When it comes to wedding flowers, a lot of the attention goes to women’s bouquets. But let’s not forget about the classy boutonnières sported by men. Today we’re sharing the history of this floral accessory and some tips on how to wear it on your big day!
The word boutonnière is French for “button hole,” so it technically refers to the actual hole in a suit. But in the US, we’ve adapted the meaning of boutonnière to refer to the flowers a man wears on his lapel. Similarly, in the UK, they’re called “buttonhole flowers.” Have you ever wondered about the origin of this term and why men’s suits have an extra button hole on the left lapel? Read on!
There are numerous theories about how the boutonnière got its start. But our favorite story dates back to 1840 London at the wedding of Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. It’s said that Victoria gifted Albert with a small bouquet of flowers on their wedding day. In true gentleman form and as a symbol of his affection, Albert grabbed a knife and cut a small hole in his jacket, so he could wear the flowers. After that point, his tailor started to include a small hole in the left lapel of all of is jackets. And society followed suit. (pun intended!)
Take a close look at men’s suits today and you’ll see that most of them (especially high-end and custom styles) include a button hole on the left lapel. Flip over the lapel and you should see a small thread beneath the hole on the backside. This is to hold the flower stems in place. If the button hole on your suit is closed, talk to a tailor about opening it up for you and adding the thread on the back. After all, the hole serves a function and shouldn’t just be a decorative element on your suit.
No button hole? Have no fear! If your suit doesn’t include this detail, it’s common to simply pin the boutonnière on the lapel.
When choosing the flowers for your boutonnière, it’s best to coordinate them with the bridal bouquet. Some grooms prefer to have a design that’s slightly different than the groomsmen. You can easily do this by incorporating a larger or different flower for the groom.
Bigger isn’t better for boutonnières. You want to stick with a small, simple style, so that the flowers aren’t too heavy to stand up straight on the lapel. And, if you’re taking advantage of the button hole, you want to make sure the stems are small enough to fit through the button hole.
As mentioned above, the best option for attaching a boutonnière is using the button hole, if it’s available! Otherwise, you can use one or two pins to attach the flowers. Make sure to pin from the backside of the lapel, through the fabric and downward into the flowers. If you want to have a boutonnière for a young ring bearer, you can request a magnetic style to make attaching it even easier and avoid pin pricks.
Follow these tips and you’ll look like a true gentleman on your wedding day. And if someone comments on your boutonnière, share the story of Albert and Victoria. It’s sure to win you some brownie points with your new in-laws!