It’s nearly prom season! And that means one thing—it’s also time for prom flowers. Along with the tradition of prom dresses, ill-fitting tuxedos, photo sessions in the gym, and awkward slow dancing, there’s another great prom tradition: flowers for your date!
Most traditionally, couples choose to buy prom corsages and boutonnieres for each other, but some opt for bouquets or shake things up entirely. For instance, if you’re going with a group of gal pals, you might want to all buy corsages. Or, maybe you and your date are both donning menswear for the evening -- in that case, you’d likely need boutonnieres.
No matter what type of flowers you need for prom, here’s the only guide you need to get ordering.
Prom Flowers Etiquette
Outside of Valentine’s Day, prom is likely the busiest time of year for florists. Prom season tends to align with Mother’s Day, graduations, and the beginning of wedding season, so it’s important to be mindful of the busy time of year when deciding on something extra special.
Whether it’s an online order or a pickup from your local florist, allow for ample time for order processing. If it’s a premade corsage you’re wanting, think about visiting a florist one week prior to the dance (and be aware that choices might be limited). Never expect to be capable of visiting a florist the day of the dance and still get what you’re looking for!
Purchasing a custom arrangement also requires extra attention, requiring a minimum of two weeks so that proper materials can arrive as your desired arrangement takes shape.
Planning ahead is wise. You’ll want to arrive at the florist to get your arrangement no sooner than the morning of the dance, in order to ensure maximum freshness. In all likelihood, the shop will store your arrangement in a cool place so that the petals look beautiful for you and your date.
From the word “Bouquet de corsage,” meaning “bouquet of the bodice,” corsages are traditionally worn by women on their dress or wrist as a floral accent to their formalwear. It’s considered one of the most time-honored traditions of prom night (and even if you don’t have a date, there’s no saying you can’t treat yourself).
The options for corsages are vast. They can be worn anywhere, really—from the hair to the waist and beyond. When selecting a corsage, first try to discern (or ask outright) what type of corsage your date may prefer. If they’re wearing a gown with thin straps or going strapless, they may prefer a corsage they can wear on their arm so it doesn’t weigh down their delicate dress. If you’re going for something really unique, such as a spray of flowers she can wear in her hair, be sure to ask if it’s something she’d be into. It all depends on her plans for her prom night hairstyle.
The other crucial piece of information to consider is the color of your date’s dress. Many people opt to bring a photo of the dress (or a swatch of fabric) to the florist so they can make an exact match. It can assist with the color of the flowers or other accent pieces they might use, such as ribbon, rhinestones, lace, and more. Do your best to select an arrangement that will complement your date’s dress, whether that means an exact match or an accent color that adds just the right pop of fun to the ensemble. If you don’t know what your date will be wearing, opt for a neutral color (like white) and the florist can spruce up the look with some bling.
You can also select the exact flowers used on the corsage—roses, carnation, orchids, and lilies are all popular options. Roses and carnations are particularly popular because they are sturdy flowers that will last the entire evening and they come in a wide range of colors, making it easier to match any prom look. In fact, carnations can be dyed just about any color, so that’s a great option if your date is wearing a color that doesn’t occur naturally. Generally, it’s best to allow the florist to select what blooms they use and just give them guidance on color and placement -- their experience will likely result in a better arrangement than whatever you choose. Do take care of one thing, though find out if your date has any significant allergies to flowers. You don’t want her sneezing, or worse, getting a rash on prom night because you didn’t think to ask.
If your date has bad allergies or if you’re concerned about sustainability, many shops now offer corsages made from plastic, paper, and other beautiful creative takes on “fake” flowers. So, that’s always an option.
Of the traditional prom flowers, corsages can be pricey. Expect to pay anywhere from $20-$50. Pre-made arrangements tend to run cheaper than custom designs, just be upfront with your florist about your budget and they’ll help you find something that works.
Typically a single flower pinned to a man’s lapel, boutonnieres express simplicity, so opt for one flower and a streamlined design over something too ornate.
Traditionally, the boutonniere should match the corsage in both color and flower selection. One easy way to ensure the two items complement each other is to order them together -- that way the florist will be preparing each with the other in mind. The boutonniere should match your date’s tie, cumberbund, or vest (which should theoretically match your dress). Boutonnieres tend to avoid the feminine touches and bling of corsages, so if this is something you want, ask your date if they like the idea and make a special request. When in doubt, a single white rose or carnation is the easiest way to be sure you have a classy, complementary look. Boutonnieres tend to be significantly cheaper than corsages (since they involve less materials) and run from about $10-12.
Yes, bouquets are certainly not the traditional option for prom night, but that doesn’t mean you can’t shake things up a bit. Here’s a fun fact: the tradition of the corsage comes from a 20th century practice of men bringing their date’s parents a bouquet of flowers. From that, they would select a single bloom to pin to their date’s dress.
Many of the same rules apply for bouquets as corsages and boutonnieres. Allow plenty of time for ordering, and select an arrangement/color scheme that complements the outfit of your date. Keep in mind that it’s unlikely your date will want to bring a bouquet to prom and keep hold of it all night. Although, you do have some leeway here, as they a bouquet is pretty to take photos with it and can be left behind in a vase of water to extend its life. If it is something you intend to take photographs with and not just a romantic gesture, be extra careful to choose something in neutral shades (white and cream), or something that matches the color scheme of your outfits.
Bouquets, particularly custom arrangements, tend to be more expensive than either corsages or boutonnieres. They can range from as low as $20 to somewhere in the $100’s. It’s something to keep in mind when selecting your perfect prom flowers.
Whether you want a corsage, boutonniere, or bouquet, the best guideline to purchasing prom flowers is to keep your date in mind. Choose something they’ll love, and have fun enjoying a special rite of passage in teenage life.