Weddings 101: Groom’s guide to the suit buttonhole

Jun 28, 2016 | Style

Right now, you’re probably asking yourself: “Why am I supposed to be worrying about my suit buttonholes?” Ah, well on top of all the other wedding-related things you didn’t realise you’d ever need to know, the boutonnieres for your buttonhole are pretty important for grooms.


But I’ve had buttonholes on my clothes all my life and never had to worry before!

Yeah, we should mention that it’s not an actual buttonhole. The tiny bunch of flowers that sits on your lapel is what’s called a buttonhole. And also a boutonniere. Because weddings like to be difficult.


Right. Ok. So why do I need a tiny bunch of flowers?

Blame Greece. In fact, blame Greece for every single second you’ve devoted to any flowers during your wedding because it all comes back to them.

In relation to buttonholes, the Ancient Greeks believed that a groom should wear a small bunch of flowers mixed with herbs by his heart to ward off the evil spirits set on removing the love he had for his bride-to-be.

The tradition then spread to Medieval England, snowballed and now you have to do it.


Do I need a special flower for my tux buttonhole?

After people moved on from combining multiple herbs to scare away ghosts, a simple rose or carnation would do the trick. In recent times, the once-simple process has become a little more complicated and you’ll most likely end up ordering a special design from your florist. Like a mini bouquet for your tux.

Make sure the colour matches your overall look and make sure you don’t have too many accessories (ie: coloured bow tie AND a colourful boutonniere AND a coloured pocket square). Also be sure they’re delivered or collected the morning of your wedding and don’t fix the buttonhole (flowers) into your buttonhole (actual) until right before you arrive at the ceremony. Those things wilt and you don’t want a sad bunch of tiny flowers in your wedding pictures.


How do I wear it?

The right way is to fix the tiny bunch of flowers into that special buttonhole on your lapel. Many men will pin it on, like your debs date’s corsage, but it’s frowned upon, much like wearing an elastic tie.

If the buttonhole is closed or not present at all for some reason, the experts would tell you to scrap it altogether, but you can be forgiven for committing this apparently heinous fashion crime. You should also feel free to pin it for extra security even if there is an open buttonhole because as we always say, it’s your wedding.


The boutonniere normally has a couple of inches of stalk, so you should push the stalk through the lapel’s buttonhole and then use a pin to secure it in the back so it’s not visible. If there isn’t a hole, just pin it to the front of your lapel and try to keep it tidy.

Your florist should provide the pins you need, but be sure to double check in advance.


Will anyone else be wearing tiny bunches of flowers?

If you’re following tradition, yes. Your best man, groomsmen and both fathers should also be wearing them and you’re the who has to sort them all out. Everyone can wear the same design or the groom can wear something that stands out from the crowd, while following a general theme. For example, you could all wear the same type of flower, but you could have one in a different colour or with some greenery.

Do I have to?

Only if you’re planning a traditional wedding or your fiancée makes you!