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Do you wear flowers for graduation?

Graduation is an exciting milestone in life. After years of hard work and dedication, it’s finally time to celebrate your academic achievements. As you prepare for your big day, there are many things to consider – like what to wear under your graduation gown. Some people choose to accessorize with flowers, which can add a nice pop of color and symbolism. But is it necessary or even appropriate to wear flowers to graduation? Let’s explore the pros and cons.

The Meaning Behind Graduation Flowers

First, let’s look at the history and meaning behind wearing flowers for graduation. This tradition dates back to medieval times when graduates would wear flowers symbolizing their knowledge. Carnations represented divinity and spirituality, roses symbolized wisdom, and ivy represented faithfulness and eternal life. These flowers represented the graduate’s growth in knowledge and faith after years of academic study.

In modern times, flowers are still worn at graduations but more as an accessory and less for their symbolic meanings. Graduates may now wear a flower or floral corsages for aesthetic reasons – adding a pop of color to their graduation outfit. Specific flowers like roses and lilies are popular choices. The flower colors can represent school colors or just look pretty with the graduate’s robe. Some graduates may also wear flowers in their hair. For example, many Hawaiian graduates wear leis or flower crowns.

Reasons to Wear Graduation Flowers

There are several good reasons why graduates may want to wear flowers for their graduation ceremony:

  • Adds a pop of color – Flowers brighten up the traditional black graduation gown and cap.
  • Shows school spirit – Wearing school color flowers demonstrates pride in your university.
  • Honors family – Some graduates wear flowers from family gardens or given by parents.
  • Symbol of growth – Flowers can represent the knowledge you’ve gained.
  • Cultural tradition – In some cultures, flowers are part of the graduation outfit.
  • Aesthetic accessory – Flowers simply look nice with graduation attire.

Flowers are a classic graduation accessory that add beauty and meaning to the ceremony. Many graduates want to wear flowers to express their joy on this special occasion.

Reasons Not to Wear Graduation Flowers

While flowers can be a nice touch, there are also some reasons graduates may want to forgo the floral accessories:

  • Cost – Fresh flower corsages, leis, and wreaths can get expensive.
  • Difficulty keeping intact – Delicate flowers may wilt or fall apart during long ceremonies.
  • Can stain or snag robes – Flowers pinned to robes risk damaging the fabric.
  • Allergies – Graduates or guests may be allergic to certain flowers.
  • Distraction – Large elaborate flowers may be distracting on stage.
  • Not allowed – Some graduations prohibit wearing flowers over the gown.

The potential hassle of keeping flowers intact and avoiding damage to attire may make some graduates skip the floral accessories altogether.

Most Popular Graduation Flowers

If you do decide to wear flowers, what are the best options? Here are some of the most popular graduation flowers:

Flower Meaning Notes
Roses Love, Wisdom Classic choice, available in many colors
Lilies Purity, Refinement Large showy blooms, sweet fragrance
Carnations Innocence, Distinction Ruffled petals, affordable option
Tulips Perfect love Come in wide variety of colors
Orchids Beauty, Luxury Exotic and elegant blooms
Chrysanthemums Joy, Longevity Symbol of fall harvest and abundance

Roses are the most traditional flower for graduations given their symbolism of wisdom. But any flower in the graduate’s school colors works well. White flowers also nicely match the graduation gown. The options are endless!

Flower Arrangements to Wear

Now that you’ve selected your flowers, how will you wear them? Here are some popular arrangements for graduates:

  • Wrist Corsage – A mini flower bouquet worn around the wrist. Usually pinned to the gown sleeve.
  • Floral Crown – A ring of flowers worn like a crown around the head. Works well with loose hair styles.
  • Flower Lei – A garland of flowers draped around the neck. Popular for Hawaiian graduations.
  • Boutonniere – A single stem pinned to the graduation gown as a lapel flower.
  • Floral Headband – A metal or fabric headband accented with small flowers.

The corsage is the most traditional option, but flower crowns and leis are also very popular currently. The arrangement you choose may depend on your gown style, hair, and cultural traditions.

Flower Etiquette for Graduations

If you do plan to wear flowers, there are some etiquette guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Don’t wear fragrant flowers that may bother others when seated for long periods.
  • Select flowers in your university’s colors to demonstrate school spirit.
  • Make sure flowers are permitted under your graduation ceremony dress code.
  • Pin on corsages securely so flowers don’t fall off and disrupt the ceremony.
  • Choose appropriate-sized arrangements that don’t hide graduation regalia.
  • Remove flower crowns or floral hair accessories when wearing your cap for diploma presentation.

By following these tips, your floral graduation accessories will add beauty to your special day without causing disruption.


Graduation is complete with the iconic cap and gown, but flowers can be a nice additional touch. They allow graduates to express their personalities and share their joy on this important occasion. While flowers are not required, many graduates enjoy wearing floral accessories like corsages, leis, and crowns. If you decide to accessorize with flowers, just be mindful of size, fragrances, and venue rules. Ultimately, graduations are about celebrating your hard work and achievements. If wearing flowers helps make the day more special for you, go for it!