How To Make A Corsage

One of the benefits of being a wedding photographer and managing editor of APW is that I get to use a lot of the practical knowledge gained in each profession and bring it to the other. Which means that sometimes I’m coming home from a wedding and telling Meg things like, “There’s a lot of glitter at weddings right now,” while the rest of the time, I’m taking the stuff I learn at APW and seeing how it applies to the real world. (Gotta make sure this information is relevant, right?) A few weeks back, we taught you guys how to make a boutonnière. Believe it or not, that tutorial has been, hands down, one of the most practically useful tutorials we’ve put together yet, and I’ve been putting the tips I learned while making it to use all season. (The pin goes horizontal! Who knew?) So today we’re following up with the boutonnière’s fancier cousin, the corsage. The truth is, if you can make a boutonniere, you can make a corsage (a corsage is really just a boutonnière in its Sunday best). But first things first.

A few of you had asked about flower selection in the comments of the boutonnière how-to, so for today’s post, we wanted to highlight the fact that both the boutonnières and corsages that we made for these tutorials were formulated specifically to survive being made a few days in advance. For the corsage our flower ingredients are:

  • Poppy Pod
  • Pepper Berry
  • Baby’s Breath
In addition to being able to survive being made in advance, these flowers are also very sturdy, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally squishing them in transportation or accidentally ruining them while pinning them on. As for non-floral materials, you’ll need:
  • Ribbon
  • Scissors
  • Floral Wire
  • Floral Tape

The basic structure of your corsage is going to be exactly like a boutonnière, and since we already went over that in detail, we’re going to send you over here to get started, and then have you come back when your corsage is wrapped in floral tape. Now it’s time to make a bow:

To start the corsage bow, take a generous amount of ribbon (about three feet) and cut. You can use any kind of ribbon, but we recommend something lightly wired, which is going to hold its shape a little better. Next, pinch the ribbon between your thumb and forefinger, leaving a few inches hanging down on the end. Then pull the ribbon around your thumb, as pictured above in step three. Once the ribbon is around your thumb, create a loop with the ribbon and pinch it underneath your thumb (for the visual learners in the house who want a video explanation of this step, check out this YouTube tutorial by Expert Village and start at forty-five seconds in). To create the rest of your ribbon, make three loops like this on either side of your thumb, each a little smaller than the one preceding it, pinching the ribbon underneath your thumb each time you make a loop. Once your three loops are made, take some floral wire, and wrap it through the loop that was made around your thumb and twist. If you’ve pinched the ribbon with each loop you’ve made, the floral wire will wrap around the pinched part and secure everything in place. Then take a boutonnière pin and stick it through your bow and up into the poppy pod to hide it.

A few more expert tips:

  • If you’re making a corsage for your mom or aunt and they are wearing one of those flowy mother-of-the-bride dresses, keep in mind that their outfits will be a little flimsier than if you’re making a boutonnière for someone wearing a suit. So don’t go overboard. Keep your arrangement light to avoid the corsage pulling on the dress.
  • Once again, the secret to getting your corsage to stay put is to thread the corsage pin horizontally when affixing to your clothes, not vertically. And for especially delicate outfits, try pinning it through the fabric and your bra strap. And if you’re worried about getting stuck by a pin, just put a rubber earring back on the sticky part near your skin.
  • You don’t have to use a bow! We wanted to see what a more modern corsage would look like for someone who wants flowers, but perhaps isn’t quite as frilly as a sheer pink bow. So we took the same floral arrangement and wrapped a bit of bright ribbon around it instead. It’s still pretty, but there’s a bit more edge to it this way.

Photos: Allison Andres / Flowers: Belle-Flower

How To: Make A Boutonnière

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    HELL YES. I just dumped my florist last week (but who am I to say two months is too long for a return call or email?) and now you’ve provided not just boutonnieres but corsages as well. Goddam perfect.

  • Remy

    Neat! Having only ever read about corsages as something your awkward date (or their mom) bought for you to match your prom dress, I had always thought they were only to wear on the wrist! (And why would you want to wear something floral on your wrist? I wondered.) There are smaller and cuter — I really like combination of baby’s breath and pepper berries.

    • MK

      I’m with you: I thought a corsage was worn on the wrist, and a boutonniere on the lapel? If not… I don’t see the difference? A bow?

      • The names come from what they were first worn on. The boutonniere was worn in the buttonhole. The corsage was worn on the…corsage (the bodice).

    • A traditional corsage has three main elements (three flowers plus maybe some other bits), and a traditional boutonniere has one (a single flower with some small bits around it). Also, a bout is less likely to have a froofy bow.

      • MK

        Huh. Thanks! I just had a “the more you know” rainbow moment. Ha.

        • Happy to help educate. :) I get asked this question quite a bit in my line of work.

  • Another hint for a wear-on-the-dress corsage: you can buy magnetic corsage/boutonniere pins at floral supply places, which will a) not put a hole through a flowy dress, and b) help keep a corsage in place, as the magnets are strong and easier to use than traditional pins. They cost a couple of bucks, but could be worth it in the long run.

    • Emmers

      so gooooood to know! thanks for sharing, was totally worrying about pinholes. why do I even worry about this stuff?

  • Riah

    Thank you thank you thank you. We’re doing our own flowers, and weren’t planning on having corsages at all (we’re not doing boutonnieres) but my future step mother in law is insisting. I was thinking of making paper flower corsages, but this gives me another potential option.

    Any suggestions for yellow flowers sturdy enough to last in a corsage? We’re doing sunflowers for everything else, but obviously those are way too huge to pin to the front of a dress.

    • Chrysanthemums and billy balls (craspedia) come in yellow and last well in a corsage. :)

    • Anna

      Also strawflowers dry really well and maintain their color. They are great for corsage/boutonnieres.

      • Riah

        Thanks for this. I was at the farmer’s market last weekend, and they had dried strawflowers on wires instead of stems. I made corsages out of them (3 weeks early! yay dried flowers!) and they are lovely and pretty and not too delicate at all. I probably wouldn’t have stopped to look at them if you hadn’t written this comment, and I’m so glad I did.

  • Anna

    Also, since the point of this post is educational, I find the magenta I.D. graphic very misleading. Besides, the ribbon, none of the images match the name identification below. If we are trying to teach folk about flowers and flower arrangement, I think this attention to detail is important. I’m a flower lady and want everyone to learn!

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