Etiquette for Wedding Buttonholes

Wedding image by Mat Hayward from

Wedding buttonholes are designed to hold a small flower for the groom and his groomsmen. The boutonniere will coordinate with or complement the colors and types of wedding flowers. Buttonholes are a final touch which adds style to formal attire. The buttonhole should be of good quality. This will make a difference on how stylish the buttonhole will look on the wedding party. The term “buttonhole” is primarily British, while “boutonniere” is used to describe the same thing in the United States.

Types of Flowers

Most small flowers are suitable for a buttonhole. Popular options include tulips, calla lilies and roses. The groom can consult the bride to find out which flowers will be used in her bouquet. He can choose whether or not to match his buttonhole flower to the bouquet flowers or flowers that are used elsewhere in the ceremony or reception.


According to the Wedding Flowers Guide website, if the groom would prefer to not have a flower on his lapel, he can opt to have his buttonhole made from thistle, foliage or herbs. Beads can also be added to buttonholes for extra flair.

Groom’s Buttonhole

While he does not have to, the groom can coordinate his buttonhole with the bride’s bouquet to express their partnership and love for each other. This doesn’t mean it needs to be the same flower. It can also be fashionable to choose a color which contrasts with the bride’s flowers. The buttonhole can be different from the bride’s flowers while still complementing them. For example, a mint green buttonhole will complement a pink bouquet.

Who Wears Buttonholes

Wedding etiquette clarifies that buttonholes should be worn by the groom, best man, ushers or groomsmen, father(s) of the bride and father(s) of the groom. If there are other important members of the wedding party or family, such as grandfathers or ring bearers, they can wear buttonholes as well.

How to Wear a Buttonhole

The flower should be worn on the outside of the buttonhole. The buttonhole itself should be on the left lapel. According to the Wedding Flowers Guide website, a pearl-headed pin can secure the buttonhole from the back side of the lapel; the pin will not show from the front. The flower should be pinned, so that it’s pointing upward. How the groom and others choose to wear the pin depends on how decorative the pin is and whether or not it's considered a part of the ensemble. You can choose a dressy pin with an understated flower to make a statement. The groom can choose to coordinate his pin with jewelry the bride is wearing.