Make a white garden arch that brims with flowers from the garden. Hydrangeas, allium, and clematis come together to create a pretty purple display.

Couples of many customs and cultures say their vows while standing beneath a wedding arch or arbor—in the Jewish tradition, called a chuppah. To floral educator Alicia Schwede, these botanical structures often take on a personal meaning for today’s nuptials. “I like how romantic arbors look, especially when decorated with flowers,” says Schwede, who also publishes Flirty Fleurs, a floral design blog. “I try to design with flowers that bring back memories for a bride or groom, perhaps of grandmother’s garden, or of the place and time of the ceremony.”

This simple white arch is an inexpensive yet elegant option for a wedding backdrop. Full hydrangeas serve as the base, with purple flowers in different sizes and textures to break it up. A silky curtain adds movement and softness to the streamlined arch. Here's how to make it.

  • Working time 3 hrs
  • Start to finish 3 hrs
  • Difficulty Kind of easy
  • Involves Carpentry Skills
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What you need

Tools
Materials
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How to do it

Step 1

Assemble Arch

Cut an L-shape notch at the top of each 4×4 post (A) to accommodate the horizontal 2×6 board (B). The notches should be approximately 1 1/2 inches deep and 2 1/2 inches high. Lay the posts on the ground, notches facing up. Rest the 2×6 board on the notches and secure with two bolt-and-nut fasteners. Tap two small nails, side by side, at the top of each post so they are hidden behind the horizontal board; the nails will hold the curtain rod in place on top of the arch. Insert fence posts in the ground at least 18 inches deep, two for each side of the arch. Stand the arch up and securely attach the wood posts with several 1 1/2-inch wood screws through the holes in the fence posts.

Editor's Tip

Editor's Tip

This project requires a helping hand or two to assemble and erect the arch safely. It’s also important to anchor it against wind and passersby. Be sure to insert supporting U-posts securely in the ground and fasten them firmly to the wood posts.

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Step 2

Attach Floral Foam

Mark placement of the caged foam bricks across the top board, spacing them evenly. Soak foam thoroughly in water before attaching the caged foam bricks to the top board with 1 1/2-inch wood screws.

Editor's Tip

A Word About Floral Foam

Floral foam is a standard material used by professionals. Because it is not biodegradable, some prefer not to use it. You can experiment with other options, such as wrapping small pieces of chicken wire around wet moss and mounting, or using floral tubes to keep stems hydrated.

Step 3

Place Foliage First

Begin designing with foliage first, using the stems’ lines to define the overall shape. Insert stems in the wet foam, placing some stems facing upward. Place others downward or to the sides to hide the hardware and corner joints of the arch.

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Step 4

Add Hydrangeas

Add hydrangeas to build up masses of color and hide the mechanics of the foam and holders across the top board. Their large, clustered blooms are perfect as the base flower.

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Step 5

Add Textural Flowers

Add textural elements by scattering assorted flowers—Schwede used allium, Cerinthe, lady’s mantle, and clematis—along the length of the design. The texture of the lady’s mantle breaks up the density of the hydrangea masses.

Step 6

Fill in Flowers

Add single stems of lupines, accent flowers, and assorted foliage to give the design movement. “I like to blend colors and forms so that the eye travels across the top of the arbor,” Schwede says.

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Step 7

Slide Curtain Onto Rod

Slide the curtain onto the rod. Rest the ends of the curtain rod on top of the posts between the nails.

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