How to Organise Wedding Flower Arrangements

If you are doing the flowers for a wedding, a formal party, an anniversary, or some other special occasion you may well want a more formal arrangement. Assuming that the chicken wire, pin-holder, or foam is in place, and the container filled with tepid water, all you now have to do is arrange the flowers. Always have odd numbers of the different flowers, never an equal quantity. Try to have say five of one type and seven or nine of another. Take your time. Put the flowers in one by one and try the effect of each by holding it against the arrangement. Flowers object to being pushed into the chicken wire and then pulled out again when you decide they might look better elsewhere. Despite the aura of mystery which surrounds the subject, the three basic steps to follow when attempting any arrangement are really extremely simple.


First put in the tall outline material – Delphiniums, Gladioli, Forsythia, Yew, Lime (with its leaves stripped off) or Grasses. Start by placing three pieces to fix the outline points, and then add a few more to complete the shape. All the stems should be aimed at the centre so that the finished arrangement flows from one point.

In a symmetrical arrangement an identical look to each side will give a stiff, flat appearance. Each flower should be slightly further back, and fractionally higher or lower than its opposite number.

English: Flowers round church door at St John ...

Wedding flowers in a church

Focal interest

The heavy, large blooms which are to form the focal point of the arrangement should be placed near the middle and fairly low. Important looking Peonies,

Rhododendrons, Magnolias, Roses, or tight clusters of berries, are ideal, but do avoid giving the effect of one central blob of colour. Choose flowers which will enhance but not totally dominate the arrangement.


Intermediate ‘filling’ material – for ex-ample, Sweet Williams, Marguerites, or Sweet Peas – is used to tie in the heavy central flowers with the outline. Do not be tempted to fill in every single gap you can find. The effect of a flower arrangement can be ruined if it is too tightly packed. When in doubt, stop.

Church Wedding Flowers

When arranging flowers in a church you must bear in mind the size, style and period of the church itself. Wild flowers will look delightful in the small chapel of an old Saxon or Norman country church, but could be totally out of place in a large church in a town or city. The same rule applies to the containers you use. Old-fashioned ones will look well in old churches and modern containers with their sharp definite lines look good in modern churches. The flowers, particularly those arranged at the chancel steps, must be large and high enough to be visible and effective when seen from the back of the church, so exaggerate the arrangement a little and make it as high as possible. It is, too, often better to have flowers in all shades of one colour rather than lots of contrasting colours – the shape of the arrangement is then more easily appreciated from the back of the church. Altar flowers present a difficulty because they often have to compete both with altar hangings and stained-glass windows. It is often a good idea to pick up one of the colours from the stained glass and carry this through to the flowers.

Always remember that the dim light, or electric light, found in churches may distort the colours of some flowers.

Flower decoration for a wedding in front of a ...

Wedding flowers

Care in container

Cut flowers are somewhat delicate beings. Even those which thrive in the most exposed corner of the garden develop invalid tendencies in the container. They all dislike draughts, full sunlight, gas fires, a dry overheated atmosphere, and being overcrowded. A light spray to keep up the humidity will be appreciated, and the container should be topped up with water – at room temperature not icy cold – every day. Cut flowers drink a surprising amount. 8Z town house look

The average apartment or recently built house in a town tends to have small rooms and compact furniture – not much scope for outsize arrangements, nor a casual brimming-over look. Probably florists’ flowers – few because of their cost – will be the material used. As for foliage, it is usually possible to find some on a country walk or in a friend’s garden. Even with such limitations, however, a distinctive style can be created, appropriate to the setting. To make the most of limited space, use Snowdrops in miniature arrangements, or Lily-ofthe Valley, Freesias, Ranunculus, Pinks and Crocuses and put these on a desk top, dressing table or hall window sill. Small urns are particularly suited to miniature arrangements, giving them extra importance. Neat foliage in miniature arrangements can be provided by sprigs of Broccoli or Parsley, or leaves from a Peperomia plant. With delicately coloured flowers like Pinks, skeleton Magnolia leaves (from a florist or garden centre) could be used, sprayed white or silver. On a small dining table, such flowers could be wired into a long garland and laid (with candles) along the centre (or in a circle) just before the meal starts, having been kept in water meanwhile. Some flowers, because they remain tidy and do not sprawl, are well suited to a modern flat.

Hyacinths for example, perhaps with some large Ivy leaves for contrast; massed Anemones or Marigolds cut short; Lilies with Laurel leaves and Solomon’s Seal; Carnations, not with the over-used Asparagus Fern but among Holly leaves. A solitary branch or two of blossom, Eucalyptus, Pussy Willow or Chestnut buds may be all that is needed to make a corner of a room interesting, relying on linear composition to provide all the decoration that is needed. In autumn, Symphoricarpus (Snowberries) (white) and Pyracantha or Cotoneaster berries (red) add fresh interest; or use bare branches painted white. Florists’ flowers can be made more of, not only with cultivated foliage but with wild kinds brought home after a drive in the country.

Add black Hypericum berries to a bowl of red Tulips, for instance, or even use a froth of Chaerophyllum Sylvestre (Cow Parsley) heads in a shallow dish on a coffee table, or an all-foliage group. A very stylized effect can be created by buying a large ball or cone of flower arranging foam or making one of chicken wire (foam-filled) and entirely covering the surface with flower heads (Marguerites, Polyanthus or Anemones are a good choice). Such a ball of flowers can be hung up on a ribbon, or be placed on top of a short white rod held rigid in a flower pot of compost or sand. Cones of yellow Roses, Grapes and Ivy set on a pair of urns would be a handsome addition to a formal mantelpiece, and so would Redcurrants among white Nicotiana (Tobacco Plant).


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