Wedding buttonholes

What exactly is a wedding buttonhole and who gets to wear one? Does it have to match the bride’s bouquet? How do you fix them onto your new suit? It’s not something you wear everyday so our guess is that you have questions about the whys and wherefores. Don’t worry -we have the lowdown on everything you need to know.

What is a buttonhole and who wears one?

Buttonholes are the small arrangements of flowers worn in the lapel of the men’s suits at a wedding. They are usually worn by the groom, the best man, the ushers, the father-of-the-bride, father-of-the-groom and page boy or ring-bearer.

Buttonholes are worn by the groom and groomsmen. Photo: Victor Lax

The mother-of-the-bride and mother-of-the-groom often wear a similar floral decoration, a lapel or wrist corsage, pinned to the right side of their outfit or tied with a ribbon around their wrist. If you are having a wedding with a ‘best woman’, ‘bridesman’ or a ‘man of honour’, they can also wear a corsage or buttonhole.

You can look at buttonholes as the man’s version of a wedding bouquet. They are of course, much smaller and they are fixed onto the lapel of the suit jacket (they can be stuck through a buttonhole – hence the name – or pinned on the lapel).

What flowers are used?

From a simple single flower to a mini-arrangement, your buttonhole adds a flash of colour and freshness to your outfit and can be as individual as you are. Typically, it’s composed of a single flower or a small collection of flowers and foliage but it can include fabric, features or hints at a favourite hobby.

Buttonholes can be tied with cream ribbon or florist’s tape. Photo: AimeeKTeam

Buttonholes make your key men feel special and they’re a good way of differentiating them from the rest of your wedding guests. And they also help your guests to identify your ushers and know that these guys are more likely to be able to help them before, after or even during the ceremony.

A buttonhole of a white rose, echinops (a thistle-like flower) and a spike of veronica tied with a blue silk ribbon
White mini-roses with blue echinops, buttonhole

How do I decide?

Your buttonholes should match the style and colour scheme of your wedding and complement the bride’s bouquet. As the groom, you can ask the bride which flowers will be used in her bouquet. You can then choose whether to match your buttonhole flower to the bouquet flowers or perhaps pick up on the flowers that are used elsewhere in the ceremony or reception. If you are completely clueless about flowers but don’t worry, your florist will have ideas to suggest and do use Pinterest to get some inspiration. It might be a flower from the bride’s arrangement or a neutral-toned flower with a sprig of greenery if you’re looking for something a bit more low-key. Either way, you will also want to think about how it will complement or contrast with the suit against which it will be worn.

A buttonhole of hypericum berries with touches of ornithogalum
The hypericum berries and subtle flowers make a neat buttonhole, incorporating flowers from the bridal bouquet, tied with matching green string.

The stems of the flowers can be wrapped in cream silk ribbon, thin contrasting ribbon, dark green florist’s tape or metallic thread. Be sure to keep the buttonhole small. One common problem is that the flowers are too heavy and are more difficult to secure. In this case, an extra pin can help do the trick. Often, if roses are used in the bridal bouquet, mini-roses are used for the buttonholes. In Mallorca, small sprigs of mini-eucalyptus or olive foliage are also very popular.

How do I fix it on?

A tray of buttonholes, including olive folige and

The flower should be worn on the outside of the buttonhole on the left lapel. If there is an actual buttonhole in the suit, thread the stem of the flower through the left lapel of the suit jacket and secure it with a pearl-headed pin. Often your florist can help with this. Where the buttonhole is not open but decorative, the flowers are pinned to the front of the lapel. If you want to push the boat out, you can choose a dressy pin with an understated flower to make a statement. Or you can choose to coordinate your pin with jewellery the bride is wearing.

What about the tiny holes left by the pin when you remove the buttonhole at the end of the wedding? Is your new Tom Ford suit ruined for ever? Just use your forefingers on either side of the holes to move the fabric in a zig-zag motion and close them- job done!

Does it have to be flowers?

What if you just don’t like flowers or suffer from hayfever? Fear not, there are some great alternatives, from aromatic foliage such as rosemary or lavender, sprigs of olive, tiny arrangements of pampas grass with feathers, thistle-like blooms like echinops or eryngium or even mini-succulents.

Whether you and your groomsmen are wearing plain black, grey or blue suits, or something more informal with a splash of colour, the right buttonhole will compliment your outfits and look fresh and attractive.

With thanks to and who have great wedding planning advice for every type of wedding

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