What is a Wedding Arch?

Lori Smith
Lori Smith
Wedding arches may be decorated with different flowers chosen by the couple.
Wedding arches may be decorated with different flowers chosen by the couple.

A wedding arch is a tall, rounded structure — often adorned with fabric or flowers — that is used as the focal point for a wedding ceremony. The bride and groom usually stand under the arch, or directly in front of it, when reciting their vows. Wrought iron, plastic, and wood are among the most common materials that make up these structures. Some arches are portable, while others are designed for permanent placement, particularly in a garden setting.

Elaborate decorations are sometimes used to enhance a wedding arch. The basic structure may be adorned with flowing fabrics, lush foliage, and flowers in coordinating colors to complement the tones and theme of a wedding. Many event planners offer portable versions as a rental item, and incorporate a decorated wedding arch into an overall event design.

Sometimes, a wedding arch can be constructed of two basic pipes. A set of heavy bases usually secure the structure. In this instance, flowers and foliage can completely cover the metal pipes. Then, the arch effect is created with a rounded support piece overhead that connects the two poles. The center arch is usually made with either a curved metal section, carved wood, flowering branch arrangements, or other natural elements. When complete, the mechanics of the arch can be entirely masked with adornments, to create a striking setting for ceremony.

A bride and groom may also choose to rent a portable wedding arch. Some options are quite elaborate in their decor and require little to no additional enhancement. Others are very basic. The more simple and economical choices often require additional adornment.

To achieve a traditional look for a wedding arch, white or ivory sheer fabric is sometimes incorporated into the overall design, or used exclusively without any flowers. To carry out a theme, the same fabric used on the arch can also be used in other ceremonial items. For example, matching fabric can be swagged down the aisle and connected to each end-of-aisle chair. This creates a swooping, or scalloped, appearance down the aisle, as well as a romantic path for the bride.

If a bride and groom decide to rent a wedding arch for outdoor use, certain logistical issues should be taken into consideration. For instance, the structure should be protected from the elements, such as wind. It may need to be secured using cables or monofilament — a clear, heavy fishing line — if it is erected near some other sturdy structure. If not, sandbags or cinder blocks may be used to weigh it down at the base, to keep it from toppling over if blustery weather is a concern. These weights can be covered with fabric, foliage, or flowers.

Discussion Comments


@Mor - I'd rather have an arch that was unique and had a special memory for me than something taken from a bunch of stock photos and imposed on my big day. And they aren't that difficult to make if you just want a plain and simple single arch. I've seen some beautiful rustic ones where they basically just tied a few tree branches together.


@Fa5t3r - I wonder if it wouldn't be cheaper to just go and get a garden arch in the first place and just spray paint it and decorate it. They basically look exactly the same as a wedding arch and at least then you would know it would be able to last outside.

You might also want to ask your photographer what they recommend, as a lot of the time it seems people only want the wedding arch in order to take traditional photos with it and you might be able to get away with a wedding arch rental, or even the photographer shopping you into a wedding arch photo after they take the pictures.


One thing you might want to consider if you are making your own wedding arch, or buying a structure to use for one, is getting something that will suit your garden after the ceremony is over. Rather than just throwing it away, you can reuse a wedding arch in a garden as a place to grow roses or vines that can provide shelter or a welcoming area for guests.

But, if you get a very cheap, disposable arch for the wedding, it won't be able to stand up to the elements once you put it outside. So keep that in mind if you want to be able to reuse it.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • Wedding arches may be decorated with different flowers chosen by the couple.
      By: photografer1980
      Wedding arches may be decorated with different flowers chosen by the couple.