How to Pick the Right Corsage Flower for a School Dance, According to an Expert

When it comes to a school dance, there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle of putting together your perfect ensemble.

The corsage is one essential element that often goes overlooked and put off to the very last minute. Where do you even start when it comes to picking the flower that'll be exactly right for you? We needed advice, so we went straight to an expert for advice.

We got the chance to ask Christina Stembel, founder and CEO of Farmgirl Flowers, for her top tips on picking the perfect corsage flower, and the pros and cons of some of the most popular choices. Keep reading to see what she had to say.

On Picking a Corsage Flower:

"While the language of flowers has been around for centuries in cultures across the world, the one that we draw most heavily from in contemporary culture here in the U.S. comes from the Victorian era. This is where the whole "red rose equals romantic love" idea got cemented. And while, as the CEO and Founder and a floral company, I love the idea of speaking in flowers, I have to say that I think it's time to let go of most of these connotations.

The really great thing about big events like formals and prom is that they're memories you get to help make. You spend hours finding the perfect outfit, the perfect shoes, the jewelry and accessories, your hair and makeup. The corsage is another one of these pre-planned details you want to get just right. Why let hundred-plus-year old traditions dictate that? I love the idea of finding a flower you like, falling in love with it and wearing it to your big night. Every time you see that flower (or better yet, buy a bunch for yourself) after that you'll be reminded of all the memories you made that night."

-Christina Stembel

Shutterstock: Three girls showing off prom corsages in photo

(via Shutterstock)


On Roses:

"Traditionally, roses are a romantic flower. Different colors (read: not red) can help to mitigate this a little bit, but thanks to the Victorians and hundreds of years of marketing to guys on Valentine's Day, it's pretty much hard not to associate these flowers with L-O-V-E.

If you're in love with roses and want to look for something that feels a little less serious than crimson, go for white, blush or taupe blooms. I'd also suggest going a step further and avoiding modern roses and going for a garden rose instead. Garden roses tend to have more petals than modern varieties and, at least I think, can look a little more original. This is the perfect time to stand out—why pick a corsage that will blend in with the others?"

-Christina Stembel


On Carnations:

"Carnations get a really, really bad rap. For most people, they're less associated with a particular feeling or meaning and more associated with really, really bad arrangements from the 1980s. And while I totally get that, I think with some careful styling carnations can be a really amazing option for a corsage.

Why? Carnations are incredibly hearty. The tough thing about corsages is that most have to be made without a water source. And, for most cut stems, once they're out of water they're beginning to wilt, so you're on the clock to get your photos taken while your flower is still looking camera-ready. Carnations are one of the rare flowers that do exceptionally well out of water. Any wilting, at least that happens in the course of an evening, is minimal and much less noticeable than more fragile flowers.

My tips for making sure you look more 2020 than 1982? Make sure your florist is working with carnations that are fully bloomed. When they're tighter and more budded, carnations tend to read a little Frankenstein (read: flat-topped). When they're open, though, it's another story. I also suggest opting for a special variety. There are some beautiful antiqued options and others in soft blushes that I think would be a beautiful focal flower for a corsage."

-Christina Stembel


On Orchids:

"Traditionally, orchids are associated with luxury and elegance. And I feel like that feels pretty on the money. I think there are few flowers that feel as luxe with only a few stems when they're styled all on their own in a vase.

I find orchids to be a little finicky for corsages and other personals. Because their blooms tend to be a little more ornate as well, I think they're more easily smushed throughout the course of an evening spent dancing or hanging out with friends. That said, if you're more about the photo opps than the dancefloor, then I think an orchid could be a great, more original choice for your corsage!"

-Christina Stembel

shutterstock: Ladies Floral Corsage of White Dendrobium Orchids and Decorative Materials. Wedding Flowers.

(via Shutterstock)


On Lilies:

"Lilies are one of those flowers that I feel get a little lost in translation in the Victorian language of flowers. And, more contemporarily speaking, they're also about as polarizing as carnations. Some people love them (especially the scented varieties) and some people hate them.

As corsages go, these are not my top pick due to the size and fragility of their petals, but if these are your top pick, then wear them with caution—and maybe leave your corsage on the table before heading to the dancefloor."

-Christina Stembel


On Ranunculus:

"These aren't as well known as other flowers,  but they're a beautiful, hearty option that all of our designers here at Farmgirl love for personals. Ranunculus, like carnations, fare well out of water, making them a great option for corsages. They also come in pretty much every
color under the sun, so it's easy to find something that will complement your outfit.

My favorite? Hanoi ranunculus. This variety is super-sized (three or four or even five times larger than standard varieties) and is the prettiest shade of blush. I think it's a universal color match and, especially since it's a lesser-known option for personals, is a great pick if you're looking to set the trends (instead of following them) for prom or formal."

-Christina Stembel

shutterstock: ranunculus pink flower corsage

(via Shutterstock)


Other Things to Keep in Mind:

"Think beyond the itchy elastic! At Farmgirl, we make some corsages on sizeable brass cuffs. The finished corsage looks a little more like floral jewelry than a personal and you won't spend the evening scratching your wrist!

Last, don't forget to have fun with it! Prom or formal are going to be some of the most memorable times from high school. It's easy to feel overwhelmed by all the things you need to take care of or making sure it's perfect, but in the end, the dance will come and go whether everything on your to-do list is checked off (or not)! If you're getting caught up in the details, remember to take a breath and remind yourself to enjoy not only the dance, but also the process. Some of my favorite memories for big events like this are from the getting ready part, not the big event itself. If you can, try and enjoy it all!"

-Christina Stembel


Still exploring corsage options? Click HERE for some DIY corsage ideas that won't break the bank.