Wedding Flowers and Their Background – The Buttonholes Tradition


When it comes to a wedding ceremony and even a reception, there are long lists filled with all types of traditions and customs. From the first kiss to the first dance and from the father-daughter walk down the aisle to the bouquet toss at the end of the party, the lists are varied and full of beautiful customs meant to create memories on a special day. Since flowers are a major part of any wedding, they come with their own set of rituals – and one of these is the wedding buttonholes tradition. If you want to find out more on the subject, as well as get inspired for your upcoming event, then dig into the topic with our article.

Wedding Flowers and Their Background – The Buttonholes Tradition

The History of Wedding Buttonholes

When it comes to flowers, many traditions find their roots in no other than ancient Greece. Back in those early days, the groom as well as the male members of the wedding party used to wear a combination of both herbs and flowers in a small bouquet on the left side of their chest, close to their heart – basically, the meaning of this ritual was to keep evil spirits at bay, as well as to symbolize the commitment of the groom to his bride (and the evil spirits had the supposed intention of keeping the bride away from her true love). Later on, during the Medieval times, the tradition reached higher levels of popularity as it became a custom in places like Europe, especially England (in fact, the word itself ‘buttonhole’ is used in England, while the American version is ‘boutonniere’, the french word for buttonhole). The expression 'wearing your heart on your sleeve' is actually connected with the wedding buttonholes tradition, as the knights used to wear ribbons or blooms over their left arm before going into battles. Later on, the same accessory became a sign of political views as gentlemen were wearing it on the streets back in the 18th century.

Who Wears Buttonholes?

Buttonholes have always been destined to men – firstly, the groom, then the groomsmen, who usually wear matching accessories. The best man also wears a boutonniere, as well as the fathers on each side. Nevertheless, other family members that are close to the couple, such as uncles or grandfathers can also choose to wear a buttonhole at the ceremony and reception. While the styles need to look like, because they come from the same collection, the wedding buttonholes tradition comes with the unwritten rule that the groom’s piece needs to stand out (either through its size or style), as he is the most important man of the wedding party.

In most cases, the groom coordinates his boutonniere with the bride’s bouquet – whether they opt the exact same flower or simply the same shade, it is a matter of personal choice. Another option is to have both the bride and the groom choose one of their wedding’s colors – such as pastel pink for her and vibrant turquoise for him in order to complement each other and look positively stunning in photos.

Some couples who opt for a small, intimate wedding with just their family and close friends want to make everyone feel included so they prepare buttonholes for all the male guests at their wedding – while this may seem excessive to some, it is a viable choice in case you do not want to upset anyone by picking favorites and if your wedding is under 100 people.

Today’s Buttonholes and Alternatives

Like most customs and wedding practices, the wedding buttonholes tradition has evolved a lot through time. Just 10-15 years ago, grooms and groomsmen alike would wear a simple carnation on their chest as a symbol of purity and lifelong commitment on the big day – whereas today, the styles and types of buttonholes are extremely diverse and the single carnation accessories are a long-lost style. These days, popular choices include small flowers and exotic blooms, as well as inexpensive ones such as gypsophila, in addition to the classic roses, tulips and the lilies.

With complex designs and intricate creations, today’s buttonholes feature alternative materials and not just flowers (berries are IN this season while the creative types can even pick comic book characters or Lego pieces to jazz up their accessory) – moreover, buttonholes come with their own fashion and trends and are in perfect match with the color palette of the wedding, as well as the brides bouquet and the centerpieces at the reception.

When it comes to the wedding buttonhole tradition, there is another aspect to consider: in case some of the buttonhole wearers are allergic to flowers, then go for a simple alternative - opt for silk flowers instead or, why not, paper flowers. Other couples prefer to stay in the organic area and use items such as small branches, combined with herbs and berries or even pinecones and seashells.