Boutonniere | A Complete and Totally Modern Guide


A Complete and Totally Modern Guide

There are probably few things that will snaz up a tuxedo or a suit better than a nice boutonniere.  Unfortunately, at least for most men--and probably a lot of ladies--that is about all that most know about this tiny dress accessory.  First of all, did you know that the word boutonniere is the French word for "buttonhole"?  If you did, you're already ahead of most people, but if that left you breathless for more knowledge about this formal staple, you're in luck because this little guide was made for you.

A Complete and Totally Modern Guide to the Boutonniere

Q: What is a boutonniere?

A boutonniere is a floral decoration worn by men to accessorize their tuxedo or suit for an event that is a little dressier than the usual.  A boutonniere isn't reserved only for weddings and other formal occasions.  A man might, for example, reserve the use of a boutonniere for Mother's Day or other special events.

Q: Why is it called a boutonniere?

 Simply stated, "boutonniere" is the French word for "buttonhole" because that is where it should be worn.

Q: What is history of the boutonniere

The use of the boutonniere dates back to the 16th century and was designed to ward off bad luck or evil.  The boutonniere could be thought of as the male equivalent of the bridal bouquet, having the same significance and purpose against odors and disease.

Q: When should a boutonniere be worn?

A boutonniere represents the quintessence of masculine luxury, and it makes a positive statement of personal sophistication and luxury.  It is for this reason that a boutonniere can really be worn anytime the wearer considers it appropriate, especially in these days of "anything goes."  The only time when a boutonniere is really not appropriate is when a gentleman is not wearing a jacket.

Q: How to pin on a boutonniere (4 simple steps)

  1. The boutonniere should be positioned at the top of the left lapel, immediately over the buttonhole.  The boutonniere is typically placed lower than the tie, but above the pocket square.
  2. After you have positioned the boutonniere correctly, roll the lapel around the flower stem like a taco.  This should allow you to see the reverse side of the lapel.
  3. Insert a needle in a downward angle, making sure that it passes through both sides of the lapel.  Make sure that the needle sticks through the thickest part of the stem.  It is important to insert the needle at a downward angle to make sure that the boutonniere stays in place.
  4. After you have pinned the boutonniere, check to see that the needle is not visible from the front and that it is securely fastened.  You can also use two needles to add stability.

Q: Why does a groom wear a boutonniere?

Wearing a boutonniere is all about looking your best.  The tradition of wearing a boutonniere, however, is rooted in Medieval times for a much different reason.  In that time, men weren't accountants and computer technicians.  Instead, they were knights in shining armor--literally.  As a token of their affection, a female admirer would give a knight something he could wear into battle, most likely a scarf or a flower, the color of which would match what the woman was wearing.  As a result, this tradition was known as "wearing a lady's colors."  By sporting this token, a knight could demonstrate that he was supported in battle by a lady who adored him.

Today, the groom and the groomsmen use this symbolism to show their ties to the bride and the bridal party.  However, with all of the options available for present-day couples, it is completely acceptable to do without a traditional flower boutonniere.

Q: Is it appropriate for the groomsmen to wear boutonnieres?

Absolutely, although in cases such as a wedding, where one person such as the groom stands out, the groomsmen should wear a different, but complementary color of flower.

Q: What is the difference between a corsage and a boutonniere?

A corsage refers to a bouquet of flowers worn on a woman's dress or worn around her wrist.  A boutonniere is a floral decoration worn by men, typically a single flower or a bud.

Q: Can a woman wear a boutonniere?

Why on earth not?  In these days of anything goes, a wedding party should be able to wear what'ever they choose.



Q: What guidelines should I use to select a boutonniere?

Cost.  This is a guideline that has considerable room for variance.  As a rule of thumb, 10 percent of your total wedding budget should be for floral decorations, which include the boutonniere.  For a limited number of boutonnieres, peonies and tropical orchids are a good choice.  If you decide on having a greater number of boutonnieres, carnations or roses are a good option.  You should also remember that creating a boutonniere is a skill that involves considerable handcrafting, so labor costs can be significant.  As a general rule, a fresh boutonniere should cost between $10 and $20 for a fresh flower.  A boutonniere with a carnation, daisy, or an alstroemeria typically start at about $5 each.  An inexpensive boutonniere with a rose runs between $10 to $16.

Flower.  A groom's boutonniere should include a flower that is of the same type in the bride's bouquet.  Most florists also recommend that boutonnieres have a flower that will stay fresh for several hours.  If you opt instead for tulips or hydrangeas, you will probably end up fighting a losing battle.

Color.  As a general rule of thumb, the color of the boutonnieres should coordinate with the theme of the venue.  In most cases, the groom's boutonniere should be of a different color than his groomsmen.

Style. The style of the boutonniere should complement the attire being worn.  For a suit or tuxedo that is relatively simple, an intricately designed boutonniere would provide a compelling contrast.

Modifications.  A boutonniere is, primarily, a flower.  There can, however, be modifications for accents, such as a gold pin, feather, some kind of lace, or other touches.

Q: What color should the groom's boutonniere be?

The groom's boutonniere is much simpler and usually only has one flower, while the color and flower of the boutonniere matches the bouquet.

Q: Who should pay for the boutonniere?

The groom's family pays for the bride's bouquet, the boutonnieres for the groomsmen, fathers, and grandfathers, and the corsages for the mothers and the grandmothers.

Q: Who should pin the boutonniere onto the groom?

The best man usually pins the boutonniere on the groom''s coat.  After that, the groom pins the best man's boutonniere to his coat.

Q: Where do you purchase a good boutonniere?

Boutonnieres can be purchased from practically any reputable florist.  If your local high school or college has a floriculture course, you can save a few dollars by purchasing a boutonniere from a student.

Q: When should you buy a boutonniere?

A boutonniere should be delivered 1-2 days before the event and can be refrigerated up to 24 hours prior.

Q: How do you keep a boutonniere fresh?

You can keep your boutonniere fresh if you put it in a plastic bag and refrigerate it and sprinkle it with water before you seal it.  This will keep your boutonniere as fresh as long as possible.

Q: How to make a boutonniere?

Boutonnieres aren't hard to make.  All you need are the following tools to get started:

     *  Flowers

     *  Shears

     *  Floral tape

     *  Magnets or pins

These tools are available from any reputable crafts store or you can purchase kits that come with everything except the flowers.

Prep the flowers.  Gather the flowers you want to make your boutonnieres of and cut away all but about two inches of the stem.  Don't cut them off too short at this stage, however.  You can trim them more later.

Insert wire or attach floral tape.  Remove all the extra foliage and insert wire inside or along the stem, then wrap the stem with tape.  The wire and tape adds stability to the stem.  Start wrapping the tape below the flower and work down to the cut of the stem.  If you want to add a sprig of baby's breath, lace, or a smaller flower, put it alongside the stem and wrap it with the tape to create a single stem.  Cut the tape off after you have finished.

boutonniére hot to make it

Arrange your flower.  Once you have all the elements of your boutonniere together, arrange the flower, greenery, or other elements the way you want it by bending the wire.

Re-wrap the entire boutonniere.  Once you have finished arranging the flower and other elements the way you want them, finish the boutonniere by wrapping the floral tape around the length of the stem one more time to give it more form and stability.

Attach pins or a magnet.  Now you are ready for someone to wear your boutonniere.  To do this, you will need some way of attaching the boutonniere to a person's coat.  For this, you will need a pin or a magnet.  If you choose to use a magnet, you need to make sure it is a strong one.  You also need to make sure that one side is securely fastened to the boutonniere.  You should have small metal plates available for gentlemen to snap their boutonniere to their lapel.


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