Ring Bearer 101: Everything You Need to Know

We answer all the most common ring bearer-related questions.
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
Chapelle Johnson
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
Chapelle Johnson
Associate Editor
  • Chapelle writes articles for The Knot Worldwide. She covers all things wedding-related and has a personal interest in covering celebrity engagements and fashion.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Chapelle was an editorial intern for Subvrt Magazine.
  • Chapelle has a degree in English writing from Loyola University New Orleans.
Updated Jul 27, 2022

You're considering having a ring bearer be a part of your wedding party, but have a few questions. Like, what does a ring bearer do, when do they walk down the aisle and what do they wear? But once those questions are answered, you still have some planning, preparing and proposing to do before the big day. If you don't know where to start, read our in-depth explanation of the ring bearer role and get answers to all of your questions.

In this article:

What Is a Ring Bearer?

A ring bearer is a wedding party role typically given to young children. The child precedes the bride down the aisle, often processing at the same time as the flower girl, and usually carrying the wedding ring on a ring bearer pillow.

Some historians believe that the ring bearer tradition first appeared in Ancient Egypt when adults, instead of children, would carry treasured jewels on ornamental pillows during wedding ceremonies and other celebrations. Other historians believe the tradition originated in the Medieval era when a young child would carry the ring on a pillow so wealthy families could show off their wealth since pillows were rare and symbols of their riches. (Fun Fact: Before pillows were introduced, the rings were presented on the tips of swords.)

How Old Should a Ring Bearer Be?

Traditionally, ring bearers are between the ages of three and eight years old. This age range ensures the child is mature enough to handle the ring bearer role. You can choose a child younger than three but should speak with the child's parents first to see if they can escort the child down the aisle. If you want to have a child that's 10 years old or older participate, consider them for a junior groomsman role, which has a little more responsibility and involvement in prewedding events, like the wedding shower or rehearsal dinner. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what age your ring bearer is as long as it's a role that you think the chosen person will enjoy.

If you choose a child for the wedding ring bearer job, speak to the child's parents first to see if they are willing to take on the responsibility. The ring bearer's parents are tasked with explaining the ring bearer's duties to their child, paying for the ring bearer's outfit and accessories, attending all of the prewedding festivities and arriving early on the wedding day.

How Do You Pick a Ring Bearer?

Pick someone you or your partner are close to and have a good relationship with, like kids of your honor attendants or family members. This helps foster a comfortable dynamic between you and your chosen ring bearer leading up to the wedding and on the big day. The ring bearer is sometimes referred to as the ring boy, but you can definitely opt for a girl to take on the role, an adult or your pet.

If the child is old enough, talk with them to see if they would like to be a ring bearer in the wedding. By doing so, you're allowing the child to make their own decision on whether or not they would like to take on ring bearer duties. If the child doesn't want to be a ring bearer but still wants to be involved in the wedding, offer them the job of handing out ceremony programs, which has fewer responsibilities and isn't in the spotlight.

Ring Bearer Duties

Now that you know how to choose your ring bearer, you'll need to learn all the duties associated with the job. Read below to get answers to common questions people ask about ring bearers.

What does a ring bearer do?

In a traditional wedding ceremony order, the ring bearer is after the maid of honor and bridesmaids and precedes the bride. The ring bearer walks down the aisle with ring bearer pillow in hand and gives the rings to the wedding officiant or best man once they reach the altar. Depending on the ring bearer's age, the ring bearer can stand at the altar with the rest of the wedding party or sit with their parents. If the ring bearer doesn't mind all eyes on them, they are announced with the other wedding party members during the wedding reception entrances. (Yes, a child ring bearer should still be invited to the reception even if you're planning an adults-only wedding.)

Does the ring bearer have to have a ring bearer pillow?

Typically, the ring bearer carries a ring bearer pillow with the wedding rings tied to it, but that's not required. We love the idea of reimaging the ring bearer pillow and choosing something that uniquely represents you and your partner. You can secure the rings to a ribbon that's tied around your favorite poems or scriptures, place the rings in a bouquet, or even let your ring bearer truly step up to the call of duty and have the wedding rings carried in a briefcase that reads 'RING SECURITY'.

Does the ring bearer carry the real rings?

You decide if the ring bearer carries the real wedding rings or not. We suggest you base this decision on the child's age and maturity level. Your safest bet is to give the ring bearer fake rings, so you aren't worried about them while walking down the aisle. If you're entrusting your real wedding rings with the ring bearer, ask your wedding planner or a member of your wedding party to hand the rings to the ring bearer right before the ceremony is about to start so there's a lower risk of the rings being lost.

Is it okay to have more than one ring bearer?

Have a long list of people in mind for the ring bearer position? Then have multiple ring bearers, with some acting as extra security for the rings or wearing funny ring bearer signs, like 'Has Anyone Seen the Rings?!' We suggest you have at most four ring bearers, so the wedding processional isn't longer than the entirety of the ceremony.

Ring Bearer Expenses

There are two main expenses attached to being a ring bearer that you, as a to-be-wed, and the parents of the ring bearer should know about. Keep reading to find out who pays for what and if you should give a proposal gift.

What do the ring bearers wear?

While you're figuring out what your adult attendants will be wearing on your wedding day, consider how you can coordinate your little attendants' outfits to theirs. We've seen plenty of cute ring bearer outfit options like tuxes, suspenders, bowties, classic page boy attire and even superhero costumes. No matter what you choose, give the parents of the ring bearer a couple of options to choose from since it's traditionally their job to pay for the ring bearer's outfit and accessories. If you're wedding budget allows, offer to pay for the ring bearer costs if you want the ring bearer to wear something that's on the high-end.

Should I get my ring bearer a gift?

Yes, you should get the ring bearer a gift. Giving a proposal or thank gift is a nice way to ask them to be involved in your special day or to show them that you appreciate their help after the wedding day is complete. Surprise them with one of these fun ring bearer gift ideas, like a DIY terrarium, stuffed animal or giant bubble kit.

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