Week 11 - Arbors, Chuppahs and Mandaps

Arbors, Mandaps and Chuppahs

So our clients get married in front of and inside of structures. There are so many options available and so many that will continue to spring up. However, the types of ceremonies and these three basic structures have been staples since I have been in the wedding and event business.

My best advise for every event florist is to purchase a set of pipe and base that can be used for any of the three structures. Here is a link to purchase the most basic adjustable pipe and base set. Purchasing two of these will give the flexibility to create an arbor, mandap or chuppah.


It is important to understand the basics of the ceremonies you may be asked to flower so that you can give educated advise to clients. I have added some links below that include the traditions as well as the florals needed.

Jewish and Orthodox Jewish Weddings




Indian Weddings




Chinese Weddings



Korean Weddings


Japanese Weddings


African Weddings




Arbors come in infinite designs. However, there are a few hard and fast design rules that make your structure stand above the rest.

First, be sure to use the back section of the arbor to create depth when designing your florals.

Second, you can concentrate color by clustering one type of flower in sections or blend all the colors by designing each cage with a mix. You can ombre the color for drama or keep it monocromatic. All the rules of color theory can really be expressed in large designs.

Third, drama is your friend. Add draping amaranthus to you arbors to create drama and interest. Use large branches of foraged foliage to break the lines and add girth. Let some flowers gesture and dance above the design. Be sure to break the line with varying foliages and flowers so that it isn't too clean. I always add a "skirt" to my arbors to give the allusion that is larger and to create some foreground.

Fourth, be sure to design from the angle that the photographer and guests will see and take pictures. So the back should be finished and mechanics should be covered. The angle that the guests sit is to the right and left so the interior of the sides should be complete and not flat.

Last, the arbor should be placed so that the view through it is pleasing in the photograph. If its placement doesn't allow for the then possibly placing a drape behind it is a solution. I also suggest that if the wedding requires a table then rent a wood table to the couple so that every image doesn't have that standard round table with the white cloth on it.

Rectangle Shape

Arbors come in a number of shapes. A rectangle shape can be created using pipe and base and then adding either fabric, birch, curly willow, smilax or just about anything to cover the poles that you like.

Arched Shape

My favorite is the arched arbor. I love the softness and fluidity of this shape. I prefer an arched arbor with some depth like this trellis arbor we had made for us. This arbor was designed so it could be either two arbors or one chuppah using a center connecter piece.

Single Pipe Shapes

Broken arbors and climbing flowers can all be created by using a single pipe and base. If the shape needs to curve then ziptieing a branch to the top will create the curve. Make sure the branch is secured in two spots with zip ties and that the base is weighted. You can get weights through the pipe and base company or use heavy rocks.

Chuppahs and Mandaps

Technically, a Mandap is a wider and sometimes taller version of a Chuppah so I group these together. Any space large enough to fit what the ceremony requires under it is the size you will build. Often these structures are on lifted up on small stages but sometimes they are not. Draping the top can be done simply or more elaborately depending on the structure. Often a Talis is given by the family in a Jewish ceremony to add to the top to cover. I like a loose paneled drape because I love the drama. I also like to keep it simple for a cleaner or modern look.

The design principles are the same but include 4 posts instead of two. Make sure to include flowers on the back posts as well and at an angle that the guests can see. Even some greenery on the inside is better than a flat structure.

Watch the Video Part 1 and 2



Time to Practice

Please write your recipe down in the style format (medium rounds, laterals etc...).

Please record yourself designing the arbor and watch it. Critique your work using the principles and elements of design.

After you finish then photograph it from the angle that the event guests would see it. So in the case of a wedding arbor, mandap or chuppah show image straight on and also seated from right and left sides. This way you can see if your design is lush and dimensional.

Complete and Continue