A corsage is a small collection of flowers arranged and held together by a stylized fancy ribbon. Not to be confused with the boutonniere, the corsage is an accessory worn by female family members of a bride and groom on the wedding day.
While corsages are beautiful and charming, they can be quite challenging to put on, especially if you plan on doing it yourself. In this article, we’ve got everything you need to know about corsages and we’ll also show you how to pin one on the right way. Let’s take a look.
History of Corsages
In France, the word ‘corsage’ referred to the bodice of a dress, which women often decorated with flowers. These flowers were generally called ‘bouquet de corsage,’ which was eventually shortened to ‘corsage’ when it started taking on various forms other than random flowers sewn onto a dress.
Around the 16th century, people believed that flowers and herbs effectively kept bad spirits and evil vibes at bay, particularly during weddings and other large, festive gatherings. For weddings, both men and women wore flowers on their persons, usually over suit jackets and dresses.
As times changed, public fear over evil spirits and bad juju began to waver, especially as science advanced. Cures were found for diseases that people used to think were simply brought on by evil spirits.
Although the fears subsided, people never really shook off the practice of wearing flowers during formal events. Without its original attached meaning, corsages became a luxury courtship item. Boys would present their dates with corsages on prom night and children would gift them to their mothers on Mother’s Day or on their birthdays.
The Difference between the Corsage and Boutonniere
Many people tend to mistake corsages for boutonnieres but while the two look similar, they’re actually quite different. The boutonniere is a small floral decoration worn by men and consists of a flower or bud whereas a corsage refers to a small bouquet of flowers worn by women on their dress or on the wrist.
Bridegrooms typically wear boutonnieres on their wedding day, but the corsage isn’t commonly worn by brides since they already carry a bouquet. Instead, it’s worn by the mothers, grandmothers and any other female family member of both the bride and the groom. Today, the boutonniere is also often referred to as a corsage by most people, which is the main reason for confusing the two.
How to Pick the Right Corsage
On top of its historical significance, corsages elevate formal attires, adding a fresh flair to any outfit. If you’re thinking about wearing a corsage on your special day, here are some tips on how to choose the right one:
- Pick a color scheme – Your corsage could either complement or provide a contrast to your entire outfit. Before deciding on it, make sure the color scheme looks good not just with your attire, but with the wedding theme as well. For example, a single white carnation is one of the simplest yet most elegant options that goes with almost anything.
- The style of the ribbon – It’s important to put some thought into the color and style of your corsage ribbon. You have to make sure that like the rest of it, the ribbon also fits well with the theme of the wedding.
- Pinned and magnetic corsages – These are a little heavier to carry and might not look as sharp as pin-on corsages, but they’re a convenient option for those who don’t want to go through the hassle of pinning.
- Decide on which flowers to get – Choosing the flowers for your own corsage is entirely up to you, much like how the bride can choose anything she wants for her bouquet. Before you decide, take a look at various types of flowers and corsages to help you make your decision.
Best Flowers for Corsages
While you have the freedom to choose any flower for your corsage arrangement, it’s important to keep in mind that there are certain meanings attached to different kinds of flowers. Some flowers might be more suitable than others when it comes to weddings.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the most commonly used flowers for wedding corsages and what they represent.
Nude rose corsages by Flowers by the Vase. See them here.
Roses are a famous symbol of romantic love and make for beautiful and meaningful corsages. It’s the most popular flower to give your special someone on Valentine’s Day and it’s a great choice for a wedding day corsage as well. Standard red roses also look good with most other colors and their classic look makes them easy to match with almost anything.
Pink carnation flower corsage by Bobby Pin Boutique NL. See it here.
Carnations are beautiful and elegant flowers often worn in corsages. These flowers look simple and attractive, especially against dark-colored dresses. It’s a stylish and classy addition to any attire and it’s also quite easy to find.
Burnt orange chrysanthemum corsage by Jz Yu Atelier. See it here.
Depending on your culture, chrysanthemums could either be the best or the worst flower to include in your wedding day corsage. In some European countries, chrysanthemums are strongly associated with death and are only ever presented as a token of grief or bereavement.
The universal symbolism of this flower, however, has to do with loyalty, devotion and joy — basically everything you’re committing to your significant other on your wedding day. To be safe, find out what chrysanthemums mean to your and your partner’s culture before ultimately deciding if you want it for your corsage. In any case, the delicate appearance of this flower would make a great addition to your outfit.
Basic Principles of Wearing a Corsage
When it comes to the right way of pinning on a corsage, there are a couple of basic principles to keep in mind:
- Pin the corsage over the left side of your outfit. Like boutonnieres, corsages are typically worn on the left side. However, if you choose to wear the corsage on your wrist (probably the most popular way to wear corsages today), you can place it on your right or left wrist.
- Wear it over your heart. Another basic principle in wearing corsages is to pin it right over your heart or about four inches below the top of your shoulder.
- Bloom side out, stem pointing down. Make sure the corsage stays in this position, as it would look sloppy when the stem is pointing anywhere else but down. The ribbon should align nicely with the cut of your dress or blouse, otherwise it would look lopsided and unsightly.
Pinning a Corsage the ‘Right’ Way
It’s important to pin your corsage carefully so as to ensure that it will stay in place during the event without falling off. Here are some easy tips on pinning a corsage the ‘right way’.
- Prepare one or two pins – Most corsages already come with one pin attached to it, but be warned that some might be too big or too heavy to be secured in place by just a single pin. To be safe, have two good pins on hand.
- Hold the corsage firmly in place – Using your thumb as a place holder, make sure the corsage is positioned right where you want it to go. The last thing you want to do is to get the position wrong when you’ve already made pin holes in your garment which could easily be seen.
- Turn the lapel over with the corsage still in place – If you’re wearing a blazer over your dress or blouse, you can simply turn the fabric over so you can pin the corsage in place easily. Otherwise, you have no choice but to pin it carefully right side out.
- Carefully weave the pin through your garment and the corsage stem – For this final step, carefully insert the pin horizontally across the garment, weaving it through the corsage while making as few holes in your clothes as possible. Pin it in place and make sure the end of the pin is nowhere near your skin or you’ll risk getting poked.
- Give it a few shakes – Remember that you’ll most likely be moving around a lot, especially if you go dancing so to make sure the corsage will stay put, give it a few shakes after pinning it. If it seems unsecure to you, weave through a second pin in the same way as the first one until you’re sure that it’s safely in place.
Now that you know all the basic rules on how to pick the right corsage and how to wear it, it’s time to decide whether you want to keep it traditional or spice things up a bit. You can do this by incorporating your own style and design. After all, the decision is up to you and you can wear your corsage in the best way you see fit.