Flower girl basket confusion

I recently married off my daughter who is still in the process of getting very nice gifts for all the attendants, including 2 flower girls, who are daughters of our brother & sister-in-law’s.

Because I was so busy with post-wedding cleanup & reorganizing, it wasn’t until several days after the wedding that I noticed the two flower girl baskets, (which I had originally intended to keep as keepsakes and future family weddings because of their unique & beautiful designs) were missing. I had my husband ask their parents if they knew anything about them and they replied they had packed them in their own luggage before departing out of state, since they assumed the baskets were theirs to keep. I then had my husband ask them if I could get them back.

I heard later their mom was shocked and embarrased that I would dare ask for them back and their dad was absolutely livid. My Parents-in-laws sided with them, angry at me and felt I was obligated to let them keep them anyway for the trouble of having them travel a long distance. My mother-in-law insisted that it was tradition for the baskets to be automatically given to the girls but I never heard or read of anything like that in all my wedding research. I had already let them keep their beautiful hand-made head wreaths and flowers and knew my daughter would be getting more gifts for the girls.

This issue has caused a rift in our family and now my brother in law refuses to speak to me. He insists the burden was on me to inform them beforehand or at least let them know before they packed them. Everyone else I know says they should have returned them automatically or they should have at least asked if I wanted them back. Were the baskets supposed to automatically go to the flower girls to keep or should their parents supposed to give them back or ask?

Nancy Tucker

Dear NewMomInLaw,

The baskets traditionally (at least on the east coast) go to the flower girl as a momento. If your intention was to keep them, of course it would have been your place to let that be known beforehand. I know that they were special but the fact is, unfortunately, they could not be worth the rift in the family.

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites, Inc

I couldn’t agree with Nancy more! Even if you paid for these baskets and your intention was to keep them as an heirloom, how much could they be worth? Certainly they are not worth the risk of alienating family members! Choose your battles wisely.

I would immediately write a note of apology and blame the stress of the wedding planning. [;)]

In addition, typically attendants gifts are given before the wedding at the rehearsal dinner or other time so if your daughter is still thinking about buying those gifts she’d better hurry!

Congratulations to your daughter.


Thanks for the reply, but here on the West Coast there’s no hard and fast rules or traditions that I or anyone of our friends here are aware of regarding giving flower girls the baskets. From what I understand, isn’t it the bride & her family who has the option of what to do with all their purchased accessories?

I’ve read several articles and etiquette books and I haven’t seen any mention of it. Had there been, I would understand discussing with them beforehand and not risk any aggravation on their part.

As soon as I heard how upset the parents were, I shot off an apology and explanation, even offering to buy another set for them but they declined. However, the mom seemed to understand why I wanted to keep them and said the girls were happy with the head pieces that were already given to them.

I realize that had they been given their gifts by the bride beforehand, it may have eased things a little, but due to circumstances beyond her control, that wasn’t possible.

I certainly agree that a couple baskets are not worth alienating family. I just wish their own dad would realize that as well. Better yet, why don’t etiquette books mention this issue if it’s so important?

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Dear Fellow West Coast Person,

Well, I agree that I have never heard of the flower girl getting to keep the basket either. Here, as far as I know, we would have considered the basket as a prop owned by the bride. It would be her property. So, this could be where the confusion comes from.

Because this appears to be a regional custom, it would probably be best to contact these family members and let them know that you had no idea about this custom. In actuality, you were unknowingly impolite to them.

Thank you, Nancy, for letting all of us know of this custom.

I suppose the focus should be on the fact that we have regional differences, but hopefully we can talk about them and learn more. Your family is much more important than an item.

I really wish these little things were in the etiquette books. But, there are so many little things. No one could read such a huge book. Most of the time we just have to work with the ‘rules’ we have written down and use our best judgment. If we consider how the other person may feel and try to put ourselves in other’s shoes, we make fewer mistakes.

Best wishes,