Your Arch, Chuppah or Mandap: what it needs

Stone Tower Wedding with full floral arch. Photography by Candice Adelle.

Photography by Kelly Ewell.

Last week, I talked about how we constructed arches and Chuppahs, hoping to shed some light on what's involved in the design and construction of these beautiful "one-of-a-kind" structures. Again, I think it is so very important that brides and grooms understand what’s involved for two main reasons. First, when choosing a floral designer, you will want to be able to “speak the language” just enough to get a clear picture of what he or she will be doing to execute your design. Second, it helps you understand why your focal structure may cost a little bit more than you first anticipated.

This week, I want to talk more about the materials that we will use to create your vision. Here are the things that we consider when discussing your focal structure with you during your consultation.

1. What’s in the picture that you’ve shared with us?

  This is an on-site arch at Riverside on the Potomac. This is a partial floral arch. Photo by KayPea Photography.

This is an on-site arch at Riverside on the Potomac. This is a partial floral arch. Photo by KayPea Photography.

You may bring a couple of pictures with you to your consultation that you have pinned or saved for your own records. We love so many things that we have done and that we have seen on the internet. We also recognize that some of our favorites images on-line may have been created for a photo shoot or web-site. As an industry, we all try to put our best foot forward by demonstrating what we are truly capable of creating. For a one-time photo shoot, a floral designer will likely use more stems than we see on a typical wedding floral structure.

So, during our meeting, we will discuss the specific florals, greens and materials that we would need to use to capture your vision. We'll also assess whether the design can be accomplished within your budget. If the design is more extensive than you first imagined, we can discuss some options that will allow you to get something similar to your original inspiration.

Same structre as above at Riverside on the Potomac, with draping, different colors and floral varieties. Photography by Jessica Latos.

Want to get a sense for the projects complexity before your consult? Try this trick. Count the number of flowers on the arch in your favorite image. Are there 50, 75, 100 or even more blooms? Are there three different flowers, seven, or even ten or more? 

2. How big is the structure we are using?

Many arches, Chuppahs or Mandaps are seven to eight-foot high and anywhere from six to ten-foot wide. They’re really pretty big (like a small shed) as they frame the officiant and wedding couple (arch), provide a canopy for a bride, groom and rabbi (Chuppah) or have room enough to seat a bride, groom and their parents (Mandap).

Here’s my concern, if we try to save money by minimizing the number of stems and that we use, we risk sacrificing the impact of your arch. Your guests may not notice that the design is thin, but you might, and that’s that last thing that we want.

3. How will we achieve the fullness you are looking for?

The arch at Oatlands in historic Leesburg, Virginia. Click here to view their web-site. Photography by Molly Tobias.

First, let’s consider a combination of florals and greenery that allows us to cover more of the structure. I love "full floral" designs like the one on the top of this page, and if it fits in your budget – let’s go for it, it will be gorgeous. Greenery does, however, create a very natural look. Remember, we are trying to mimic an outdoor structure cultivated by a master gardener. The arch at Oatlands Historical House and Gardens (Leesburg, Virginia) is naturally greened-in, we add beautiful fresh flowers to create your specific design. 

Second, there are floral varieties that we can use that add fullness to your design, offering versatility in color and shape. Each of the flowers shown in this graphic are great substitutes for more expensive flowers. They can be used in combination with some of your favorite focal flowers, or we can use them exclusively selecting the colors from your palette. It’s important to remember that your guests will be 12 to 15 feet away. Even if you are using Peonies everywhere else in your decor, we can still design an arch that captures your look using a combination of flowers with your signature flower.

Fabric helps, too. It's pefect for the romantic look. We can use white, ivory and champagne and will likely add new colors to our inventory in 2018. 

Our goal will be to create cohesion with the designs in your décor and your arch. We will also want to talk about the natural shape of the structure, whether it is one of ours or on-site at your venue. Texture, contrast in color (even if the color is in shades of the same color) and focal points that draw the eye are all important parts of the design. Want to learn more about how arches and Chuppahs are made? Use the link below.