Buttonhole. Corsage. Even a boutonnière. I’m regularly asked what side do I wear a buttonhole on – and what’s the difference? So here’s my handy guide.

groom wearing buttonhole

What is a buttonhole?

A buttonhole is a single flower, often worn on the lapel. As a result, it’s quite common for a buttonhole to feature a rose as the single flower.

Buttonholes are, weirdly, also never fixed through the actual buttonhole on a jacket. This is often because sometimes there is no actual hole; just stitching. And secondly, it can damage a small buttonhole if you try to push a flower through. It’s much better to fix the buttonhole on top of the label.

What is a boutonnière?

A boutonnière is the next step up from a buttonhole. The boutonnière is a single flower which then has a little bit of a filler flower or foliage added to it. Taken from the French word for buttonhole, the boutonniere definition means a small, single flower grouped with two or three flowers worn on the lapel of the groom or the other men for a wedding ceremony. So this grouping could include something like waxflower, gypsophila and / or a piece of fern or other greenery.

What is a corsage?

florist putting on lady's corsage

It originates from the French word bouquet de corsage, meaning a grouping of flowers for the bodice. So a corsage is most definitely a spray of flowers and usually only the ladies will wear a corsage.

The spray can be any flowers you choose – but it needs to be practical to make, fit and wear. A heavier or bulkier corsage may sit better coming from the shoulder so it’s important consider and agree your design and flower choices with your florist.

Who wears buttonholes and corsages?

Traditionally, the bridal party wears corsages or boutonnieres. However, there is no set of rule about who has to wear them on the wedding day. Family members like parents and siblings, even grandparents are often given them to wear. Whilst some couples will provide them for those carrying out special tasks like the ushers at the wedding ceremony, for example.

You could even provide boutonnieres or corsages for special groups of personal importance, like the bride and groom’s extended friends or family.

I’ve delivered buttonholes and corsages to guests who were not expecting them so it was quite a delight to see their joy in receiving one!

florist applying buttonhole
I like to ensure that my buttonholes are securely applied!

What side do I wear a buttonhole?

This is the easy bit! Men wear them on the left lapel and ladies on the right. The best way to remember this is that women are always right!!! There’s also the question of whether ladies wear them pointing up or down. I’ve always worked on the principle that the mother of the bride or groom sets the tone and the rest follow.

hydrangea and thistle buttonhole

Do’s and don’ts

In addition to knowing what side do I wear a buttonhole on, here are some other tips for wearing buttonholes and corsages.

  • Do ask your florist for smaller but robust flowers such as spray roses or carnations. Think about all the hugging they have to withstand! It’s also very hard to securely attach a heavy corsage to light and delicate dress fabrics.
  • Do think about a design that won’t stick out too much – so again it needs to pass the hugging test. Aunt Mabel does not want her eye poking out or pricking with an unsuitable flower or foliage choice.
  • Don’t use flowers that are too large or heavy. Not only do they look a bit weird but they are very hard to attach and keep in place.
  • Don’t worry too much about matching your colour scheme; overall the buttonholes and corsages should evoke the theme or style of your wedding. If they don’t exactly match the colour scheme, it isn’t a total disaster.

Need wedding flower advice?

I’m always on hand for ideas and inspiration when it comes to planning your wedding flowers. This includes buttonholes and corsages obviously – including helping you to know what side do I wear a buttonhole on?! Get in touch and lets get chatting – plus you can look at my Pinterest board for buttonholes and corsages for even more inspiration!

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