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.”
Schwede and her husband, Chad Siedlik, teamed up to design and build garden arches and arbors suitable for attaching willow branches, vines, and flowers for her clients’ wedding ceremonies. They also researched and created traditional chuppah structures, which play an important part in many Jewish ceremonies as symbols of shelter and protection.
“A floral structure can be used to visually define the location where vows are taken, or create a lovely backdrop and frame the couple for photography,” Schwede says. “It’s important to choose a garden arbor style that reflects the space, whether it’s indoors or outdoors.”
Assemble garden arch according to instructions. Apply spray paint in alternating layers of brown and gold to create an irregular barklike finish. For a warmer look with a more rustlike hue, incorporate bronze spray paint instead of gold.
Sink fence posts in the ground. Then, secure the arch to the posts with floral wire. You want to make sure to create a sturdy base, so add as much wire as needed.
Weave lengths of curly willow branches up one side and over the top of the arch. Continue weaving to the opposite side. “The more willow you use, the more it helps make the metal disappear,” floral educator Alicia Schwede says.
Layer Italian ruscus through the willow, weaving with an in-and-out pattern. Italian ruscus is a classic green filler to accent bouquet, centerpieces, and other floral arrangements. Weaving the green foliage through will soften the willow branches and add romantic style.
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