Martha Stewart Living Television

When it comes to wedding flowers, the bridal bouquet usually gets the most attention. While a great deal of thought needs to be given to this most important arrangement, the flowers worn by the groom and his attendants are equally significant. Today Martha is joined by nature/projects editor Hannah Milman for a lesson on boutonnieres.

A boutonniere, named after the French word for buttonhole, is a small, single flower, or grouping of two or three, worn on the lapel of the groom and other men in the ceremony. The flowers often coordinate with the blooms used in the bride's bouquet and are chosen to suit the season, the color scheme of the wedding, and the wedding attire. A boutonniere, perhaps even more than a bouquet, must be sturdy enough to last for hours, through the ceremony, photographs, dinner, and dancing. Depending on the hardiness of the flower, one boutonniere per wearer is not always enough; a florist will often prepare two or more boutonnieres so they can be changed and freshened throughout the day. Boutonnieres can be kept fresh by storing them in a refrigerator before use. Just be sure the refrigerator is empty of food, which can cause the flowers to wilt.

A good example of an elegant, classic boutonniere is one made of a single 'Black Magic' rose bloom. Before it is cut down, the flower is conditioned: The end of the stem is cut and put in water, allowing the water to be drawn up into the bloom. Once the bloom is firm and plump, the stem is then cut to a length of about three inches and wrapped with green floral tape. The tape should be overlapped while wrapping, and pulled taut to activate the adhesive. After taping, the stem is wrapped with a coordinating satin ribbon, overlapping the same way as with the tape. A dot of craft glue will secure the end of the ribbon.

Any other flower or combination of leaves and blossoms can be made into a boutonniere using the same technique. Remember that the finished arrangement needn't be very big -- a small, single hyacinth flower or an African violet blossom set in front of a deep green leaf from the same plant can make a striking accessory. You might try a miniature spray rose "cuffed" -- or surrounded -- by tiny closed buds. Don't feel you are limited to flowers, either: Many herbs and leaves can become lovely boutonnieres. Once boutonnieres are prepared, tuck a corsage pin through each stem so they'll be ready to attach.


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