DIY boutonnieres are a fun art project and a good opportunity to gather your friends and family in the days leading up to your wedding. When planning becomes stressful, craft parties are a way to relax without losing your productivity. Gather the necessary materials and print instruction sheets ahead of time, and even the most craft-averse guest will lend a hand (even if it’s just making sure the crafters’ drinks are kept full).
Look for a sturdy flower like a small rose, tulip, sunflower, or cala lily. (Carnations are inexpensive options, but if you opt for these, you’ll probably want to dress them up a little more to avoid the “high school prom” look.) Avoid flowers that are too delicate, because you’ll be handling them a lot in the process of making the boutonnieres, and may bruise.
If you buy your flowers in bunches, select the most perfect blooms to make the boutonnieres. You can also help your blossoms along by pulling off any damaged petals. Remove all thorns and offshoots until you’re left with a three-inch stem and one or two decorative leaves. You may also wish to augment the flower’s natural leaves with a few fern tips or a sprig of ivy. Sprigs of rosemary, mint or sage will add a lovely scent. If you’re getting married at a vineyard or winery, augment your flowers with grape leaves.
Once the flower and its “garnish” greenery are arranged in a pleasing manner (make sure it looks good from the sides as well as the front), wrap it all together firmly with green floral tape. You can find floral tape at most craft stores. Trim any excess tape or foliage, and you’re ready to pin it to your groomsmen’s lapels. You may also choose to wrap it with decorative ribbon in the wedding colors.
While flower boutonnieres are pretty, they’re also pretty standard. Make your boutonnieres a conversation topic by highlighting their texture and fragrance as well as their color. If you or your neighbors keep a garden, you may even be able to score most of your materials for free.
Choose a variety of herbs in different textures and colors. Herbs with dark leaves, like rosemary, look stunning when paired with herbs that have a silvery sheen, like sage or lavender. Most herbs also have a flowering season (rosemary flowers are violet-blue, dill and fennel are bright yellow, oregano is nearly white, and lavender is, well, lavender). Take special notice of fragrances. Mint, thyme, and Thai basil will only smell lovelier throughout a long day.
To make the boutonnieres, arrange the components in a pleasing manner, cut stems to three inches, and wrap with floral tape, as described in the flowers section above. Herbal boutonnieres are generally more durable than floral boutonnieres and can be made further ahead of time, although all plant life should be left on long stems or in water (still on a living plant is best of all) as long as possible to preserve freshness for the event.
Perhaps you’ve seen them in store displays and been amazed at their ability to thrive without soil. Tillandsia (aka “air plants”) are epiphytes and absorb everything they need through the air, which makes them excellent choices for living decorations. Not only can you incorporate these exotic poofs of plant life into your boutonnieres; you can also take them off after the reception and use them to decorate your home. Air plants are remarkably low-maintenance; just hang them in a window and spray them with a water mister a few times a week.
To keep air plants attached to your boutonnieres, you’ll need a short length of thin floral wire (available at most craft stores). Wrap it around an inconspicuous part of the plant and use it as a “stem” to wrap with the other stems in the arrangement. If you’re really a purist, you can begin the process a few months ahead of time–yet another advantage to using living plants– and let the air plant curl its own roots around the boutonniere base for support.
Fabric and Accessories
Who says boutonnieres have to be made of plants? Fabric boutonnieres are durable and long-lasting. If you’re using fabric flowers or other non-floral options for your wedding flowers, fabric boutonnieres make a perfect compliment.
When you find fabric in a material, color, and pattern you like, cut it into a strip a few inches thick. Cut one side unevenly to make the “petals.” Starting from one end, roll the strip into a coil. Bind the straight-edge side with floral wire at the bottom of the “blossom,” and let the petals at the top fall loose. From here, you can shape the flower by cutting more texture into the petals or adding another layer of complimentary fabric. Bind your flowers together with floral tape, using the wire tails as stems.
Feathers make a great adornment to other materials in boutonnieres, or they can be used alone. You can find feathers in delightful patterns and colors at most craft stores. Simply select a few (although large, ornate feathers like peacock can stand on their own) and bind the stems together with floral tape.
Button “bouquets” are growing in popularity. Find a collection of buttons in various shapes and colors and give each a “stem” by looping floral wire through the button holes. Cut the stems to different lengths and bend them to give your mini button bouquet depth and breadth. Wrap the stems together with floral tape and treat them like flower boutonnieres.
When you’re attempting DIY projects for your wedding, it’s always best to start as early as possible. If you’re using perishable materials, make some sample boutonnieres a few months before the wedding. It’s always good to underestimate the amount of time you’ll have to take on projects as the wedding date nears, so you don’t find yourself overwhelmed when guests start pouring into town. If you have a clear idea of the boutonnieres you want, but find yourself without the free time to make it happen, take your plans to a local florist or décor professional–after all, it’s their job to bring your ideas to life.
Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.