Wedding Flower Etiquette


Flowers are a beautiful part of almost any wedding. They have been associated with matrimony for thousands of years; flowers symbolize fertility and new beginnings. Like everything about the marriage ceremony, certain guidelines have evolved regarding the use of flowers. Modern etiquette doesn't dictate hard-and-fast rules, but traditional rules are a nice place to look for answers about the "right" way to do things at your wedding, then you can add your own twist.

The Bride

  • Traditionally, the bride's family is responsible for the flowers carried by the maid or matron of honor and the bridesmaids and flower girl. They also supply the floral decorations for the church and reception hall and all corsages (with the exception of those for the mothers and grandmothers of the bride and groom).

The Groom

  • The groom's family is responsible for the boutonnieres for the groom, best man, ushers and groomsmen. The bridal bouquet is customarily a gift from the groom to his wife-to-be, as is her going-away corsage. The groom's family may also send flowers to close family members who can't attend the wedding. If they host the rehearsal dinner, the groom's parents pay for any floral decorations they choose to use.

Who Wears What

  • Corsages are traditionally worn by the mothers and grandmothers of the bride and groom. Many couples also provide smaller corsages for female friends who have volunteered to help at the wedding. It would not be appropriate for hired servers or other employees, but it's a very nice gesture to the woman who has offered to supervise the guest book, do a reading, cut the cake or play the organ. The groom and his attendants wear boutonnieres, and male volunteers may also receive them. There are two exceptions: it's not proper for members of the United States military to wear a boutonniere or corsage while they are in uniform, nor do officiants wear flowers if they are wearing robes.

About Boutonnieres

  • The best man's boutonniere is often a bit fancier than those of the ushers and groomsmen, while the groom's is the most ornate. A boutonniere is traditionally worn on the left lapel of the jacket. It is positioned stem-down over (not in) a buttonhole, if there is one. It is usually pinned from the back of the lapel so that the pin won't show, unless it's a very ornate pin or a boutonniere holder in which case it is pinned from the front.

About Bouquets and Corsages

  • The maid or matron of honor's bouquet will often be slightly different to set her apart from the bridesmaids, but not nearly as elaborate as the bride's bouquet. Like boutonnieres, corsages are traditionally worn on the left side because it was believed to be above the heart. Pin the corsage at a slight angle, about four inches from the left shoulder. Wrist corsages likewise should be worn on the left side.

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