Whether it’s days, weeks, or even months away, you and your partner are about to put a ring on it for life and you’ll need someone to facilitate the process. Your wedding officiant will be the one to make things legal on paper, but when it comes to the symbolic representation of your union (your wedding bands), you’ll need a ring bearer.
How do you choose the little boy to fulfill this important role? What are the details of ring bearer duties? In this blog, you’ll find out everything you need to know about wedding etiquette for ring bearers, including:
Make your way down this aisle decorated with all the details you need to know before your big day.
Traditionally, ring bearers are young boys (usually somewhere between the ages of four and 10) that have been chosen to carry a couple’s real wedding rings down the aisle before the ceremony. However, whether or not they carry the real wedding rings is up to you and your partner. Some spouses-to-be include a young ring bearer simply for the sake of tradition, but the couple puts the precious jewelry in the hands of someone a bit older and more responsible.
You can work out the logistics of who does what later on, but start by choosing someone closely linked to your family—a nephew, godson, or cousin could be an appropriate pick. Keep an open door of communication with their parents to be sure that their son (or daughter!) is up for the task.
Ring bearers have been long-time crowd-pleasers at wedding events. Watching them (sometimes haphazardly) walk down the aisle just before the flower girl is an undeniably adorable introduction to the main event. But, where did this tradition come from and when did it start?
Take a look at this brief history of ring bearers to better understand why wedding ceremonies sometimes look the way they do today.
Though it’s not known for sure, some say that ring-bearing traditions date as far back as ancient times—ancient Egypt, to be precise.
It was customary at Egyptian wedding ceremonies to entrust a young boy with the task of carrying precious gems and jewels to the altar on a decorative pillow. Not all that different from what’s often done today, right?
A Victorian-era alternative to the Egyptian ring bearer was called a page boy. At weddings—typically aristocratic ones—a boy (often one closely related to the marrying couple in some way) would be put in charge of assisting the bride down the aisle, mainly by carrying the back of her train.
In Medieval matrimonies, they took a slightly different approach. Instead of carrying wedding bands down on a pillow, ring bearers would present the betrothed couple with their rings atop a sword.
You won’t need to quiz your chosen ring bearer on this history, of course, but it could be fun to share with them just how far back their role goes.
Whether you’re sticking with tradition or making your own version of history, make sure that your ring bearer and their family keep their schedule clear on the day of your nuptials and the rehearsal (typically the day before the wedding) by sending out invitations in a timely manner. Browse through Zola’s collection of save-the-dates and wedding invitations to find a variety of styles suited to just about any wedding day aesthetic.
Once you’ve chosen your ring bearer, work with them and their family to nail down the duties for the day. You might think it’s as simple as waltzing down the aisle, rings in hand, but there are a few details regarding their responsibilities that you’ll want to clarify before the big day:
First thing’s first: they’ll need to look dashing. Well, maybe not designer-level dashing, but you’ll want to make sure that the ring bearer’s attire fits with the style you’ve chosen for the wedding day, as well as with the rest of the wedding party. Talk to their parents and set up a timeline that allows plenty of time for shopping, shipping, and any necessary tailoring.
Decide whether or not you actually want the ring bearer to carry the rings. If you’re trying to include a young family member in your ceremony, but would prefer someone else to handle the wedding bands themselves, let them know, and be sure to assign the task to another member of your wedding party.
If the ring bearer will, in fact, be delivering the rings, make sure that they know whom to give them to and how to get there. In a traditional processional, the ring bearer follows the maid, matron, or person of honor, entering just before the flower girl.
Whom does the ring bearer give the rings to? Once they’ve made it down the aisle, the ring bearer will pass off the wedding bands to either the best man or person of honor to hold onto until the time comes to exchange vows.
After they’ve fulfilled their primary duty, decide where you’d like them to stand. If your ring bearer is quite young and you plan to have a long ceremony, it could be a challenge for someone so little to stand still for so long. If you don’t have them stand alongside the other members of your wedding party, arrange for them to find their way back to their parents nearby.
Once all of those details are in order, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that your ring bearer will be the cutest and most capable around.
Still stumbling over a few more loose ends? Read on for answers to more of your questions.
There are a lot of details to sort out when it comes to planning for your wedding day. How will you stay on top of the guest count? What’s the best way to book vendors for details such as floral decor and catering services? Thankfully, Zola is brimming with planning tools to streamline the vendor selection process and to keep your to-do list organized.
If you still don’t feel like you have a firm grasp on all the ring bearer details, take a look at a few questions you might not have thought to ask.
First, consider how formal your wedding day is, in general, and then coordinate an outfit for your ring bearer that matches the aesthetic and tastefully ties in with what the rest of the wedding party will be wearing. Keep things elegant and timeless with a tuxedo or suit, or opt for something more casual such as a flannel button-down shirt and trousers for a rustic event.
Be sure to have a chat with the ring bearer’s parents when deciding on an outfit to find out what they’re comfortable with, both in terms of budget and style.
Whether you have one, two, or even a handful of ring bearers, it’s totally up to you and your partner. Remember, it’s your day and you have the freedom to personalize it in whatever manner you want. If you have a number of young children in your family and would like to include them all in some way in your ceremony, go ahead and let the ring bearers loose.
If you do decide to have multiple young ones play a role in your special day, consider a few ways to give each one their own responsibilities, such as:
You want to ensure that each kiddo in your ceremony has their own special duty.
Perhaps you’re wedded to the tradition of having a young boy carry the rings down the aisle on a plush pillow. If that’s your vision, realize it. Otherwise, feel free to swap out a young boy for any ring-bearing child you please.
Some couples may even decide to toss tradition aside entirely in favor of a pet. Your family dog or cat can take part in your ceremony by wearing a special collar that can hold the rings on a pillow or in a box. (Just make sure that they’re properly trained so that they don’t run off with your wedding bands in pursuit of a squirrel!)
Would you rather skip the formality of having a ring bearer altogether? Make your day your own by entrusting your wedding bands to an adult member of your wedding party from the beginning.
You and your partner make the rules on your wedding day, and whether or not you invite the youngins to your ceremony is entirely up to you.
However, chances are that your ring bearer is more closely linked to your family than some of your other distant relatives’ little ones. Since they’ve not only helped to tie your special day together, but also invested time and money into rehearsing their responsibilities and purchasing an outfit, it’d be a kind gesture to bring them along to the reception too, even if you’re hosting a child-free affair.
For couples who are adamant about having a kid-free reception, consider arranging a special time during the cocktail hour where ring bearers and flower girls can still feel like they’re part of the celebration. Set up a pizza table or craft station where kids can spend an hour or so before taking off for the night with a nanny or babysitter.
You’ll definitely want your ring bearer to attend the rehearsal itself. Keep in mind that this might be the first-ever wedding they attend, so they’ll benefit from an overview of the day’s events and how they fit into them. Take some time at the rehearsal to instruct them on where to stand and in what order they’ll be filing down the aisle.
As for the rehearsal dinner, it would be a courteous gesture to invite the ring bearer and their parents along since they are, in fact, part of the wedding party itself. They’ll likely be surrounded by mostly adults at this event, so plan ahead by including a few kid-friendly activities to keep them busy while everyone else mingles before the big day.
Here are a few ideas to keep them entertained:
Activity kits – Mystery bags with an assortment of surprises are often a hit with young children. Toss in a few items such as coloring books, playdough, or sidewalk chalk—and maybe a sweet treat or two for after dinner (with parent approval, of course).
Lego station – Legos have a long history of keeping kids busy for hours, and it’s also an activity that can often be done independently. Find an age-appropriate set (something wedding-themed could be fun!) and lay it out on a small table nearby where adults can still supervise.
Lawn games – If you’re hosting an outdoor rehearsal dinner with plenty of backyard space, set aside an area for lawn games. Include an assortment of bubbles and bubble wands for the ring bearer and other young ones to play with. Set up a game such as cornhole or lawn bowling that can be fun for both kids and adults.
For someone who might still be working on how to tie their own shoes, your ring bearer has agreed to take on a pretty significant role for your wedding day. Take a moment to thank them and their family for outfitting them for the occasion, attending the rehearsal, and doing it all with an adorable smile on their face. Think of a small way to express your gratitude in the form of a gift or card that can be given to them prior to your wedding day.
Need a few creative gift ideas that your ring bearer will love? Consider these ideas:
Sunglasses – From classic aviators to retro wayfarers, tie together your ring bearer’s wedding day look with a pair of sunglasses. They’ll come in handy for a mid-summer ceremony and can easily be worn time and time again after the event.
Socks – Add a pop of personality to your ring bearer’s outfit by gifting them a quirky pair of socks. Whether they feature a favorite sports team or cartoon character, pick something that you know your ring bearer will love.
Personalized memento – From framed photos to engraved wooden toys, remind your ring bearer of how special they are to you, your partner, and your wedding day with a personalized memento. Include their name or initials and your wedding date for a keepsake that they’ll be able to hang onto for years to come.
Stuffed animal or small toy – A ring-bearing teddy bear could be just the thing to let your ring bearer know how thankful you are to have them participate in your wedding day. Otherwise, think about what their interests are and give them a small toy that they’ll be able to bring along with them to keep them entertained throughout the night of the reception.
Ring security shirt – For those ring bearers who are fully embracing their duties, make their position extra official with a personalized ring security T-shirt. Include their name, the date of your wedding, and a playful title such as “Wedding Band Boss.”
You don’t have to break the bank to say thank you to your ring bearer and their family for participating in your wedding ceremony. If you’re skilled in a particular craft, consider a handmade token of gratitude such as a scrapbook or a crocheted toy.
Now that you’ve sorted out the details regarding your ring bearer, it’s time to dive into the next step of wedding planning. Whether you need to book a venue or wedding vendor, hire a photographer, or share the news of your upcoming wedding with friends and family, you’ll have a plethora of planning tools right at your fingertips at Zola.
Shop for a few thoughtful gifts for your wedding party at the Zola Boutique, showcase the cast of your wedding crew on your easy-to-personalize website, and let us root for love alongside you.