How To: Make A Boutonnière

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer


I remember watching my mom put together a boutonnière for my high school prom date and thinking that she must be the smartest woman alive for having the knowledge and skills to create such a floral masterpiece as a boutonnière. (I also felt this way when in fourth grade I discovered she could make fried eggs. WHAT A WOMAN.) The truth is, while my mom is awfully smart, boutonnières are actually really easy to put together yourself. And if I had a dollar for every time I’ve watched someone undo a pre-made overwrought boutonnière and then put it back together immediately before affixing it to a groom’s lapel, I’d have…a lot of dollars. So we figured it’s probably easier to just skip that step and teach you how to make one yourself.

The best part about creating boutonnières is that you don’t need a ton of materials or floral ingredients. In fact, we made these using mostly leftover elements from the bouquets we made for this series. When done right, boutonnières can be made a few days in advance, so for this tutorial we made sure to use flowers that would hold up against a few days in the fridge without wilting and dying. (I actually took this one home with me after we made it and it survived my counter top for a few days before eventually giving up on me.) In addition to the flowers and ribbon listed above, you’ll need scissors, floral tape, boutonnière pins and wire cutters.

Photos: Allison Andres / Flowers: Belle-Flower

Making a boutonnière is basically like making a tiny bouquet. You want to start with your focal flower, then add in two additional flowers in different colors and textures around it. The key to an interesting but not overwhelming boutonnière is to use analogous colors. The easiest way to do this is to look at a color wheel and choose from the colors on either side of your focal flower. We used a yellow billy ball to complement our green mossy ball. (Side note: I desperately want to make an arrangement for my home using only this flower so that when someone asks me what it’s made of, I can tell them it’s green mossy balls.) If you want your flowers to pop against each other, look to colors across the color wheel from your focal flower and choose from within that color family.

Unlike a bouquet, you are going to stop building your boutonniere after you’ve created your three-flower base. At this point, you’ll want to wrap your boutonniere tightly using floral tape. When it comes time to wrap the boutonniere with ribbon, Natalie has a trade secret. First, take your ribbon and hold it at the top of the stem, pinching the top and letting the ribbon hang vertically down the length of the flower stems (you want it to hang at least a few inches below the bottom). Then fold the ribbon under the bottom of the stems and twist the boutonniere, all while still pinching the top. The ribbon should twist perfectly around the stems and end just underneath the flowers. Cut off any extra ribbon. To secure the ribbon to the boutonniere, take a boutonniere pin and jam it up into the stem of one of the flowers. If part of your pin sticks out, cut the end with wire cutters.

Now, if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me how to put a boutonniere on and then subsequently made an ass of myself while trying to work my tiny baby hands around delicate flower arrangements, I’d be an actual billionaire. So I made sure to ask Natalie what her secret is. Turns out, I’ve been doing it wrong the whole time. The photo above is an example of how boutonnieres should be pinned on. Of course, I was immediately concerned for your safety (and my boobs) with the sharp point of the pin so close to the body, to which Natalie told me to either cut the sharp part of the pin with wire cutters or to put a rubber earring back on it. My mind responded by exploding.

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Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

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  • Laura C

    Old plan: no boutonnieres at my wedding. New plan: tell the groomsmen that we’ll supply the flowers and instructions if they want to make their own boutonnieres. I’m guessing this works out to no boutonnieres, but hey, if it doesn’t, that’s nice too.

    • meg

      Snarflesnort. I put $1,000 bucks on that working out to no boutonnieres. Which we also had, and is golden.

      • Yeah, my plan (now that I have brilliant tutorial!) is to make one for my groom. I’m also only making one bouquet, for moi. Anything more than that feels like too much work.

        • Laura C

          My existing plan was to have a get-together the day before the wedding at which the bridesmaids made their own bouquets. (I’d asked if they wanted bouquets considering they’d be making their own and they seemed to think yes, so I’m not saddling myself with too much work.) So now the groomsmen will also be invited. I guess if any of the groomsmen are thinking of hitting on any of the bridesmaids, it’ll be a good opportunity to lay the groundwork.

          • meg

            That might get you some boutonnieres. Lets be honest.

        • Stalking Sarah

          Word. We each had a bouquet and decided not to mess with flowers for the attendants. It was totally fine. Everyone looked lovely, and *surprise surprise* no one needed to be identified with flowers for folks to know that they had a special role in the wedding.

  • Easy ID of Maddie in faceless photos: kickass huge earrings. Go, grrrrl ;-)

    • Maddie


  • Get out of my head, APW. I was just sitting her trying to figure out how I was going to make my fiance a boutonniere for our wedding on Sunday, and there you go giving me the answer!

  • Kate

    OooooooOOooo a boutonniere would look so badass on a cardigan-ed or suited bride who actually knows what to do with her hands.

    • <3 double entendre <3

      <3 <3 lesbian double entendres <3 <3

      (not sure if you actually meant this in a lesbian way, but I'm taking it as such, 'cause it makes me happy :) )

      • meg

        OH YOU GUYS.

  • Class of 1980

    It’s kind of odd that we pin boutonnieres on now. Historically, they were tucked into a buttonhole on the lapel, so you didn’t see the stems. But that buttonhole has disappeared from a lot of suits, hence the pinning.

    Also, historically they were an everyday thing; not something only reserved for weddings or formal occasions.

    • Caroline

      Yup, and my old fashioned lad is excited about the idea of making sure his wedding suit has a lapel buttonhole to have a lapel flower properly. (Which may translate into wearing a lapel flower regularly when he wears a suit, because he likes to be the classiest man in the room.)

  • Okay APW readers, I’m getting ready to buy my bouquet/boutonnière making supplies (non-floral only). Where have you guys bought your supplies?

    • JenM

      I made the boutonnieres for our wedding using sola flowers and dried caspia…they were super quick and fun to make. Probably one of the least stressful projects I did.

    • Any place that sells floral or crafty supplies. I got most of mine at Joann Fabrics, but you can also get them at Michels, or even better, your local non-chain place. I ended up using no wire, and just tape.

      Tip: if you’re doing your flowers the night before because you have a DIT wedding in the morning, stick everything in the fridge the night before. Make sure it doesn’t get too cold.

      Also: Where was this tutorial a month ago when I got married?! I had a brigade of crafty aunties, my mom and grandmother putting them together for everyone. The ribbon idea is super cool.

    • LMN

      I feel like I cheated on our boutonnieres since went the easiest possible route. But I also feel like I won, because they were so EASY. And inexpensive. I got the white natural touch orchids from (only $3 each!) They look great against the guys’ suits in the photos. They even feel like real flowers. Bonus: they come with a pin glued to the back of them, so there is no way for you to mess up pinning them on. Very happy we went with these.

      We also used more of the same flowers for corsages for the moms and grandma, but that was a little more involved (there was ribbon, and velcro, and an iron, and a sewing machine). I’m so grateful my mom took over that project. I can show you a photo if anyone is interested, but I can’t say exactly how we ended up making them, because it was all her. She spent a couple of hours on them. Again, it was really inexpensive, but more labor intensive than the boutonnieres.

  • Leila

    Thank you for the instructions on how to put on the boutonniere. My husband and his best man were alone in their dressing room befuddled by the fact that two engineers had no idea how to put on a boutonniere. They ended up youtubing it and still put it on wrong, so luckily our florist (friender) finally fixed the situation right before the ceremony. I would highly recommend making sure someone knows how to put it on. :)

    • SarahT

      I overlooked this to my own peril! Whoever put the boutonierres on my husband and the guys put them on the wrong side. I didn’t notice at the time, but it bothers me when I see the pictures!! I didn’t even know there was a right side to put them on until I saw them on the wrong side. Gah!

  • Molly M.

    Do you have any recommendations for keeping boutonnieres fresh overnight? Or do you have to make them the day of? Any recommendations on flowers that will stay perky all day? I ask because after making awesome boutonnieres for my sister’s wedding, the flowers ended up wilting halfway through the day. We kept them in the fridge overnight, but it just didn’t work. I’m guessing because of the plants we used.

    • Maddie

      Oh I totally left this out of the tutorial, but we specifically chose flowers that would keep fresh overnight (actually, I think these kept for a few days if I remember correctly). If you’re not a fan of these flowers, ask someone in the know what will be heartier and last a little longer. I think there are more flowers in this category than we realize!

      • Emmers

        So cool! I didn’t know this was a thing. Definitely going to look those puppies up.

    • Emily

      I made the boutonnières for my wedding and they really were as easy as this tutorial (the bridesmaids and I also made bouquets using the Trader Joe’s method and they turned out awesome)! But as Maddie said, use hearty flowers! I did not, and they didn’t last long. I made mine the day before and kept them in the fridge overnight. They still looked all right the next morning, but after a few hours in the 90 degree weather the delicate flowers I had used had either wilted or fallen off entirely :( I would recommend planning them the day before, setting aside the flowers and materials, and making them the day of the wedding.

  • These are amazing. And could they be any easier! Thanks for the great idea.

  • You can also turn one of the flowers “down” to cover more of the stem.

  • Sarah

    In terms of keeping for a little while, we used succulents in our boutonnières and they were beautiful and lasted literally forever. Months (a year?) after our wedding.

  • ROSE

    Floral tape can be super helpful, also. It’s green, plastic-y tape that is only sticky to itself. That way you can arrange the flowers, greens, etc and get them all snug and taped, then add a piece of ribbon if needed. I did this for a friend’s wedding last year and they were super fun to make. I actually made several extras since lots of hugs = sad flowers about half way through the wedding.

  • What Maddie calls mossy balls in this tutorial is officially called green trick dianthus, and is related to carnations. :)

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  • A very nice guide on making Boutonniere although it is different that they pin this on rather than tucking it inside a buttonhole, otherwise the stem would be visible.

    It really depends on if you are in the new generation or the old fashioned type?

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