The Ultimate Guide To Boutonnieres and Corsages

Anyone who went to their high school prom will at least be familiar with the terms “boutonniere” and “corsage.” However, we at Venus ET Fleur® want to set the record straight by clarifying that these tiny flowers are so much more than mere ornaments to be sweatily pinned onto your date’s clothes while one of your parents hovers. 

There is so much more to know about beautiful boutonnieres and charming corsages. We want to set you up with everything you need to know so that you are fully informed and prepared to go into whatever occasion you need them for. 

Keep reading to find out more in our ultimate guide to boutonnieres and corsages. 

What Is a Boutonniere?

Boutonniere translates directly from French to mean “buttonhole” in English. It is, therefore, one or two small flowers traditionally placed through the buttonhole of a suit, next to the handkerchief pocket. 

Historically, boutonnieres began catching steam as an ornamental accessory for men around the 16th century. Then by the late 19th century, they were already generally associated with elegance, wealth, and style. 

Who Wears Boutonnieres? 

Traditionally, boutonnieres have always been primarily worn by grooms in weddings and young men attending their proms. In weddings, in addition to the groom, groomsmen, ushers, and the father of the bride also all usually wear a boutonniere with their suits or tuxedos. 

For prom, it is the young woman who usually is meant to pick out and buy the boutonniere for her date. In these cases, you tend to see many white roses, which go with just about anything, or colorful flowers that match the hue of the woman’s dress (or a young man’s suit, if he picks a vibrant and eye-catching design). 

Outside of the usual wedding or prom, boutonnieres are worn by men on special occasions attending fancier events, such as formal dinners, opera visits, and any other time where tuxedos or other similarly ceremonial, classy clothes are required. 

How to Wear Boutonnieres 

Due to its minimalism, the boutonniere is a simple flower arrangement to put together, but the flowers and colors used as well as how they are worn all go a long way in making them the chic accent pieces they are. 

Considering the types of events boutonnieres are typically worn for, it makes sense that this accessory is typically oh-so-romantically placed right around the wearer’s heart. It is attached there, to the left lapel, and always higher than the handkerchief or chest pocket on the suit. 

A boutonniere is usually a living, healthy flower, though the color, type, and arrangement really depend on the individual’s tastes and what his partner is wearing, both dress and corsage-wise. Typically, boutonnieres and corsages complement each other as well as the outfits of the wearer, presenting a simultaneously united and fashion-forward front. 

Although many types of flowers can be used as boutonnieres, what is ultimately chosen may also depend upon the weather, the florist’s recommendations, and which flowers are actually in season at the time. Largely foolproof go-tos that remain appropriate for basically any event or time of year are roses, carnations, and orchids. 

What Is a Corsage? 

Corsage is the French word for “bodice,” which is a piece of clothing that was most popular in 16th to 18th century Europe. A bodice fitted closely to the torso using tightly fastened laces in the front. As such, a corsage can be worn attached to a woman’s dress, but is most commonly just fastened onto her wrist. 

A corsage is either one flower or a small flower arrangement used as an accessory by a woman to complement her outfit for special occasions like weddings and proms. 

Like with the boutonniere, corsages grew in popularity several centuries ago, when they were worn attached to dress bodices and eventually on a woman’s dress strap near her shoulder. 

In the 20th century, the corsage began being used for proms, leading them to be attached to the young woman’s wrist when her dress had no straps or straps that were too thin. This helped to popularize the practice of wearing it on the wrist, as many female prom-goers do today. 

Who Wears Corsages? 

For proms, young women traditionally will always wear corsages attached to their person, and their date is typically supposed to provide the arrangement (making it a nice floral exchange when the time comes for the pair to meet pre-prom). 

At weddings, however, it is not just the bride who wears a corsage. Mothers (and stepmothers) of both the bride and groom, as well as grandmothers, ushers, and even the officiant, are all women who are likely to wear a corsage during a wedding. It can mark notable attendees and participants in the wedding, thus widening the net of who can wear one other than the bride. 

Proms typically see the male date bring a corsage for his female date, often matching it to her dress (and even potentially to the boutonniere she has picked out for him). Weddings somewhat similarly see the groom and his side of the family providing the corsages by purchasing them for all of those people marked as distinguished enough to merit or need one. 

How to Wear Corsages 

As we have touched upon already, there are multiple ways to wear a corsage, making them slightly more versatile than their male counterparts. 

For proms and weddings in modern times, the corsage can be attached to the front of a dress, a dress’s strap, or the wearer’s wrist. It all mostly depends on personal preference and whatever is most comfortable to the individual wearing it. Wherever it is worn on the body, it typically will be placed on the left side (so the left wrist or left shoulder). 

Like boutonnieres, corsages are usually living, healthy flowers, although some can be made of silk or dried flowers. Corsages today are smaller than they were centuries ago, but they remain eye-catching accessories. As a result, men and women try to find corsages that best match the color and style of the wearer’s dress. 

Roses, orchids, and ranunculuses are some of the most popular corsage choices, as these gorgeous flowers are typically multicolored, easy to procure, and very durable no matter the season

Boutonniere and Corsage Dos and Don’ts 

When it comes to both choosing the flower arrangements for boutonnieres and corsages, as well as keeping them fresh and fabulous, there are several dos and don’ts to keep in mind. Read these guidelines carefully and adhere to them in order to find and maintain the best and most beautiful flowers possible. 

Dos for Boutonnieres and Corsages

  • Do Choose Your Favorite Flowers: Whether it is prom or a wedding, this is a day that feels huge for the participants. There is no reason to sacrifice the things you love most just for the sake of the event itself. Maximize and prioritize personal joy by picking the flowers you love most for your corsage and boutonniere. 

  • Do Try to Pick Resilient Flowers: We have already mentioned roses, orchids, carnations, and ranunculuses as standouts when it comes to hardy flower types that can withstand the wear of your special day. Hopefully, at least one of these types overlaps with your favorite flower. Luckily, they are all versatile, making it easy to find an option you will fall in love with in no time.

  • Do Place a Detailed and Timely Order: Something that can ruin the florals for your prom, wedding, or special event is not having them in time! Place a detailed order with a trusted florist between two weeks to a whole month before the actual date of the event. This ensures that you get exactly what you want and get it right when you want it.


  • Don’t Stress About Matching: Yes, it can be aesthetically pleasing to have the boutonnieres and corsages all match perfectly in color, flower type, and size. However, it is not worth breaking your back or the bank to get everything the same. 

    A uniform look is ideal for some people and parties, but others will savor the opportunity for originality that using several different flower types and styles can bring. Choosing a boutonniere and corsage should be fun, after all, so if it feels like too much work or worry, feel free to change course. 

  • Don’t Dispose of Them Immediately: After the event is over, prolong the fun and freshness of your flowers by using a freezer or hairspray to dehydrate and preserve them. This makes a wonderful keepsake to remember your special day by.

  • Don’t Get Them Too Soon: Aim to have your flowers delivered or picked up just one or two days before they are needed for your special event. This will both make them more likely to be fresh for the big day and make it easier for you in general, as you will not have to worry about them wilting on you.  

  • Don’t Let Allergies Stop You: Do you, your partner, or someone in your party have allergies that make you unable to use live flowers for a boutonniere or corsage?  

    You can still have a lovely and real-looking floral arrangement that won’t cause loud sneezes or red, watering eyes that are not just a product of getting caught in the moment. Turn to silk or paper man-made flowers, or even hypoallergenic real flower types like roses, hydrangeas, and carnations.



The History of Corsages and Boutonnieres: Know the Facts | Classy Wish

What is a Boutonniere? | Info Bloom

What does a corsage symbolise? | Vogue Ballroom