Under the Alter

Coco Dietz

Call to your mind a “wedding” and one thing you’ll probably see is a couple standing hand in hand in front of a beautiful set piece. Think of a “modern wedding” and you’ll probably see an archway; decked out in flowers, probably wooden, and pretty simplistic. Since weddings are ceremonies, they require a focal point to draw the eyes of the audience. From the beginning of weddings, humans have looked for ways to expand upon the symbolism of the act with a beautiful prop–we want the pictures to look gorgeous.

Currently, the arch has a grip on weddings. They are versatile, easy to make, and customizable. You can have it made of any material, from wood to metal to pure foliage. It can be a square, a triangle, or a circle (which is gaining rapid popularity). The shape and accessories can correspond to your personal view of the relationship–is your love a never-ending ring or are you building a sturdy, rectangular structure to build your life upon? It’s all up to you. 

The archway can also serve as a more flexible way to give your location a frame. The beach can seem flat and empty without a floral archway to bring the eye back to you and your partner. 

Since so much of the American wedding tradition is tied to the church, expectations of what a wedding should look like closely resemble the aisle of pews that lead to the altar, where, ideally, there should be a beautiful stained-glass window that frames the couple as they say their vows. And if this is what you envision and an acceptably beautiful church is in your area, then the old way might be best for you. And if you would like to have your wedding outdoors or somewhere less traditional, but you still want that wedding feel, then a gorgeously decked out table or an archway might be what you’re looking for. 

But always keep in mind that a wedding is what you make of it, and there is no mold or template that produces a “correct” wedding. Nothing should keep you from doing what makes you happy. Get married in front of an aquarium, on a stage, or on a dock. Do you when you say “I do”.