Youngest guests walking down the aisle in style

They’re little angels and they just might steal the show. They’re flower girls, with their bouncing ringlets and starry eyes — and maybe even a magic wand or pixie wings. As more and more designers loosen the restrictive reins on bridal fashion, knowing that brides are opting for more of a distinctive, personal approach to the gown they choose for their wedding ceremony, the dresses for those charming little flower girls have blossomed, too.

After all, the history of including flower girls in weddings dates back to Greek and Roman matrimonial ceremonies where children scattered herbs and grains to symbolize fertility in the bride’s path. Young girls waved sheaves of wheat in front of the bride in medieval times. Bouquets of flowers were popular in the Elizabethan era before flower-filled baskets and decorated hoops became the norm in Queen Victoria’s day.

But in 2006, the flower girl has evolved into a spirited part of the modern wedding, wearing dresses and accessories that invoke a more capricious attitude. One of the most important ways to put a little magical sparkle into the flower girl’s dress in today’s world is with color.

Shimmer and shine are lighting up organza dresses at Pink Princess ( where tulle skirts sparkle with rhinestones and stardust. In other satin A-line dresses, gold is the color of choice (a great complement to bridal gowns embroidered or beaded in a metallic gold or bronze) as well as lilac, pink, blue and sage green.

At US Angels (, flower girl dresses glisten with satin cummerbunds pinned with jeweled brooches — a very grown-up touch. Beaded sequin bows and headbands are other gleaming accessories that will dazzle wedding guests. And if the bride really wants more of a formal look for her youngest attendants, US Angels has rhinestone and pearl wreaths with detachable veils.

With deeper jewel-tone colors easing into the bridal apparel market, brides who opt to buy dresses accented with darker hues may also want flower girl attire that harmonizes with their choice of more colorful gowns. For instance, a French-blue satin ball gown might be the perfect complement to a blue silk organza dress accessorized with an ivory sash and silk flowers. Designer Joan Calabrese has even brighter ideas, conjuring up organza confections in hot pink and coral with shimmering iridescent sashes.

Accessories are another way brides can spark up the celebration with the younger set. While wedding ceremonies are sacred occasions, children always seem to charm their way into the photographs and memories for years to come. So take advantage of their youthful playfulness and give them a chance to express themselves, not only by strewing baskets of rose petals down the aisle but in other ways as well. David’s Bridal has a selection of flower girl dresses with colorful rose petals sewn right into the netting of the skirt.

Or choose a more whimsical approach — outfit the flower girls with a little wedding magic. Make it a storybook time for them by giving them ribbon-wrapped wands decked out with glittering stars, flowers or poufs of feathers. Headpieces can also take flights of fancy with flower-woven headbands, jeweled tiaras and wreaths dripping with ribbons. Big bows, decorated hats or plump flowers pinned in the hair also make little girls even more adorable.

Many wedding boutiques carry these fanciful accessories, but an upscale costume shop might provide lots of inspiration, too. Add light and airy gossamer wings to their dresses — perfect for those little angels at a fairy-tale wedding.