When you picture a wedding, what do you see? A long romantic aisle, family and friends on either side, a bride in her gown, holding a bouquet? Look closer. She isn’t the only one sporting flowers.
There’s a man up there, baring his soul and delivering his vows, with an equally important floral accessory pinned to his chest: a boutonnière. Though it’s not as large as a bouquet, which can make it feel like an afterthought, the boutonnière can be an impactful touch that gives your big day a distinctive flair.
But what is a boutonnière? Who typically wears one and how do I pick the right one? Great questions—let’s dive in, shall we?
What Is a Boutonnière?
A boutonnière is a small cluster of flowers, sometimes just a single bloom, pinned to the jacket lapel of key men in the wedding party to connect them with the overall aesthetic. The floral elements of a boutonnière distill the palette from the rest of the wedding, giving everything a cohesive look.
The groom doesn’t have to be the only person wearing a boutonnière. His may be the most extravagant, but you’ll notice one on each of his groomsmen and probably on the dads. It can be an unspoken way to signify who among your guests is a member of the wedding party. It also lets those special people know you couldn’t imagine this day without them.
PRO TIP: It’s never a bad idea to have a backup boutonnière or two, because they’re worn right in the hot zone for hugs, and they can take a real beating on the big day.
Who Chooses the Boutonnière?
Short answer: anyone! While tradition has dictated that women hold the reins on floral decision making, flowers and floral arrangements aren’t strictly feminine. It’s not unheard of for men to chime in, or even have strong opinions.
And it’s not just men for whom the boutonnière is the embellishment of choice! Couples along the entire spectrum of gender identities and expressions may go for the more masculine, less frilly floral accoutrement. Consider a wedding with two grooms. With neither spouse carrying a bouquet, it’s all the more important that the boutonnière get the attention it deserves.
Flowers themselves have male and female components. So fellas, get in on the fun!
What Are the Components of a Boutonnière?
A boutonnière isn’t made up of much in the way of supplies. You’ll typically see some version of the same few things:
- Main floral element: There’ll always be a main floral element to really grab the eye. We’ll dive deeper into the options. The possibilities are so seemingly endless, it’ll take an entire section.
- Secondary elements: There are always secondary elements, like greens, berries, and small buds to accompany the main bloom. These add texture and visual interest.
- Hidden structure: Your florist might use some hidden structure to provide integrity so it’ll last the entire day. They might use wire to fortify the stems, especially in the case of more delicate flowers, or to help direct the bloom to face front. We use this wire from Oasis.
PRO TIP: It may not seem pivotal, but give the ribbon some thought. From the color to the texture to the size, it can link to the bride’s bouquet or coordinate perfectly with the suit. Is it velvet, grosgrain, or satin? Is it tied in a symmetrical bow or a charming half bow, with one loop and two tails of slightly different lengths? We love a tight double knot, for that effortlessly polished look.
How To Choose the Main Flowers of a Boutonnière
Now for the star of the show: the flower. It should be beautiful. It should be relatively hearty. It doesn’t hurt if it smells great, since you’ll wear it around on your chest all day. There are some obvious contenders, and some varieties that might surprise you.
So, let’s consider some options:
- The Classic – Let’s not say that the classic single rose with baby’s breath and fern is altogether out. But it certainly has given way to other options that have come into fashion. First of all, one really big bloom can be front-heavy and yank the jacket lopsided. These other types lend themselves more to the task.
- The Romantic – Ranunculus just says romance. Packed with soft petal, and available in a variety of colors from delicate white to sherbet to deep burgundy, it just does the job.
- The Modern – Blushing Bride, despite the obviously feminine name, is perfect. Its unusual star shape makes it a great choice for modern weddings. And it comes in a foolproof, select range of colors from ivory to pale pink.
- The Perfect for Everything – Scabiosa is a versatile one. Most of the time, it’s got irregular, frilly petals, reminiscent of a tutu, particularly in pink. But it also comes in ruby red, blue, and even black. And the scabiosa pod has a different character entirely, perfect for a highly unique boutonnière.
- The Statement Piece – Lisianthus is a real MVP. Its elegant roselike bloom just doesn’t disappoint. The glorious, white Japanese lisianthus really says, “Wow!” You could also go more understated, from cream to purple to brown.
- The Game Changer – Hellebores, to save the best for last, are game changers! From one plant, you can get an incredible bloom, buds, and greenery. You can find this special flower in ghostly white, good old green, or midnight black. Trust us, look into this one.
As for complementary elements, you’ve got dazzlers like Silver Brunia, Astilbe, or Wax Flower. Fill out your boutonnière with greens like Olive, Italian Ruscus, or Eucalyptus, which comes in an astonishing variety.
PRO TIP: Steer clear of berries or anything that could squish and stain.
How To Wear a Boutonnière
Just pin it on, right? Yeah, it seems like common sense, but a couple of pointers can’t hurt, so you can be confident your boutonnière will stay put.
What you wear is up to you. But flowers do have weight, so we think it’s best to go with a garment that has some structure, like a jacket or at least a vest. Pinning to a cotton shirt, for example, can lead to drooping.
It’s possible to get it on with just one pin, but there’s no shame in using two. Any straight pin will do, since, ideally, nobody will see it. But if you want to have a luxurious little secret, choose one with a pearlized head.
Place the boutonnière centered against the left lapel, under the notch—essentially, over the heart.
Flip the lapel, and stick the pin through the fabric, away from the wearer. Push it through the meaty part of the boutonnière to get a good grip.
Make sure to stab the tip of the pin back through the fabric, so it’s completely hidden. You won’t want it to poke your dance partner.
Finally, lay the lapel back down and go enjoy the best day of your life!