As spring comes into full bloom and begins to make it way towards the glorious days of summer, it’s time for two time-honored school traditions: graduation and prom.
For many teenagers, prom is one of the most exciting and memorable nights of their life. The high school dance is a chance to make unforgettable memories with their friends and high school sweethearts. One of the most beloved prom traditions is that of the corsage -- the small flower arrangement that adorns a girl’s wrist or collar and is given to her by her date. The corsage is often paired with a boutonniere, a small floral arrangement that goes on the lapel of a suit. Typically, the boutonniere and corsage are in matching or complementary colors or flower arrangements, but that can depend on the coordination of the pair. If you’re going solo to prom or prefer to select your corsage yourself, there’s no saying you can’t buy your own as well!
What Corsage to Buy
There are many options when it comes to a corsage -- you can buy a premade corsage, work with a florist to order a custom design, or even go in a totally different direction and order a plastic corsage. Plastic flowers are growing in popularity as a way to promote reusable corsages and they can be ordered from various online retailers.
However, if you’re going to buy the real thing you still have my decisions to make. If you’ve left the corsage to the last minute, you can buy a premade design from a florist and hope for the best. But the most polite and best option is to work with a florist on a custom design.
Though carnations and roses are the most common flowers for a corsage or boutonniere, the sky is truly the limit when it comes to selecting the flowers for your design. Do your research and come to the florist with ideas and they can help steer you in the right direction. Bold and bright colors are very in right now for corsages, as they complement the youthful vibe and energy of prom night. Statement pieces that make use of a variety of textures and details are all the rage right now.
The most important thing to consider when purchasing a corsage is what your date is wearing. A corsage (and a boutonniere) should match and complement your date’s gown and your tux.So even if you’re going with a pre-made design, be sure the flower and ribbon colors match or complement your date’s outfit. The last thing you want is to present her with a corsage that clashes terribly with her dress. There are many ways to avoid this -- ask your dress for a swatch of fabric from the dress or a photo of the gown to share with the florist (you’ll need it anyway if you’re planning to match your tux). Or if you don’t mind the corsage not being a surprise, you can even bring your date with you to the flower shop to choose the proper ribbon and flower colors.
There are many options when it comes to the color selection -- you can pick flowers that naturally blossom in hues that complement/match the dress or you can choose a flower that can be easily dyed, such as a carnation. You may also choose to opt for a neutral hue, such as white, and use ribbon and other accessories to match the gown. Consider any number of options, from including rhinestones in the arrangement to match the sparkle on your date’s dress to dyeing a carnation nearly any shade to match.
If you’re deciding between a wrist or a shoulder corsage, consider your date’s dress -- shoulder corsages can be very heavy, so if they’re wearing a strapless gown, it’s best you opt for a wrist corsage. Otherwise, you may have nowhere to pin it! In general, wrist corsages are more popular nowadays anyway, but you can always ask your date what she prefers.
Besides the color of the gown, feel free to ask your date about her likes and dislikes before finalizing your choices. Be sure you’re not buying her a corsage featuring blooms she hates. Most importantly, find out if there’s any flowers or plants that your date is allergic to and tell your florist. The last thing you want is your date to have itchy eyes or be sneezing all night because of your corsage.
When to Buy a Corsage
You should allow ample time for your corsage, whether you’re ordering online and need to allow for shipping time or buying directly from a florist. Prom is a very busy time of year for florists (in addition to all the prom orders, they’re also often handling Mother’s Day and graduation requests, as well as heading into wedding season). Therefore, you need to give them plenty of time to ensure you’re getting the best work. If you want to purchase a pre-made corsage, visit the shop a week prior to the dance to place your order, but be aware that the choices will be limited (and call ahead to be sure the florist you’re visiting sells them). Do not go into a florist the same day as the prom and expect them to make miracles happen.
If you’re buying a custom corsage, place your order a minimum of two weeks in advance. This will give the florist plenty of time to order the proper materials (and flowers) and make your corsage. You won’t pick up the corsage until the morning of the dance to ensure the flowers are of optimum freshness, but planning ahead is key. Once you pick up the corsage, store it in the refrigerator or a cool place until you give it to your date to keep the petals looking fresh and beautiful.
How Much is a Corsage?
Corsages can really range in price, from as cheap as $20 to as high as $50. Boutonnieres run a bit cheaper and hover in the $10-12 range, but they’re less involved and typically only feature one central flower. The type of bloom and the ornateness of the design will largely inform the price point. If you’re on a tight budget, be upfront with your florist when you place your order. They may advise you to order a pre-made design or to pick a less pricey design. Don’t wait until you go to pick up your corsage and then be shocked by the price tag. Discuss what blooms and designs will cost in advance and plan or adjust your designs accordingly.
How to Wear the Corsage or Boutonniere
It is traditional for people to present their dates with their corsage or boutonniere prior to departing for the prom. Many families enjoy taking photos of their daughters receiving corsages from their dates and pinning their boutonnieres on. Etiquette and tradition state that a corsage should be worn on the left side (either the left wrist or left shoulder strap), but ultimately, placement and how you wear is up to personal preference. Many left-handed people prefer to wear their corsage on their right hand.
The most important thing is that you wear the corsage and express admiration and appreciation for your date’s selection. Odds are they dedicated at least some thought to the process and you should let them know you appreciate their effort. Depending on the bloom and the size of the arrangement, corsages may start to come apart over the course of the evening depending on how vigorously you’re dancing. Don’t fret if your petals turn slightly brown or blooms fall off during the course of the evening -- it’s natural wear and tear.
Many wish to save their corsage as a memento of their special evening. Place it in a cool, dry place when you return home and allow it to completely dry out before storing it in a more permanent location as a keepsake.
A corsage can be a special memory and symbol of an unforgettable night -- be sure to pick the perfect one!