your vows”

  • Walk With a Pet: Maybe you want your dog to be part of the wedding, but feel like getting them down the aisle on their own is too much of a liability. Having the ring bearer and your dog team up to walk down the aisle together could be the perfect compromise.

  • Ride Down the Aisle: Instead of having your ring bearer walk down the aisle, maybe they take a different mode of transportation, like a scooter or rollerblades. This could be especially fun if you’ve chosen a very young child as your ring bearer. You can even consider having someone push them down the aisle in a red wagon or a decorative baby carriage.

  • Utilize the Ring Bearer’s Unique Skills: If you’ve chosen a friend who juggles to be the ring bearer, ask them to juggle three little pillows as they walk down the aisle—one of which the rings are attached to.

  • Think Outside the Box: If you think your ring bearer can handle a bit more responsibility, consider having them walk down the aisle with a basket of disposable cameras. They can pass the cameras out to your guests so that everyone can snap pictures of you and your love leaving the ceremony.

How to Keep Your Ring Bearer’s Vibe in Tune With Your Wedding Theme

When you’re deciding what look you want your ring bearer to have, try to keep it in line with the overall theme of your wedding. This way, the ring bearer won’t feel like an add-on, but rather a seamless part of the ceremony.

Take a look at a few ideas for how to match your ring bearer to your wedding theme:

  • Casual: If you’re keeping your ceremony on the more casual side, consider having the ring bearer walk down the aisle handing out wedding coozies to everyone.

  • Fancy: If your wedding is going to be a more elegant affair, your ring bearer can wear a tux and carry your rings on a silver platter.

  • Tropical: For a tropical-themed wedding, you can attach the rings to a lei and have your ring bearer wear it down the aisle around their neck.

If you’re still in the beginning stages of your wedding planning and haven’t quite figured out your wedding theme, use Zola’s wedding venue and vendor finder to browse specially-vetted wedding venues. Often, your dream wedding location will lend itself to a certain wedding theme, such as a rustic theme for a barn venue or an art deco theme for a museum venue.

How to Keep Your Ring Bearer Calm and Focused on the Big Day

If you decide to choose a ring bearer who’s on the younger side, you run the risk of the child getting a little spooked when it’s their turn to go down the aisle. Because they’re young, they’ve most likely never had this many people staring at them.

Here are a few helpful tips and tricks to make sure they get to the finish line:

  • Position the Parent (or Another Friendly Face) Toward the End of the Aisle: It can be helpful to have the parent/s (or another friendly face) near the end of the aisle so that the child doesn’t stop halfway. Position the parent along the edge of the aisle so they can wave and make eye contact with the child as they walk. The ring bearer will appreciate having a comforting face to look at.

  • Practice With Them Ahead of Time: Practicing a few times will make your ring bearer more comfortable and will hopefully help lessen any nerves they may have.

  • Keep Snacks and Toys on Hand: Keep your ring bearer happy and occupied until it’s their turn to shine by having snacks and toys on hand. You can also give them a special treat if they complete their task—a small bribe that can help ensure a smooth ceremony.

  • Have a Backup Plan: It can be helpful to prepare another person to take over the role if your ring bearer hides under a table and refuses to walk on the big day. You can also avoid any last-minute snafus by asking the best man to keep the rings in his pocket.

Don’t Stress About It: A crying toddler throwing a temper tantrum will not ruin your wedding. Wedding guests have seen it all. Plus, people are used to ring bearers and flower girls stopping to say hi to a parent or getting distracted by a shiny object. Your wedding will still be a success, even if your ring bearer sits down mid-walk and starts sucking his thumb.

Do You Need to Have a Ring Bearer?

Having a ring bearer bring the rings down the aisle is a cute tradition, but it isn’t crucial to the completeness of the wedding ceremony itself. Logistically, you don’t need to have a ring bearer.

If you’re feeling undecided, take a look at some of the pros and cons of having a ring bearer so you can make the right choice for your wedding.

Pros of Having a Ring Bearer

There are some real upsides to adding a ring bearer to the lineup on your special day:

  • It’s Cute: If your guests feel comfortable and at ease on your big day, you’ll feel comfortable and at ease on your big day. Adding a little bit of cuteness with a pint-sized or four-legged ring bearer is a surefire way to lighten the mood.

  • It’s Traditional: Having a ring bearer is a ceremonial tradition in many cultures. If you’re aiming to keep your ceremony traditional, it’s best to include a ring bearer.

  • It’s Inclusive: Your friends and family are excited to celebrate your big day with you. By giving them special tasks, such as ring bearer, they get to feel even more included in the memorable event. Plus, the ring bearer will get to see their name in print on the wedding program, which is always fun no matter how old you get. With Zola’s Customizable Wedding Paper Suite, you can personalize your programs, save the dates, menus, and more. There are hundreds of amazing designs to choose from.

Cons of Having a Ring Bearer

There’s also a couple of potential downsides to having a ring bearer in your ceremony. Here are a few things to consider when deciding if you want to have a ring bearer or not:

  • Unpredictability: Despite rehearsals, if you’ve opted for a child or animal to be your ring bearer, what happens on the day of might be unpredictable.

  • A Longer Ceremony: Having a ring bearer adds an extra time component to the ceremony, especially if you’ve chosen a young kid who may walk slowly or become distracted.

Alternative Options to Having a Ring Bearer

If you’re trying to keep your wedding party small or your ceremony short and sweet, cutting out the ring bearer might make the most sense for you. But what about the rings?

Here are a few alternative options to having a ring bearer walk your rings down the aisle:

  • The Officiant: Having the officiant hold onto the rings works especially well for smaller ceremonies that aren’t going to include a large wedding party.

  • The Best Man or Maid of Honor: As long as they have a secure pocket to carry the rings in, having your best man or maid of honor carry the rings is a safe option. Then, they can hand the rings to the officiant when the time comes.

  • The Flower Girl: If you’ve already decided to have a flower girl, but are on the fence about adding a ring bearer, you can have your flower girl carry the ring pillow inside of her flower basket.

  • You or Your Partner: While holding onto your own wedding rings may not seem like the most romantic option, it’s an efficient way to ensure the rings make it down the aisle.

How Zola Can Help With Wedding Planning’s Toughest Decisions

It’s important to put some thought into who you choose to be your ring bearer (if you decide to have one), but try not to get too bogged down about exactly what age they should be. As long as they’re willing and able, you’ll end up having a beautiful ceremony—especially since you have Zola.

Our wedding experts have taken the time to sift through all of wedding planning’s nooks and crannies to ensure you make the best decisions for every detail of your big day. They’ve flipped over every rock there is and have discovered a plethora of hidden wedding gems. And they want you to have access to all of their amazing secrets.

So whether you’re deciding on your ring bearer, venue, or wedding invitation design, trust Zola to help you find the answers.