It is also necessary to choose a container to suit the flowers which you are going to use, or, as the case may be, flowers to suit the container of your choice. Copper or brass is very good with strong colours, and a white or gilded urn looks marvellous filled with white or cream material. If the flowers hide the container, there is no problem,


Do consider the lighting carefully. Blues and mauves are quite lost in artificial light, so use them only when there is plenty of natural light.

Some churches have excellent spot lights, which are a great help. Far fewer flowers will be needed. Where, on the other hand, lighting is poor, bold, strong colours are good, and so is white against a dark background. Lighting is so important that flower guilds ought to press for good lighting to show up the more important flower arrangements.


When the wedding flower arranger talks about proportion she means the relating of the flowers and the container to one another to make a balanced whole. If the container is to be seen when the arrangement is complete, the flowers must be at least one and a half times the height of the container. It does not matter if the flowers are far taller, but they must not be shorter! Everyone will have seen huge vases over the tops of which peer little short heads! However well the flowers are arranged, the proportion will always be wrong.

If a large heavy container is used, there must be flowers or foliage of sufficient visual strength to balance it. The lightness of the narcissi and daffodils was offset by large branches of lilac and some gladioli. Had only narcissi and daffodils been used with foliage the balance would have been wrong. There would have been too much emphasis on the urn. If the arrangement is to be a low one or one which hides the vase, any low, wide-topped conatiner will do. If you are using only spring flowers, which are by their nature light, then use a more delicate type of container: this will ensure good proportion.


Flowers arranged in churches have to be seen from some distance. What looks right in a small room may be totally lost in wedding flower arrangement. The way to make the greatest impact with flowers in a wedding is to group your colours well. Remember that very light or very dark flowers stand out and hold your eye: therefore the way you use them will give shape to the arrangement. For instance, if you place very light flowers high up in the vase and gradually bring them down over the front and over to the sides this shape will be clearly seen. The darker flowers and leaves appropriately placed will give emphasis and depth.

If you are using shades of one colour, get some of the deep range in the middle and let the paler colours flow out from it. Mixed colours are always more difficult to arrange, but at certain times of the year you may have no option. Then the trick is to group the various colours together before you put anything into the container. Then pick out some light flowers and make a shape with them. Next use the very dark ones in the same way. You should now have the skeleton of the overall shape. You can then fill in the skeleton keeping other tones and colours together. If you dot odd colours about then, no matter how good the outline is, the final arrangement will have no definite shape or form and certainly will not be seen from a distance.


It is hard to define the exact meaning of ‘line’ in flower arranging. In large massed arrangements lines and curves are produced so as to emphasize the overall shape of the group. For example, 1 wanted the design of the construction arrangement shown in colour plate 2 to be loose and flowing, but it could easily have become a muddle had a clear line not been planned from the beginning. This line was achieved by keeping types of material together, using them to form a pattern, and getting clear lines and shapes from colour grouping. The pale cream roses were placed so that those in bud were high up, with those more fully open coming down through the middle to the base. The white philadelphus formed a clear outline curving from left to right, and the variegated periwinkle, providing the darkest colour, was placed very carefully to accentuate the shape required. When the outline and central shape were completed the other material was added.

A great deal can be learned about line by studying Japanese flower prints and the Ikebana School of flower arranging. It is a good discipline, as it not only makes one economical in the use of material but also teaches one to search out interestingly shaped branches and flowers. It is especially good for me because I am inclined to lash out and create far bigger arrangements than are always desirable!

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