A boutonniere is technically a floral-adorned pin that is affixed to a suit jacket’s left lapel. These small bunches of flowers are usually reserved for VIPs, but as you plan for your big day, you might find yourself asking: Who wears a boutonniere at a wedding? We’ve compiled a list of the most likely candidates to receive boutonnieres. Still, we recommend discussing this with your florist to ensure you honour the right people—and don’t blow your budget (boutonnieres can be time-consuming to make and pricey, so choose wisely!).
These days, wearing a boutonniere is all about looking great. The tradition itself, however, was born in Medieval times for a much different reason. Back then, men in the singles market weren’t stockbrokers or computer technicians. They were knights in shining armour – literally! As a token of affection, a female admirer would give a knight something to wear into battle, like a scarf or flower. The colour of the given gift was almost always the same colour as what the woman herself wore. The tradition was known as “wearing a lady’s colors” because of this. By sporting the gift, a knight clearly showed he was supported in battle by a lady who adored him.
The groom and his groomsmen use this technique nowadays to demonstrate their ties to the bride and bridal party. However, with all the options available for present-day couples, it is completely acceptable to go without a traditional flower boutonniere. Check out some fun boutonniere styles that our grooms (and even a bride!) have donned for their big day!
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Where It All Began
It turns out that this particular fashion statement was not necessarily designed to be a torture test for you and your loved ones. And actually, has a wealth of meaning behind it.
Of course, we don’t know for sure, where this idea of wearing a flower on your chest began. Still, there is some speculation that it began with the Egyptians and/or the Aztecs who wore certain coloured blossoms at sporting events to show off their support for their favourite players. So this began as long as 2000 BCor 4000 years ago.
Of course, there was a much better reason to wear flowers, and that was to attract the ladies. Flowers smell good and as any young dandy knows smelling good can make a world of difference.
Then through the centuries on a more serious note, the flower came to represent not so much whose side you were on at a sporting match, but whose side you were on during the war.
Modern-day historians state the origins of the boutonniere begins with the War of the Roses. During this significant campaign battle, the House of York was represented with the white rose, while the soldiers for the House of Lancaster wore red roses. As modern military clothing was not available during this time, most soldier’s outfits from the same area appeared similar and required something to differentiate which side they represented. At least that is the story that you will find when you go to the site after site on the internet. But They Are Wrong!!
The Real History Of The Boutonniere
It turns out, from the time of the Knights, that crests, not flowers, were the important indicator of who you were and hence what side you were on.
But there were flowers involved. Just not real ones, can you possibly imagine the ludicrous image of daily rose deliveries?! Wagonful after wagonful of roses delivered into the battlefields, each commander unable to charge into battle until each soldier had received and then carefully pinned his daily flower to his lapel. And can you imagine what those poor flowers would have looked like at the end of the day? It was these images that had me scrambling to look into this idea further after reading at website after website that supposedly soldiers used the boutonniere during the War of the Roses.
Things to Know About Boutonnières
Wearing Your Heart on Your Sleeve
The tradition of boutonniéres goes way back in history and is deeper than I can delve into here; however, a few thoughts would be helpful. The tradition is rooted in the Middle Ages when knights would enter competitions or go into battle. At that time, it was customary for their “true loves” to give them a scarf or a ribbon that they tied around their sleeve. Wearing this item was a declaration of love and affection for all the world to see. They were in fact “wearing their heart on their sleeve”. Later the practice evolved that brides would break a flower out of their wedding bouquet and present it to their groom on the day of their wedding. The groom would wear it and does wear, with the same heartfelt sentiment that drove knights to declare their love. A boutonniere is not just a decoration. It actually has a very romantic tradition associated with it.
Always something from the Bridal Bouquet
Given the tradition of the boutonniere, you can now understand that the boutonniere is generally always made from something from the bride’s bouquet. If she carries roses, the groom wears one of her roses. If she carries Calla Lilies, he wears a Calla Lilly boutonniere. It is seldom that brides do not follow this custom, although I cannot say all brides conform to this practice. In the same way that a groom’s boutonniere is made from a flower used in the bridal bouquet, the groomsmen generally have flowers that are made from the flowers in the attendant’s bouquet.
With all of this said, if your wedding is a military wedding, those wearing uniforms do not wear boutonnieres at all.
Cost $6-$30, with $10 to $15 being average
PFB105largeFor the most part, a single carnation boutonniere is around $6, a rose is about $9, and a single Calla Lily is around $20. Again, that is our pricing. I have seen a bride with estimates that the price rose boutonnieres out at $15 to $20. Remember a boutonniere is a flower from the bridal bouquet — A FLOWER. It is not in itself a bouquet. Most men do not want to wear a large cluster of flowers on their lapel. In fact, a lot of grooms have trouble agreeing to wear a flower at all. So moderation is good here. With that said you can do a mixed flower design that clusters some smaller flowers together. The result is boutonniere no larger than a single carnation or rose, but that is unique to you.
Check out our exclusive list of Wedding Flower Shops here.
Just because it is a small item that does not mean a boutonniere should have less attention to detail than a bridal bouquet. We finish all our boutonnieres to match the finish on the bouquets. If the bride’s bouquet is finished with white satin and a wire detail, we finish the boutonniere the same way. You can also add rhinestones, pearls, or feathers to you boutonnieres to pick up similar details in your bouquet. Every Bouquet is a little different, and a good Bridal Consultant can help you with the finishing details.
Finally, you can also avoid the boutonniere pins with magnetic holders. These are available in many styles and cost anywhere from $10-to $20 depending on how ornate you want them. The boutonniere is placed into the holder, and a magnet secures it to the clothing. I will say they are nice to work with and alleviate a lot of stress in the moments before a wedding. However, they can cost as much or more than the boutonnieres themselves.
Not all flowers hold up well
Despite what you may see as you look at pictures of flowers, not all flowers hold up well when made into boutonnieres. A lot of times, the things you see in magazines and on Pinterest, are just made for the photograph. Lilies, gerbera daisies, sunflowers, some orchids, hydrangea, just do not hold up once they are made into a boutonniere. Not to mention also that some flowers are just too big to make into a boutonniere. A good Bridal Consultant can help you select something that will hold up and be appropriate for your wedding.
Check out our post on Why does a flower girl throw petals?
Corsage and Boutonniere Étiquette
Florals are a huge part of a couple’s wedding day. Brides sometimes spend hours figuring out exactly which blooms they want in their bridal bouquet, and garlands, centrepieces and other arrangements are all vital aspects of the ceremony and reception decor. But there’s one facet of wedding florals that sometimes leaves engaged couples a bit confused: Which members of the wedding party and guest list should have bouquets, boutonnieres or corsages? If you’re planning your wedding, here’s a quick etiquette guide to these particular floral arrangements:
The only people who should carry bouquets are the bride and her attendants. Typically, the bridesmaids’ bouquets are smaller versions of the bride’s, although you can work with your florist to design arrangements that make the most sense for your wedding. The flower girl sometimes carries a small bouquet in place of a basket of petals, and many brides like to have her wear a flower crown or corsage as well.
To complement the bouquets of the bride and bridesmaids, the groom and his attendants wear boutonnieres. These typically contain a single focal flower that matches those in the bouquets. The ring bearer, officiant and ushers also usually wear boutonnieres, as do fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers and other male members of the couple’s immediate family.
Usually, the mothers and grandmothers of the bride and groom wear corsages that match their dresses. Corsages are also sometimes worn by other female family members.
Don’t Be Afraid to Change Things Up
Keep in mind that besides the bride, groom and their respective attendants, there are no hard-and-fast guidelines when it comes to who wears what types of floral arrangements. If you want to honour certain guests by letting them wear corsages or boutonnieres, that’s totally OK – it’s up to you and your soon-to-be spouse. Work with your florist to figure out how many bouquets, boutonnieres and corsages you’ll need.
Make it Equal
If you decide to have your family members wear corsages and boutonnieres, make sure that everyone is included. You don’t want your sisters to be adorned with flowers and the groom’s brothers to be left out, for instance. If you’d rather keep things simple, it’s typical for just the mothers and fathers to don corsages and boutonnieres.
A local florist can help you with any of your wedding day needs, including simply answering questions and helping you as you choose flowers and design arrangements.
Wondering who wears a boutonniere at a wedding? Here’s your go-to list.
When thinking about who wears a boutonniere at a wedding, the groom or grooms should be at the top of the list. The groom’s boutonniere may be different and perhaps more elaborate or intricate than the other boutonniere-wearers’ arrangements so that he can truly stand out from the crowd. While floral boutonnieres are most common for a groom, we’ve also seen more creative boutonnieres featuring Legos, golf tees, action figures, feathers, guitar picks, pinwheels, and more. This is a great way for a groom to show off his personality and interests.
It also should be noted that, traditionally, the groom pays for the men’s boutonnieres. However, if the bride’s family is paying for the florist’s services, they may choose to pay for all flower arrangements, including boutonnieres.
Groomsmen and Bridesmen
The groomsmen and best man have important roles to play on the wedding day. A boutonniere is not only a colourful accessory, but it’s also a lovely way for the groom to thank his best guys. The groomsmen’s boutonnieres should complement the wedding’s colour scheme as well as the groomsmen’s attire, so be sure to give your florist an accurate count so that no one is left out. The best man may receive a boutonniere than different from the rest of the groomsmen to identify his extra-special job.
If your wedding party includes bridesmen (men who are on the bride’s side), they too should receive boutonnieres, perhaps featuring different colours or flowers than the groomsman’s boutonnieres. Groomswomen or groomsmaids may wear pin-on or wrist corsages, or carry their own bouquets.
Another important note: Be aware that pinning a boutonniere to a lapel can be tricky, so it might be worth asking your wedding party members to practice this task beforehand to minimize panic on the big day.
Fathers and Stepfathers of the Couple
If you’re planning out who wears a boutonniere to your wedding, don’t forget about dear ol’ Dad! Fathers of the bride and groom, as well as stepfathers, should all be given boutonnieres to wear. Make sure that your wedding photographer and videographer are present when you present your father with his boutonniere, and help him fasten it to his lapel. Even the most serious of dads will get emotional during this special moment—and it’s sure to be a sweet photo op!
Grandfathers of the Couple
For those fortunate enough to have a grandfather or grandfathers attending their wedding, be sure to gift them a boutonniere to show how grateful you are for their presence. Try to make the time to give your grandpa his boutonniere in person—he’s sure to be delighted by this special accessory.
Your littlest attendant shouldn’t be forgotten among those who will receive a boutonniere from wearing on the big day. Ring bearers’ boutonniere should be scaled-down versions of the groom’s or groomsmen’s boutonnieres so he’ll fit right in with the rest of the wedding party.
While ushers aren’t technically part of the wedding party, they still have an essential role to play. Boutonnieres are not only pretty to look at, but they’ll also identify your ushers as point people for guests with seating questions or special needs. If possible, your ushers’ boutonnieres should vary (even slightly) from those your groomsmen are sporting.
Your wedding officiant may also wear a boutonniere. If your officiant is not a religious official and will be wearing secular attire like a suit, he should be given a boutonniere. However, certain religious officiants wearing traditional dress may not wish to wear a boutonniere so that you might ask for his preference.
Other Immediate Family Members and VIPs
Who else wears a boutonniere to a wedding? Boutonnieres may be worn by anyone who you and your future spouse feel deserve a little extra love. This can include ceremony readers, other immediate family members who may not be in the wedding party, and more. Work with your florist to determine proper wedding boutonniere etiquette for your specific event and budget.
Your idea of “simple” may not actually be simple
There may be more costs involved than you realize, and you may find that doing something else instead would be more cost-effective. So, just be open to suggestions from your wedding vendors.
With that being said, let’s answer your question. Do you need boutonnieres?
The answer is no.
It’s not mandatory just like flowers in general, are not mandatory. Yes, you’ll typically see boutonnieres at weddings, but you don’t have to have them.
In case you aren’t familiar, boutonnieres are pinned to a suit or tux lapel, so they’re typically for men. You’ll usually see them on the groom, groomsmen and any other men you want to call out.
Some women can have a pin-on boutonniere as well as mothers or grandmothers. But, you definitely don’t have to these either.
If you don’t feel the need to give the men or family any flowers, then you certainly don’t have to have boutonnieres. You can create a non-flower boutonniere instead or just do nothing at all. It’s totally up to you!