Chuppahs and Arbors: The Art of the Wedding Arch

Kelley Truxel has been helping couples choose the perfect flowers for their wedding since 2004. Her company, Event Studio, focuses on all aspects of wedding design and coordination. Kelley’s daughter, Kate and her fiancé, Jake, will be getting married at East Lynn Farm in 2017.  We interviewed Kelley to get her take on chuppahs and wedding arbors. 

Why do some couples choose to marry under a chuppah or wedding arbor?

A chuppah is a traditional Jewish wedding canopy that symbolizes the home that a couple will build together. It typically has four poles and is 8’ x 8’. Chuppahs can be covered or open on top. Couples often use a tallit (a Jewish prayer shawl) as a cover to honor a living family member or to remember someone who cannot be present at the wedding.

This chuppah was designed simply with greens, roses, and a few hydrangea. The canopy is a tallit provided by the bride’s father.


Chuppahs are sometimes used by couples who are a mix of Jewish and non-Jewish faiths to bring a Jewish element into the ceremony. The ceremony below was conducted by both a priest and a rabbi, combining Jewish and Catholic traditions.

Mixed faith

Wedding arbors have no connection to Judaism, but they are beautiful and provide an intimate altar area – a smaller space within the larger ceremony space — for the couple and the clergy. Since many couples want their ceremony photographed, being surrounded by flowers makes for beautiful pictures.

This arbor used at a non-Jewish ceremony features hydrangea and roses with lush greens for a bohemian feel.

nonJewish wildflowers

What are some of the considerations when designing a chuppah or arbor?

The altar area can be styled many ways.  It depends on the personality of the wedding. If a very flowery reception is planned, we generally do a flowery ceremony site. If a bride wants a simple reception, we can do the same for the ceremony. And some couples like to mix it up by doing a combination of decorative for one part and simple for the other.

This simple arbor was made by the groom. Photo by Photography Du Jour.

simple arch

In contrast, the arbor we designed for Melanie and Max’s wedding began as a wrought iron arch. We covered it with a lush garland of garden roses, hydrangea, snapdragons and greens.

wrought iron arch

What advice do you have for couples who want to incorporate chuppahs and arbors into their ceremony?

I’d tell them to use Pinterest sparingly. When brides fall under “under the Pinfluence,” they want exactly what they see online, rather than something that expresses their unique personality and style. I try to encourage brides to think beyond what seems beautiful at the moment and go for something that will mean something to them in the future when they look back on their wedding day. There are many ways to do this, including incorporating a type of flower that reminds a bride of her grandmother or bringing in natural elements for couples who are outdoorsy.


What are some examples of couples customizing chuppahs and arbors to fit their style?

Recently, I worked with a couple in DC named Macey and Boris. They both went to school in Alabama and wanted to honor southern tradition.  They incorporated their love of all things southern into the ceremony by letting us design an altar with magnolia, roses, hydrangea and lilies.


Another time, I had a bride who was a lifelong gardener. Her husband built this arbor for their wedding ceremony. We dressed it with sprays of luxurious flowers, including peonies, roses, and hydrangea, snap dragons, and curly willow to reflect her love of gardening. While chuppahs and arbors are often rented and returned after the wedding, this arbor is now in their yard. Photo by Rick Martin.

arbor made by groom

Are you planning to use an arbor for your daughter’s wedding at East Lynn Farm?

Yes!  The tree line in the ceremony site is going to serve as a beautiful giant arbor. We plan to use lace and chandeliers draped in the trees to create a romantic and unique ceremony space.


Photo credits in order of appearance: Gabe Aceves PhotographyConnor Studios, Leo Druker Photography, Photography Du Jour, Amy Lutz PhotographyAmy Lutz PhotographyConnor Studios, and Rick Martin.

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