Boutonnieres and Weddings: The History and the Trends

Design by Blue Bouquet

Most of us can hardly pronounce the word Boutonniere correctly, and forget about spelling it. I’ve seen so many buttoneres, boutonerres, bouttonieres, and butonears… It’s safe to say that the boutonniere will hold a position of importance in weddings and spelling bees alike for years to come.

A Brief History

Oscar Wilde in a boutonneireCary Grant in a BoutonneireFred Astair in a BoutonneireThe word boutonniere, as you can probably tell, comes to us from the French. The British simply called them button hole flowers. Traditionally, the flower was placed in the button hole of the man’s suit or tuxedo. However, these days, most bouts are pinned directly to the man’s lapel, a long standing trend that aging French women still scoff at.

So why did this tradition start? Curiously enough, the boutonniere and the bridal bouquet were created for similar reasons: to ward off bad smells, disease, and evil spirits. I still haven’t figured out how a flower could hold back an evil spirit or two, but it is not for us to judge the ways of our ancestors. Who knows? Maybe they were on to something. Perhaps we should all start wearing bouts more often. They keep the demons away and the ladies close by – what’s not to like?

There was a day when gentlemen placed a flower in their button hole most every day. Many jackets even had small hidden vases built right in. Even as recently as the ’40′s, bouts were a commonplace adornment. For those of you who enjoy old cinema, you may recall the likes of Fred Astair or Cary Grant wearing a boutonniere just to go out on a Friday evening. Today, however, bouts are primarily worn only for proms, homecomings, and weddings.

The Modern Boutonniere

copper calla lily boutonneire with orchidFrench Beaded flower boutonniereRustic craspedia boutonierre for a country wedding. Photo by Sarah CoxBoutonniere featuring freesia, fiddlehead fern and a custom made fabric leaf. Photo by Versluis PhotographyA playful zinia boutonniereWeddings are full of rituals and traditions, and Kansas City brides and grooms, for the most part, like to stay true to many of these traditions. One of these rituals is for the groom and his men, the fathers, the grandfathers, the ushers, and maybe even the officiant to wear a boutonniere on the left lapel of his suit or tuxedo jacket. Modern boutonnieres, however, have come a long way from the ones you’ll see in old photos.

Most of the time a boutonniere are simply a few small blooms bundled together. Sometimes, however, something more unique is in order. We’ve created many bouts that don’t include flowers at all.You may be wondering, “what style should I go with?” Our best advice is to keep it simple and tasteful. Drue, our head florist, has an interesting take: “Size is really important in a boutonniere. Ultimately, no one wants to look back at their wedding pictures and say ‘what was I thinking?!!!’. At the same time many brides also want something fresh and different. The balance is found in smaller size. As a rule, Don’t use anything much larger than the size of a golf ball. Let the mothers wear the multiple bloom corsages. Don’t overwhelm the men with big florals. If you follow this rule, you can experiment with fresh designs without risking becoming tasteless.”

A Bit of Boutonniere Advice

Size is really important in a boutonniere. Ultimately, no one wants to look back at their wedding pictures and say ‘what was I thinking?!!!’. At the same time many brides also want something fresh and different. The balance is found in smaller size.- Drue Carr

Roses, Orchids, Stephanotis, Tulips, Callas, and even plan Hypericum Berries have been the mainstays of boutonnieres over the past ten years. Carnations and Gardenias were used more often in decades past, and though they have long fallen out of the spotlight, they’ll find their spot again soon enough. For those leaning away from the floral look, there are always more masculine options, if you like—Fiddlehead Ferns, twigs, blooms made of metal, or general herbs make great bouts. Should the groom’s bout match the bride’s bouquet? The majority of brides and grooms’ florals do coordinate. At the same time, many couples are leaning away from the “matchy-matchy” look that dominated the ’90′s. Insteady, they are sticking to florals that are the same in style and spirit, but still have some movement and variety.

By this point, most of you are probably quite overwhelmed. Don’t worry. We don’t expect you to be boutonniere experts. Instead, we focus on getting to know you and your style, so that we can design something for you that will really work. Of course, if you’re still interested in more information, you may want buy Amberto Angeloni’s The Boutonniere: Style in One’s Lapel. It’s an expensive read, but it’s got Cary Grant in a classic rose bout on the cover, so we think it’s a justifiable expense.

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