Holidays & Occasions

A Guide on Buying a Corsage or Boutonniere

How To Buy A Corsage

Boutonnieres and corsages are staples at proms, weddings, and graduations. But outside of those events, they aren’t frequent florals in today’s society, at least not compared to traditional bouquets. For this reason,  there can be a lot of questions surrounding them. Questions like, where should I buy? How should I put it on? Why do we wear them at all?

We’ll walk you through the answers to all of these questions (and more!) From which side of the jacket to pin a boutonniere to how to buy a corsage and where to store it, we’ve got you covered.


Corsages: What, Where, When, and Why

A corsage is a miniature bouquet of flowers worn around the wrist for a formal occasion.  Traditionally, a corsage is given to a woman by a date and should coordinate with her attire.

The word “corsage” is French and originally referred to the bodice of a dress, where the flowers were once pinned. In ancient times, flowers were worn to special events to ward off evil spirits.

Eventually, as fewer people worried about evil spirits ruining their prom night, the tradition slowly evolved to a gentleman showing respect to his date’s parents by offering a bouquet of flowers and then pinning a flower from the bouquet to the date’s dress. In this sense, corsages symbolize respect and attachment. While corsages were originally attached to the bodice of a dress – or a shoulder strap – since spaghetti straps and strapless dresses have come into fashion, they have transitioned to the wrist.

While traditionally the male buys the corsage and the woman buys the boutonniere, it doesn’t really matter: you could buy yourself ten boutonnieres to pin all over your dress if you were so inclined.

How to Buy a Corsage

Most people think of corsages as carnation– or rose-based, with some type of “filler” like baby’s breath or greenery. However, nowadays there are lots of options. A unique newer take on the corsage is a succulent based wrist piece, or a sheet music corsage that integrates your hobby into your floral arrangement. For weddings, you could even swap out sheet music with love letters between the bride and groom.

You should plan to have your corsage delivered one or two days before the event, as you can refrigerate them for up to 24 hours before the event. If you’ve waited until last minute (and who hasn’t), many florists offer same- day delivery.

How to Put on a Corsage

It’s customary to wear the corsage on the left side of the dress or the left wrist, as it is also customary to place the boutonniere on the left jacket lapel.

Breaking it Down: Boutonnieres

Worn frequently in the past, boutonnieres (like corsages) are now mostly reserved for special occasions, so knowing how to buy a boutonniere isn’t exactly common sense. Still, they are a common addition to formal attire, and standard fare at proms, homecomings, and weddings.

The word “boutonniere” itself is a French word that means “little buttonhole,”  and refers to the placement of a single flower on a suit jacket. On the battlefields of England, each side wore a particular type and color of flower to distinguish friends from enemies. In the 19th century, fashions began to include coats folded over at the top, revealing the inside of the buttonhole, perfect to slip a little flower inside.

How to Buy a Boutonniere

A boutonniere should be delivered 1-2 days before the event and can be refrigerated up to 24 hours prior. You can find one at any florist shop, online, or you can custom make them with your own favorite blooms! An important thing to remember is to ask your florist to keep the stem for the bloom on the longish side to make it easy to pin on. A floral pin should be included, but if not, any hobby or craft supplies store (Hobby Lobby, JoAnn’s Fabrics) will carry them. They are thicker and more ornate than regular pins, so don’t settle for a safety pin!

How to Wear a Boutonniere

The boutonniere, like the corsage, is worn on the left jacket lapel. It is typically no larger than a golf ball and tends to be formal white if it does not match a date’s attire. At weddings, the groom typically has a different boutonniere than his groomsmen, one that matches or complements his bride’s bouquet.


When you’re busy trying to figure out how you’re even getting to prom, or what your gluten-free options will be at your wedding reception, you don’t need to be stressing over how to buy a corsage or boutonniere. That’s why Bouqs makes planning that much simpler – happiness guaranteed!

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