Prom Etiquette – Corsages and Boutonnieres

It is customary to give your date a corsage or boutonniere when attending the prom. Ladies wear a corsage, gentlemen wear a boutonniere.

This tradition comes from a time period, long ago, when flowers were worn to make one smell heavenly while dancing with a partner. Frequent showers, expensive perfumes, and air conditioning were rare if available at all.

Ideally, it is nice to match the flowers to the prom attire so the colors do not clash. If the colors unfortunately do not match, you must wear them if they were given to you. In such a circumstance, the lady may choose to wear the corsage on her wrist by attaching it to a ribbon or pinned to her evening bag. No matter where you choose to wear the flowers, graciously thank your date and make no mention of the mismatch. Doing so would hurt their feelings.

Corsages and boutonnieres are worn on the left shoulder or lapel with the stem pointed downward.

If the lady is wearing a dress with spaghetti straps or no straps, the corsage may be placed on the left side of the top of the bodice, on the left side of her waist, on her left wrist, or pinned to her evening bag.  Pictured is a wrist corsage from Teleflora.

When pinning a corsage or boutonniere on, the pin goes into the fabric on the left side of the flower as you’re facing it, back up through the fabric on the left side, over the stem of the flower at an angle, down through the fabric on the right side of the flower as you’re facing it and back up through the fabric on the right side with the point of the pin hidden under the flower. Use two pins in an X formation if the flowers are unusually heavy. The pin will always go over the stem of the flower, never through it.

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18 Responses to Prom Etiquette – Corsages and Boutonnieres

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  2. Katie Daniel says:

    k..i agree with you…but can you give us more details about this subject?…thanks 🙂

  3. should you wear a boutonniere to prom if you are going alone?

    • Cathy says:

      My niece went to the prom without a date and her mom and dad got her a corsage. At the prom their where guys who also went stagg and they too wore a yes no matter with or without a date flowers are still worn.

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  5. jide says:

    thanks.not commenting on the color clash may help in hiding some tension that may likely brew up.

  6. jide says:

    Also some flower which might cause allergic reaction or hiccups should be can learn more at

  7. Tracy says:

    I know this is an old post but am hopeful for a response. I assume my daughter’s date will be getting her a corsage since he is really a gentlemen and even given her color chips from Home Depot to get the correct color of her dress so he can match. I also assume we buy his bouttaneiere…Is it important to match flowers? Everything seems so secret…should I buy both an orchid and a rose bouttaneire and give him the appropriate one when we see hers?

  8. Sandy Hyde says:

    The corsage and boutonniere do not need to match for a prom. You and your daughter should select a boutonniere you feel is appropriate. You may choose to select a color to compliment the color of her gown.

    Roses or carnations make lovely boutonnieres. An orchid is beautiful and fragrant, but may be a delicate choice for this type of occasion with the amount of activity that takes place. It’s always best to consult with your local florist.

    The presentation of a corsage or boutonniere is the same as giving a gift. It’s the thought that counts, not the color or the content.

  9. Tracy says:

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. I agree with your opinion and sentiments. Next stop – florist!

    Thanks again, Tracy.

  10. Shelley says:

    wow~~ thank you very much for your advice, they are helpful. and I believe these corsages are the best to match WeddingCountdown prom dresses online.

  11. Marian says:

    I’m just sick! My son received his First Communion on Sat. He and his friends had . boutonnieres. I knew it went on his left lapel, a friend put it on his right lapel. NO ONE, out of 20 of my personal guests said anything, or didn’t notice. I ficnt notice! Now I noticed in the group picture that it’s on the wrong side! I feel sick. I need someone to tell me it’s ok, because he’s only nine, and I’m not the worlds worst mother for not noticing. I did research that it’s ok on the right if you are single , true? He would fall under that category, it’s a stretch ! Thanks! Please ease my guilt…

    • Sandy Hyde says:

      It was lovely your son had a boutonniere for this special occasion. Many people cannot afford this small luxury. I’m sure he is proud of his accomplishment. Be proud and happy as well. What’s done is done. The position of the boutonniere is not important to the significance of the day. Learn to forgive yourself over such a small detail you were not responsible for.

    • Its My Business says:

      It’s OK – the Boutonniere and the wristlet or corsage SHOULD be worn on the left lapel or the left hand or left side of the dress. This allows the men to shake hands (using their right hand of course) and the boutonniere is visible and not damaged. Similarly, the wristlet or corsage should also be worn on the left shoulder, left hand, or attached to a small purse that might be carried to an event. It’s horrifying to me that the flowers do not match. Pick out a color in the dress and go to your favorite florist and have them arrange something wonderful that matches. There is nothing worse than having the lady in a great wristlet with a lovely design and having the gentleman show in a single rose. It’s very easy to do. My kids have been to so many dances, proms, gatherings, etc, that they actually have me do the flowers for them. Each will come in its own separate box and bow, so that they can present them as gifts to each other before the occasion. Bottom line is, if they wear them on the left side, no worries, it’s just not right. I can promise you the flowers come off and are set on the table once they start dancing anyway. But for pictures, the above is etiquette. Always on the right. For pictures, the lady always stand to the right of the gentleman to show off both sets of flowers.

      • Its My Business says:

        meant to say – “Bottom line is, if they wear them on the RIGHT side, no worries, it’s just not right.”

        Don’t stress over. He’s only 9 and now you know. Flowers ALWAYS on the left.

        Congratulations by the way!

    • Tracy says:

      God Bless you and your son on his first communion! He is so lucky to have a mom that cares, and 20 guests, WOW. Pat yourself on the back for raising a Godly family, that is the true gift he will have for eternity, and knowing his mom cares enough to buy him a suit and flower.

  12. Dear Marian, I think you are a wonderful mother for being so concerned about the position of your son’s boutonniere; not because of the mistake, per se, but because how it will make your son feel. But, in years to come I hope you both look at this photo and laugh fondly at the situation. What is more important is that going forward you will know about such details and teach your son the fine points of etiquette, which will become increasingly important as he grows older. For now, exhibiting kindness towards others and building confidence in himself are more important than the boutonniere. Let him know how proud you are of him, and if he — or anyone — comments on the boutonniere being on the wrong side when they look at the photo, simply respond that he is a standout among his peers and this just proves it! Keep your sense of humor and put everything in perspective.

  13. Coralyn says:

    Thanks so much especially for the wrist corsage info. As the Mother of the bride this is what I requested as I’m wearing a rather thin strapped dress and did not want the dress to look as if it only had 1 strap. That is just what would happen if I wore a corsage, yet I did not want to wear it at the waist. There are too many different colors in my dress. Yet my daughter and I had no idea as the correct way to wear a wrist corsage. Thanks for the info!

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