Wedding Rituals and Customs 2: A History of the Wedding Arch and the Chuppah

Welcome to part 2 of our exclusive guide to the history of wedding rituals and customs.

Arch- picture c/o Lady Pinkie on pinterest.com
If you've read our introductory blog A Guide to Wedding Rituals and Customs, you’ll know why it is beneficial to understand the history and symbolism of the rituals and customs you choose to use on your very special day. Whether it’s the traditional white bridal gown, the page boy or the flower girl, or the exchange of rings, each ritual has its own unique symbolism, and is steeped in rich and, sometimes surprising, history. Today, we’re looking at the wedding arch…

Not only is it a lot of fun, but passing through a wedding arch, somehow conjures an aura of elven magic, fairytale enchantment, and knightly valour. If you are having an outdoor Handfasting Ceremony, or wedding ceremony, it is a fantastic and fascinating substitute for walking down the aisle. And you and your bow beneath the arch, looks absolutely beautiful in photos.

Did you know, that the Bride and Groom used to pass through an arch of swords to ensure safe passage into their new life together? 

Chuppah- picture c/o marthastewartweddings.com
As romantic as this might seem, doing that today might be a little kitsch for some, and a little dangerous for others!! The modern interpretation is the gorgeous wedding arch, often seen decorated with flowers, fairy lights, ribbons, balloons, and gorgeous fabrics. One of our staff members even chose to represent the wedding arch, with two flaming torches, their stakes decorated with beautiful flowers.

Similar to the arch is a Jewish Chuppah- a canopy strung on four poles: the four poles are held by four people that have special significance to the bride and groom: it is an honour, and a wonderful way to include four special people, in your wedding ceremony.

Ideal for a beach wedding, a Chuppah can provide shade for your ceremony to take place under. And it looks stunning in photographs.

Nets of Lights strung on trees
Picture c/o saveoncrafts.com
If you have a lot of guests, the Chuppah can be self-supported, which means people can join you beneath the canopy. We've seen Chuppah’s made of tye-dye and batik, great for an alternative, festival-loving couple, innovatively formed from nets of lights (similar to left), for those who love a little glamour and night life, and even camouflage, for army couples! It is a lovely Jewish tradition that can be an inspiration for non-Jewish couples alike.

Whether the Chuppah, or the wedding arch, both structures represent the new home that you and your partner will build, and the new family and life you will be building as well:

Your wedding arch is the doorway to the passage of your new life. Like stepping through a gate onto an unknown road, it has archetypal resonance with your guests, adding intrinsic meaning to your wedding. It represents a rite of passage, and the opportunity to physically embody this moment, for you and your partner. You go into the arch, as two single people, and are born, through the arch, out into the world again, a united force. The symbolism is similar to a baptism. It represents change.

If the idea of a wedding arch takes your fancy, and you have an eye for a bargain, included in Lily Blossom’s exclusive Forever Wedding package, is the exclusive hire of our gorgeous wedding arch for your special day. Consider having your arch decorated with seasonal flowers and lights for a magical feel. See the leaflet (right), and give us a call on 0208 979 5656, or email us for details.

Check out our guide to the history and symbolism of the lovely Flower Girl here, and subscribe for updates.

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