There comes a point, during your wedding-planning adventure, when you need to start deciding who’s in your wedding party. You probably had a maid of honour and best man picked out right away. But what role should you give your adorable little nephew or 10-year-old brother?
You have likely heard the terms ‘page boy’ and ‘ring bearer’ many times before. But if you’re confused as to what they mean, and what the difference is, you’re not alone. Is a page boy and ring bearer the same thing? What does each role consist of? And which one should you have at your wedding, if any? Let’s find out.
Is Ring Bearer the Same as Page Boy?
Page boys carry out very similar roles to ring bearers. They’re both important young boys in the wedding party – for example, they might be son, nephew, or cousin of the bride or groom, or even the maid of honour’s son. They both wear adorable little suits, and walk down the aisle alongside the bridesmaids.
The difference between page boy and ring bearer is a matter of what country you’re from. Page boys are traditional in European weddings, whereas ring bearers are customary in the U.S.
You will hardly ever see the term ‘page boy’ used in the U.S. And in fact, the term has started to become a little outdated on our side of the pond, too. More and more often, we’re seeing ring bearers at U.K. weddings.
It’s up to you whether you have a page boy or a ring bearer at your wedding. Let’s take an in-depth look into each role.
What Is a Page Boy?
The term ‘page boy’ doesn’t have anything to do with the pages of books. In fact, it comes from the old-fashioned word ‘page’ meaning a young male attendant. The word is most likely derived from the Latin word pagus, meaning servant.
Pages were common in medieval times. They would assist noblemen, such as lords. One of their roles included holding up their robes during processions, to stop them dragging along the ground.
This is where the role of page boy at a wedding originated. Page boys would traditionally walk behind the bride, holding up the long train of her wedding dress.
In modern weddings, of course, many wedding dresses don’t have long trains. But page boys are still around – mostly to look cute, rather than carry out any important duty.
What Does a Page Boy Do?
If your wedding dress doesn’t have a long train, you can still have a page boy. But instead of holding up your dress, he can hold something else while he walks down the aisle. This is usually a cute sign, such as this Mr & Mrs placard. Alternatively, he could simply hold hands with one of the bridesmaids!
What Does a Page Boy Wear?
The main role of a page boy is to look adorable as he walks down the aisle, so his outfit is important. Page boys usually wear a full two or three-piece suit. Usually, it’s a miniature version of the suits worn by the groom, best man and ushers (including a matching tie). If you’re renting the page boy’s suit, he should change into something else for the reception, to avoid spilling food or drink down it.
If your pageboy is very young, he needn’t wear a real suit. He could simply wear a white shirt, smart trousers and suspenders, with a little clip on bowtie.
How Old Should a Page Boy Be?
Page boys are typically between the ages of 3 and 10 years old. However, there is no lower age limit – even toddlers and babies can be pageboys (they just might need some help getting down the aisle).
Most boys over the age of 10 won’t be interested in being a page boy – the title has childish connotations because of the word ‘boy’. Ring bearers, on the other hand, can be older.
What Is a Ring Bearer?
In the U.K., the wedding rings are traditionally held by the best man. He keeps them in his pocket throughout the ceremony, presenting them to the officiant when requested. But having a young ring bearer is an adorable alternative.
The term ‘ring bearer’ can be used instead of ‘page boy’ to refer to a young male member of the wedding party. It’s most common in the U.S. Instead of holding up the wedding dress train, the ring bearer carries the wedding rings.
What Does a Ring Bearer Do?
A ring bearer’s job is fairly straightforward: he bears the rings. Specifically, he carries the bride and groom’s wedding rings down the aisle. They are either supported on a wedding ring pillow or in a ring display box. He usually walks alongside the flower girl (or junior bridesmaid).
For safety, the rings are usually tied onto the cushion or box using ribbon (so that if it’s dropped, the rings don’t roll away). If your ring bearer is very young, you may wish to give him fake rings to carry (the best man can keep the real ones safe).
What Does a Ring Bearer Wear?
Ring bearers typically wear the same outfit that a page boy would wear: that is, a miniature version of the groom’s or groomsmen’s suit. Many suit hire companies, such as Moss Bros, offer suits in both adult and child sizes, so you can get an exact match. Bow ties are more appropriate than neckties for younger boys.
As we mentioned before, your young ring bearer should change into his own clothes during any part of the day where food or drink is involved.
How Old Should a Ring Bearer Be?
As with page boys, ring bearers are typically under 10 years old. However, because they actually have to carry something – the rings – they must be old enough to walk down the aisle unaided, and carry a cushion or a box without dropping it. Most ring bearers, therefore, are over the age of 5.
Because the title of ‘ring bearer’ sounds slightly more grown-up than ‘page boy’, they can be a little older (10, 11, or 12). By the time they’re in their teens, though, consider the role outgrown.
Should I Have a Page Boy or Ring Bearer?
You don’t have to have a page boy or a ring bearer at your wedding. While page boys are more traditional than ring bearers, neither role is compulsory. So if you’d prefer a child-free wedding, or there simply aren’t any little boys in your family, you needn’t have either.
If there is a young man that you’d like to take part in your wedding, the choice is yours whether he should be a page boy, or a ring bearer. You can give him whichever title you’d like, and have him hold your train, the rings (or faux rings), a sign, or nothing at all! If there are two little lads in your life, you could have both a page boy and a ring bearer. It all comes down to your personal preference.
Can a Girl Be a Ring Bearer?
The title of ‘page boy’ is pretty self-explanatory: it’s a male role. There’s no such thing as a ‘page girl’. The female version of the page boy is the flower girl! They both perform similar roles – walking down the aisle before the bride – but whereas the page boy carries the train, the flower girl carries a flower basket or mini-bouquet.
There’s nothing stopping a girl from being your ring bearer, however. The title is gender-neutral in itself, and while ring bearers are usually boys, you can have your own rules at your wedding. If your little niece or sister would rather carry the ring than a bunch of petals, feel free to make her your ring bearer.
Wedding Party Roles for Older Boys (10+)
Ring bearers and page boys, in general, are quite young. The typical age limit for both is 10 years old (though ‘ring bearer’ is a little more age-flexible than ‘page boy’).
So, what do you do if there are no young boys in your life, but you have a slightly older male relative (such as a 13-year-old cousin)? If he’s happy to do it, he could be your ring bearer – but a more grown-up alternative is a ‘junior usher’.
Junior ushers don’t actually need to guide anyone to their seat, if they aren’t mature enough to do so. But they can stand at the venue’s entrance looking dapper, and greeting guests alongside the adult ushers.