Top Ideas for Adding “Wow” to That Wedding Arch


Thinking of using a wedding arch? You’re not alone — for many brides, they serve as an indispensable grace note when it comes to getting married in a garden or park, in a spacious backyard or by the sea. A given arch might not look imposing, but even a simple one has a way of powerfully framing you both, whether you’re standing against the giant sweep of the ocean, or saying your “I Do”s in an otherwise undistinguished space like a gym or movie theater.

Finding Your Wedding Arch

You can buy a relatively simple white, metal wedding arch at major craft stores for between $20 and $40. If you want something more elaborate — or wooden, more like a chuppah — you’ll want to either hit up a rental shop, select a cool pattern for fabric printing or have your family construct one. Most wedding arches are a quick build for someone with a little woodshop experience.

 

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Want to get yours online? Try simple tubular metal arches from Joann’s or Michael’s. You can also often find more elaborate arches on eBay. Here’s one alternative to the classic metal or wood: balloon arches. If the mere thought of balloons in weddings doesn’t break you out in hives, these can sometimes surprise you, with their soft tulle bases and understated balloons resembling pearls. Check into local balloon artists if you think this might work for you.

Special Tips for Beach Brides

Tying the knot in the islands? Try making a quick and easy four-footed chuppah out of bamboo poles. Ask around at hardware or lumber stores for a local supplier (yes, even the islands have hardware stores!).

Want to get yours online? Try simple tubular metal arches from Joann’s or Michael’s. You can also often find more elaborate arches on eBay. Here’s one alternative to the classic metal or wood: balloon arches. If the mere thought of balloons in weddings doesn’t break you out in hives, these can sometimes surprise you, with their soft tulle bases and understated balloons resembling pearls. Check into local balloon artists if you think this might work for you.

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Or if you don’t want the chuppah but do want stability in the inevitable breeze, set each post in the sand, anchoring them in sand-filled buckets. Then pin, wire, tape or tie your ribbons or organza panels to the top for romantic flutter. (Popular tools for making things stick or hang: safety pins, white florist’s tape, craft wire or microfilament — also known as fishing line).

Even if you’re bringing a prefab arch to a beach site, make sure it’s secured properly. A sudden gust of wind can send it tumbling unless it’s dug deep into the soil or sand. Post hole diggers are what you want for all but the most windless days. Remember to compensate by buying, renting or building a relatively tall arch.

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Finally, a word to the wise: if you’re having a destination wedding, be sure to check out the wedding arch fees. Sometimes packages merely say, “wedding arch extra,” potentially leading the bride to a coronary when she finds that rental and decor costs add up to $300-400 … or even more. If your guest list contains some handy family members, skip the rental fees and ask them to make you an arch of wood or bamboo. It’s not that hard, even on site.

The Zen of Decorating

You buy your arch. You set it up. Your heart sinks as you wonder, “What do I do with this bare, white thing?”.  Don’t panic. Adding a touch of romance to your arch is simpler than it looks.

The Classic Arch

Most brides want to soften the arch’s hard lines. A great place to start: drape it in a gauzy base of tulle or organza. If you’re starting with a prefab arch and long, narrow rolls of tulle, try draping the tulle down the top of the front and back U-shapes, pinning every rung or two, leaving a little extra fabric at each rung so it “pools.” Or if your fabric’s almost as wide as the arch is deep, cover the whole thing, again pinning at every one or two rungs.

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Done? Clap yourself on the back (or break into one of those celebratory bottles of bubbly). Now, you could pin a sash across the back, or attach more tulle to the front on the left and right sides, pulling it out to create a long, gauzy aisle. Form this aisle fabric into swags that dip from pedestals, tiki torches, shepherd’s hooks or whatever fits your decor.

But enough of tulle: now for the real fun. You can quickly finish this project off by tarting up the arch’s top with a garland. It can be silk or natural, maple leaves or ivy, sunflowers or roses. Or, get slightly fancier: wire a single floral wreath or pomander ball to the apex of the arch. Or, take the three-point approach, tying floral arrangements at the top and both sides, about halfway down or a little higher (heavier elements like these require wire).

And if that’s still not enough, decorate with three-point florals, and add a tall arrangement — think bare branches, bittersweet or topiaries — to the base on each side.

The Gothic Arch

Use a simple, dark arch that rises to a dramatic point; leave the lines clean and unadorned. Hang an enormous floral kissing ball in pale white or pink from the apex.

The Asian Arch

Create a simple, square “arch” out of lashed-together bamboo poles. Adorn the corners and the base with bright red anthuriums, red heliconias, dendrobium orchid sprays and plenty of tropical foliage.

The Autumn Arch

Anchor this arch in large vintage milk jugs or urns filled with cattails, and trail strands of faux maple leaves over the sides. Dress the arch with more faux leaves, coneflowers, red lobelia, salvia, and Lavender Lady. Tuck bright red apples into the foliage. Accent the base with potted millet grass and mums.

The Floral Arch

Covered from top to toe, the floral arch is a living sculpture that shouts “major occasion.” The greens and blooms and on this arch seem to be floating in air, with the flowers appearing immensely heavy and the arch insubstantial. The floral arch is a job for the pro — grand, with a price tag to match.

The Woodsy Arch

Add a more unexpected texture by strapping birch branches (available at craft stores) or grapevines to the sides of your arch. Or instead of a fabric or ivy base, attach garlands of ferns.

The Beachy Arch

Beach wedding arches often go the classic route, but a beautiful alternative for your beach wedding is to attach organza in simple, free-flowing swags, and dangle large seashells and starfish from the apex (the larger, the better).

The Tropical Arch

Made entirely of palm tree fronds, the tropical arch creates a sharp, dramatic and slightly masculine silhouette.

The Christmas Arch

Cover your arch in pine or fir branches (a DIYer can do this; just cut and arrange your branches the day before the wedding). Wrap twinkle lights around the arch in a candy cane pattern, and hang a silk poinsettia kissing ball from the top.

Okay, But What About Arch Alternatives?

Sometimes you need a focal point, but arches just aren’t firing you up. Some great-looking alternatives:

  • A simple chuppah or mandap (Indian)
  • A flat arbor screen, with potted arrangements on each side
  • A large, low-hanging tree
  • A gazebo
  • A grape trellis

Finally, it’s nice to remember that many wedding professionals jazz up their arches by hanging satin ribbons or silk filament from the back in long, even strands. This creates a hanging curtain of sorts, which you can personalize even more with items that match your theme: seashells and starfish, pinecones and maple leaves, or silk plumeria, orchids or Gerber daisies. And if Mother Nature gives you a slight breeze that day, so much the better.

Talk the Tulle!

What types of goodies are you putting on your arch? How does it fit with the rest of your wedding style? Trade ideas … and pics … below!