What Is a Wedding Buttonhole?
A buttonhole, also known as a boutonniere, is basically a smaller version of a wedding bouquet. Don’t worry, they’re not as extravagant as the handheld arrangements – they’re quite modest in size because they rest on the lapel of a jacket or blazer (they can be stuck through a buttonhole – hence the name – or pinned atop the lapel). Typically, they are composed of a single flower or a small collection of flowers and/or decorative accents.
The origins of the Buttonhole
The tradition of wedding buttonholes, as with all wedding flowers, originates from ancient Greece.
The male wedding party members would wear a small bunch of flowers, usually mixed with fragrant herbs, pinned close to their hearts in order to ward off evil spirits. It was believed that these evil spirits would cause the groom to turn his heart against the bride and refuse to love her.
Buttonholes travelled to England during Medieval times. Knights of the realm would wear their lady’s colours upon their chest to show their everlasting love and commitment.
Even without their armour, these colours would be displayed on their left lapel. Just as they are still worn by grooms today
Types of Buttonholes
Traditionally it is designed to co-ordinate with the bride’s bouquet. But for grooms that want to put their own twist on things here are some ideas.
- Paper flowers made from old books
- Feathers in coordinating colours
- Flowers arranged in a jacket pocket instead of a hanky
- Dried flowers
- Chillies or other fruit/veg
- Pinecones, acorns and seed-heads
- Lego figures, playing cards and other playful items that reflect the groom’s personality
How do you wear it?
The groom and any other men wearing buttonholes should wear them on their left with the flowers facing upwards.
Mothers of the bride and groom and female wedding guests should wear their buttonholes on the right and with the flowers facing downwards. The same goes for corsages, they should be worn on the right.
The groom will often have a slightly more elaborate buttonhole than the rest of the male guests (it is his day too after all!). Likewise, the mothers of the bride and groom will normally have larger floral decorations than other female guests to signify their status in the wedding party.
When I am photographing getting ready preparations or meeting the groom at the ceremony venue I will always check and offer to help make sure their buttonholes are wedding-ready. It’s all part of the JB Moments Photography service 🙂