Our challenge last week at the White Wedding Chapel was to arrange for a chuppah for a couple who wanted to integrate some tradition into their wedding ceremony, both Jewish and Christian. The chuppah is a traditional Jewish canopy under which the bride and groom stand for the marriage. It has beautiful symbolism: the fabric under which they stand represents the roof that they will live under and the open walls symbolize the walls of the home they will build together as the years roll by; and the openness also represents the welcome of family and friends. How lovely is that!
However, after looking up rentals (we discovered that you must book a chuppah almost a year in advance, and the price of the rental starts at around $1,000) we decided that we would design and construct it ourselves. Some lovely ones here at Rent A Chuppah (in Toronto’s Distillery District) if you decide to rent instead of designing and constructing your own.
We started by looking up DIY sites. Basically all you really need is a piece of fabric and some poles, with either people holding them (the friends and family as mentioned above) or secured in containers. The chuppah can be very plain to very fancy.
Pictured below: some samples of different containers for your chuppah ~ flower pots, tripod, buckets filled with cement of sand. Photo source: www.weddingbee.com; www.joyofweddings.blogspot.com; www.weddedluxe.blogspot.com.
But where to get the containers and the rest of the supplies and come in under $200? We wanted this to look pretty, not like a camping tent! We noticed that people on-line were placing the poles into clay pots and filled them with either sand, rocks or poured concrete into them.
Since clay pots are heavy, expensive and have the potential to break, we decided to get some white waste paper baskets from Dollarama in Niagara Falls that were just over 24″ high and would provide enough stability for the structure. Although not exactly appealing at first, they were quite pretty when decorated and they became useful during the construction! They had handles! We also chose to fill them with sand. We didn’t want the smell of moist soil in the chapel especially since the construction took place a few days before the wedding.
If you choose this method, make sure it is clean play sand that one would put into a sand box for kids. Its inexpensive and you can re-use it: fill up sand box, amend your garden soil with some of it for those plants that love loamy soil or donate to your family and friends!
Next we needed four poles. We got them at Home Depot in Niagara Falls where everyone was extremely helpful. The sales associate who helped cut the dowel held it so we could make sure it was the right height. We chose the largest dowel that we could find, about a inch in diameter. We had it cut to 7 feet, which we recommend for the general public since most guys are under 7 ft. (BTW, the groom and the best man at this wedding where both over 6 feet tall and it worked out great). Eight feet was way too tall, but if your going to marry a Yao Ming look-a-like, who is 7 foot 6, then you should go with the 8 footer. LOL
So we simply filled the buckets with sand, positioned them in the chapel and drove in the poles. Make sure that the poles area ll the way to the bottom of the container so that the heights are the same and they are stable.
When designing the chuppah we decided on a lighter weight fabric so that it wouldn’t cause too much sagging. We went to Fabricland in the Fabric District on Ottawa St. N. in Hamilton and chose a very fancy sheer fabric that had a scalloped edge on both sides with seed pearls and rhinestones.
The fabric was $27.00 a meter and we purchased 2.5 to allow for enough fabric to secure the ends to the poles. Make sure to look at the width when you buy it as not all fabrics are created equal in size. This fabric was 130 cm in width which was great because then we didn’t need to sew two pieces together. The chuppah itself doesn’t need to be a perfect square. In the end it was 6 feet long (the side with the scalloped edge) and 4 feet wide. My mom hemmed the cut edges by hand with a rolled hem and whip stitch while she watched Sherlock Holmes on PBS. It took her about an hour and a half to do the hemming.
We attached the fabric to the poles with some white curly ribbon and we also picked up some satin bows and some lovely white netting that had a slight shimmer to it that we hung down the poles to help cover them and the buckets while keeping the structure light and airy looking. We cut the netting into 9 foot lengths so we could add poof at the top and have it pool at the base.
It took us just over 2 hours to put it all together. It is definitely a two person job, and if you can get more to help then it will go a lot faster. Oh yes, don’t forget a ladder to tie everything on to the poles. And watch for sagging, because it will. We just took some more of the white curling ribbon and strung it tight underneath criscrossed to lift the fabric. We also added ribbon underneath the edge with the lace so that it gave the edge a clean look and helped show off the fancy fabric.
And that’s it. Two hours after pouring the sand we were done and the bride was very happy!
Thank you to Kelly Sade and Philip Boyd for the Chuppah Challenge! They were married at The White Wedding Chapel, Niagara Falls, Ontario on June 6, 2012.
Congratulations and Mazeltov from your family and friends and everyone at Niagara Falls Wedding World!
All the best! Jordin