Our ceremony arch was definitely a highlight from our wedding. And truthfully, if you can believe it, it was one that I was able to pull off last minute. You might remember that we only had a few weeks to get everything together (here’s the behind the scenes of our pandemic wedding). Of course one of the most central pieces totally slipped my mind.
But it turns out that you can make an affordable and unique altar in a pinch with fabric! If you’re short on time, or just looking for an easy decor idea, here’s how we made our colorful wedding altar:
We were lucky enough to have a structure on our venue property. And most likely, unless you have a backyard wedding, your wedding venue will have one too. Whether you’re using an existing structure, or building your own, start this project by measuring your altar. This will help you know how much fabric to order.
Picking the right fabric, and ordering enough, is key for this project. I used polyester chiffon fabric for a few different reasons:
1. It’s affordable! At around $2.50 a yard, it was one of the more budget friendly fabrics, especially for the amount needed.
2. The fabric wrinkles less noticeably. I love cotton as a fabric to wear, but when there’s limited time to set up at the venue, ironing 50 yards of fabric just wasn’t on the list. The fabric still wrinkled, but it was slight and didn’t distract from the overall design.
3. Polyester chiffon comes in some incredible bright colors. I loved how vibrant and bold the fabric was! I ordered samples first, but then ordered larger quantities of pink, orange, sunflower yellow, turquoise, and royal blue. These were our wedding colors for other decor + wardrobe as well.
4. Overall sheerness and movement. I love that some sunlight was able to shine through the fabric and that it had great movement for our outdoor wedding. The ends moved so nicely with a slight breeze and it had an organic feel when it was draped across the altar.
Even if you get a different fabric, just make sure that it can be easily moved and shaped. Anything too rigid won’t work. Getting a sample piece beforehand will help you get a better idea of how it will drape.
I know wedding planning can be stressful, but I promise this is a project you can pull off!
For reference, our altar measured 8′ x 8′. I ordered 10 yards of each fabric (50 yards total) and there was enough leftover to drape along the bottom. Again, measure and remeasure your altar so you know exactly what you need. If you’re nervous about having enough, you can always order an extra yard or two of each color and then cut on site.
Our florist, Devon and Pinkett, assembled everything together. The structure on site had slats along the top, so fabric was easily woven in between. If yours is flat across, but still want the draped effect, make sure you bring items to secure the fabric in place. It might take some trial and error before you get it right, so don’t be afraid to try a mock setup at home first!
To create dimension, have your fabric hang and drape at different points. Larger vs smaller swoops and then more or less fabric on the ends will help give the entire altar flow.
And of course, if you want to really punch up the color, add flowers on top to finish! These could be ones that your florist adds, or you could spray paint faux flowers ahead of time. I love that our flowers matched the bridesmaid bouquets. Hanging the flowers over the side of the groomsmen also helped bring balance to our ceremony.
Not only did the altar serve as a pop of color for our ceremony, but it was also the perfect place to take photos in front of and underneath. Some of my favorite photos of the day were taken underneath it (see below). It also really helped tie our color palette together. We used the same colors on the altar that the bridesmaids and groomsmen wore!
Our venue wasn’t really naturally colorful (most are neutral), so creating those central points of color for key moments and photos help make everything brighter. Sometimes you have to bring the color, you know?
Considering that most of your photos and the main point of your wedding will happen in front of the altar, you should definitely have it be something that you’ll love. I would even say that if your floral budget is small, focus on the altar bouquet instead of individual pieces for the dining room.
But also feel free to do what you want– it’s your big day!
Maybe a fun wall hanging, a weaving, or even stitching them all together to make a table cloth? I haven’t come up with what to do with ours just yet, but when I do, you know I’ll share here. And if you have any ideas, let me know because I have 50 yards of fabric sitting around just waiting to be used!
Let me know if you have any questions! Can’t wait to see what colors you choose for your wedding arches!