Junior Bridesmaids: Etiquette Q&A

Your junior bridesmaid -- too old to be a flower girl, too young to be a bridesmaid -- requires special consideration. Here are answers to some common etiquette questions on what she wears, who can escort her, how to gift her, and more.
Bridesmaids and junior bridesmaids portrait with bride at vineyard wedding
Anna Delores Photography

Q. Is a nine-year-old girl a flower girl or a junior bridesmaid?

A. The role of junior bridesmaid is appropriate for young ladies aged 9-14. She walks down the aisle with the other maids wearing a dress that's perhaps not as sophisticated as the other dresses. She can be involved in planning the shower and lend a hand with other prewedding tasks. She'll probably get a kick out of being treated like a big kid.

Q. What do you do if your 12-year-old junior bridesmaid looks like she's about 25?

A. Use your best judgment. If she's 13-going-on-30 in the looks and maturity department, it might make sense to make her a full-fledged bridesmaid. No one will be concerned with formality (i.e., whether or not her age actually qualifies her to claim bridesmaid status). If you think she'll be right at home with the more mature bridesmaids, don't go out of your way to complicate things. It's okay to give her a promotion.

Q. Is it inappropriate to have a 13-year-old junior bridesmaid walked down the aisle with a groomsman who's 15 years her senior?

A. Most processionals involve bridesmaids pairing off with groomsmen who are not a husband, boyfriend, or even a remote love interest. There's no sexual implication in this formality, and besides, your junior bridesmaid's escort will hopefully be nothing less than a perfect gentleman. If you're still uncomfortable, you have a couple of options: Your junior bridesmaid can walk alone and enjoy a moment in the spotlight; you can pair her up with another bridesmaid; or you have one of the groomsman escort her and another bridesmaid on his other arm to create a handsomely platonic triplet.

Q. What does a junior bridesmaid wear?

A. If the bridesmaid dresses are on the sexy side, consider having a seamstress create a more youthful version (she can doctor up an actual bridesmaid dresses or custom-design one). The best bridesmaid dress styles look good on ladies of all ages -- hopefully you'll be able to find one that's appropriate for everyone. Otherwise, check out stores that carry bat mitzvah party, sweet sixteen, or Quinceanera dresses.

Knot Note: Keep in mind that your junior bridesmaid may be going through puberty. This means she might unexpectedly gain weight, shed weight, shoot up five inches, sprout a bustline, or otherwise change shape in a very short span of time. Advise her parents to hold off on dress decisions and fittings till just a month or two before the wedding so that her wedding day frock will fit just right.

Q. Are junior bridesmaids invited to the bachelorette party?

A. It should go without saying that a junior bridesmaid attending the bachelorette party might not be a good idea, especially if you're doing a pub crawl or a strip club -- she's not of legal age. But even if you're partying at home, and feel uncomfortable having her around, it's okay to not invite her. The bride can tell her it's an adults-only thing and then make it up to her by arranging a special outing for just the two of them. Plus, the junior bridesmaid can always look forward to attending the bridal shower and bridesmaids' tea.

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