A flower girl is a young girl who carries flowers in a procession. Most people associate them specifically with weddings, although technically they can appear in a variety of processions and events, and they are sometimes seen at parades to honor regional beauty queens or other community celebrities.
Flower girls and young women have been used in processions for centuries as symbols of purity, virginity, and youth. In many cultures, processions are organized by age, honoring the old in the rear of the procession while celebrating the young at the beginning.
Typically, a flower girl is under 10, because she is meant to symbolize childhood and youth, and she directly precedes the person being honored by the procession; in the case of a wedding, this means that she walks ahead of the bride. Flower girls typically wear simple white dresses to accentuate their youth, although they may wear colored sashes or other decorations to coordinate with the rest of the procession.
Some flower girls simply carry flowers, while others distribute flowers to the crowd and the observers. In weddings, it is traditional for the girls to scatter flowers and petals down the aisle, so that the bride walks along a carpet of flowers. Often, flowers with a symbolic meaning and a pleasant scent such as roses are chosen.
When women are thinking about the members of their wedding party, they generally pick the flower girl from among their young relatives, or the children of friends. Multiple flower girls are perfectly acceptable, for brides who want to honor several young friends, and in very formal weddings, they are actually quite common. As a general rule, the bride picks out the girl's dress, and the girl's parents are expected to pay for the dress and any accessories such as a basket or sachet for carrying the flowers.