Wedding corsages are a very old tradition and, like many other old wedding traditions, it’s not always clear why we have them or how they fit in to the big day. Does every woman attending the wedding receive a corsage? Is it the responsibility of the bride and groom to provide the corsages? Must the corsages be a certain type of flower (or, for that matter, made of flowers at all)? Luckily, corsages aren’t hard to figure out, once you have a few facts straight.
First, corsages are, indeed, the responsibility of the bride and groom. That means that if your parents or another party will be paying for your floral, you’re theoretically supposed to make arrangements to pay for the corsages separately. Of course, whether or not most people do this is up for grabs, since it’s one of those wedding details that tends to just fall into the background, but if you wanted to follow traditional wedding etiquette to the letter, the bride and groom should indeed be paying for the corsages.
Second, it isn’t necessary to give every woman that attends the wedding a corsage. In fact, if you were to do so, it would likely be a surprising (albeit lovely) decision, since decorating all wedding guests with corsages is a tradition that went out of fashion about two hundred years ago. These days, only special members of the wedding party receive corsages. For most weddings, that includes the mothers of the bride and the groom, as well as any other women that you’d like to recognize with a special gesture (such as grandmothers, favorite aunts, sisters, etc.).
What the corsages look like is up to you, although you may want to find out what the women will be wearing, so you can coordinate the corsages accordingly. Most people simply coordinate the corsages with the rest of the wedding flowers, since that’s easier for the florist and creates a continuous floral theme throughout the event. Although corsages are traditionally made of fresh flowers, you can also use artificial flowers or even create a modern take on the corsage by creating a wearable arrangement out of ribbon, felt, or any other material. This is a good option for couples who aren’t having any other floral at the wedding.
No matter what the corsage is made of, it’s usually pinned at the left shoulder of the woman’s dress. If the corsage is heavy or the dress is made of a delicate fabric, the woman could pin it to her purse, but in that situation you may want to make sure that there’s a strap or ribbon attached so that the woman has the option of wearing it as a wrist corsage. If none of those options are appealing, you can have the woman carry a small nosegay instead of a corsage, but this substitution is fairly dated and might not translate well in a modern wedding.
Finally, don’t forget to include boutonnières for the fathers of the bride and groom, as well as any other special male relatives that you’d like to recognize. The boutonnieres don’t necessarily need to match the corsages. In fact, they are usually arranged to match the boutonnieres that the groom’s attendants are wearing, even if they are being given to male members on the bride’s side.