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  • Writer's picturestephanie willoughby

Buttonholes, Bouttonieres and Corsages!

Updated: Aug 13, 2019

What’s the difference?

It's all very confusing flowery language isn't it.

Let's explain and then you can order your Wedding flowers with confidence!

A buttonhole is usually a single flower, normally worn by men on the left lapel. Why? Because its closer to the heart...

The Groom’s buttonhole can be designed to reflect his hobby, heritage or work and can be traditional or whimsical.

Your florist will have lots of ideas and images to help you.

So, why are they called buttonholes?

Actually its all wrong... Buttonholes are reinforced holes in fabric that buttons pass through, allowing one piece of fabric to be secured to another...

Florists coined the term, as it was common for every guest to wear a flower in their "buttonholes..." My Father, who was florist in the Fifties, used to tell me for weddings typically he would make 200 buttonholes, these days its typically between 10 - 20.

The speed when making them was incredible - one per 30 seconds.

Traditionally in the those days, the Groom always wore a White Rose or a White Carnation with fern symbolising true love and The Best Man would wear a Red Rose or Red Carnation.

There are several theories as to the origin of the buttonhole in weddings. 

The oldest, as with many of our wedding traditions, dates to ancient Greece. 

Male members of the wedding party would wear a small bunch of flowers, usually mixed with fragrant herbs, pinned close to their heart to ward off evil spirits. It was believed that these evil spirits would cause the groom to turn his heart against the bride and refuse to love her.

This is right back on trend again, we often add herbs as an aromatic scent for the Groom.

Another theory is that the buttonhole travelled to England during Medieval times; when Knights of the realm would wear their lady’s colours upon their chest to show their everlasting love and commitment. Always positioned over the heart of course.

Possibly the most romantic story is that of Prince Albert.  It is said that Queen Victoria presented him with a small bouquet on their wedding day.  Being the ultimate gentleman, he supposedly cut a hole in lapel right there and then and put the flowers in.  Leading to him requesting his tailor put a hole in all his lapels going forward and soon all society gentlemen followed his lead.

So what is a boutonniere ?( pronounced "boo-ton-ee-air" ) Its just a French term for a collection of small flowers, worn with the stems showing, and can be for men or women. Often a chosen collection from the smallest flowers used in the Brides bouquet which is super romantic. Often the stems are bound with ribbon or twine and worn outside on the lapel.

A corsage (pronounced cor- sar-je ) is a larger floral design worn by women on the lapel or attached to the wrist, hat or handbag.

Wrist designs are really popular this year with Mums and Sisters and Ladies of the Wedding party.

We have a selection of wraparound bands, velco fastenings or gorgeous pearl bead wrist designs to match to outfits. They are really lovely and comfy to wear.

Corsages are made from individual flowers, berries and foliages that have been painstakingly wired and taped and then put together very delicately by your florist.

Each design can take an hour for a trained florist to make.

Corsages can be added to your lapel if wearing a suit. Traditionally they are pinned through the fabric. If you are wearing delicate materials request a magnet attachment - this comes in 2 pieces, one side is taped to the floral design the other half is placed behind clothing and voila!

On a serious note: Beware of magnets if you have a heart condition and they should NEVER be used if you have a pacemaker!

So let's hope thats all cleared up! You now know the difference and what to request.

On a final note - we often get asked by couples, who do we buy buttonholes and corsages for?

It's of course entirely up to you but as professionals who have seen and made a great deal of wedding flowers, this is not the time to cut corners. You do not want your Mother in law searching for her corsage on the day - and ringing us up asking where it is...we don't want to be the ones to tell her she doesn't have one.

So to give a little bit of advice - please supply for your immediate family on BOTH sides :)

It's down to you who falls in this category, but bear in mind that it costs a relatively small amount and exceeds expectations, everyone will love you - so include new partners, stepmums, sisters and brothers, Nans and Grandads etc (even if you dont want to!)

Plus Best Men, Ushers or Groomsmen will traditionally have a buttonhole provided for them.

Optional - Readers, Ceremony Celebrants /officials, Toastmasters, Chaffeurs, Wedding planners - often get forgotten, but we get to see the joy on their faces when they recieve a little gift from you.

Small Pageboys - buttonholes are usually not needed unless you want to make a quirky one for them.

Here's a few of our unusual choices for buttonholes - we have masses of ideas and images to share when you pop over for a consultation.

Visits are strictly by appointment of course - call to find out availability on 01273 951745 today.

Buttonholes do not have to be boring! Photo Credit: Colourful Buttonholes by Interflora.

Check out our other Wedding blogs - we have over 20 years experience as wedding professionals and give great advice.

Steph and Tim x

Want to know more about Wedding traditions?

P.S. Follow us on Instagram for recent wedding posts

P.P.S Check out our Pinterest boards more more Buttonhole inspiration

01273 951745

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