Unique BoutonniereWeddings revolve around details: the flavors of your cake, the vows you exchange, and the songs you select for the reception. Naturally, this extends to how you, your spouse, and your wedding party dress for the big day. You’ll focus a lot on the colors, cuts, and styles of your clothing, but accessories polish an entire look. For many, flower arrangements impart unique touches that help pull an ensemble together. One of these, the boutonniere, is a small yet significant addition with a backstory and purpose all its own.

What in Tarnation Is a Boutonniere?

He Spoke Style’s Adam Lehman breaks down the fascinating history of boutonnieres. Some suggest that these floral accessories were used by soldiers on the battlefield, identifying the side for which they fought. One traditional tale insists that Prince Albert devised his own, placing the flowers that his new bride Queen Victoria gave him into his lapel’s top buttonhole. However, that explanation has been largely dismissed by fashion historians.

Regardless of their origin, boutonnieres started appearing on the lapels of well-dressed men during the 19th century. High-collared jackets were in fashion beginning with the Regency period. When worn with the top buttons undone, the top buttonhole falls exactly where the modern first lapel buttonhole lies in today’s suit jackets. Placing a floral accessory there was a simple way to dress up an ordinary suit or add panache to an already elaborate ensemble. While they were common for everyday wear during some parts of the 19th and 20th centuries, they became associated with more formal occasions during the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

Modern boutonnieres aren’t that much different than the older versions. You’ll usually see a single bloom paired with greenery or baby’s breath. Other styles can incorporate two or three different blossoms along with light foliage, ribbons, and other embellishments.

Basic Boutonniere Styles

Whatever you choose for your boutonniere, the key to remember is that it should be an accent for your wedding day attire. Your flowers can complement any arrangement that your partner wears or carries. In most cases, that means using the same flower varieties and colors. Brides writer Gabriella Rello mentions that you can choose slightly different shades of the same color or softer tones than the blooms in your spouse’s floral accessories.

At the same time, you don’t need to select the exact same flowers. Even matching shades of non-traditional wedding blooms or clusters of herbs can work well in a boutonniere. Also, keep in mind that you aren’t limited to flowers and greenery. Other great options include succulents, berries, pins, feathers, small family heirlooms, brooches, laser-cut pins, or even paper pinwheels.

The Right Size Can Make the Difference

As a Hunker article illustrates, boutonnieres are usually smaller than corsages. Most recommend that your boutonniere should be around the same size as a golf ball. However, this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. It’s a good idea to size these arrangements proportionally to the body frame and height of the individuals wearing them. For instance, a person who’s 6’2” and weighs 230 pounds should probably get a slightly larger boutonniere than someone who’s only 5’7” and weighs 150 pounds.

Boutonnieres may seem like just another detail, but they're also an opportunity for self-expression. A simple design offers a sophisticated touch, while elaborate boutonnieres can step up the “wow” factor with both natural and man-made embellishments. Unconventional options also exist, so don’t feel constrained to select traditional versions or even limited to choosing only flowers. While the sky’s the limit when it comes to how you style them, it’s important to make sure they’re sized appropriately for their wearers. Allow yourself plenty of time to craft your own, or work with your florist and you’ll end up with lovely arrangements in time for the big day.

Category: Wedding Materials

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