Backdrops can be tricky. On the one hand you want them to be beautiful, but only as an accessory to the bride and groom. The prettiest thing up there should be you. Your guests shouldn’t say “excuse me, lady in white? You’re blocking the view.” However at some point you won’t be up there yet, and the backdrop is there to set the scene, to provide some context. It is an expression of, “This is our vibe. This is the party you’re attending, as represented by our decor.” It’s the hors d’oeuvre to the main course, the couple in love.
You have an opportunity for this design choice not only at the altar, but also behind the head table, should you decide to have one. It can also be used at the entrance to your reception where guests may want to take a photo, or where your cake or gifts will be displayed. Perhaps each of these places could use the same background, or something similar to jive nicely while being unique to each location. Lisa Loosen with Heavenly Creations Events notes that trends lately lean toward the earthy, nature based aesthetic, “with or without the greens, the flower strands, anything wood, metal or round (hoops). Bohemian/boho-chic, metallics, geometrics.” She suggests softer colors in keeping with today’s style, however as with all fashion, deeper colors are on the horizon.
Rustic touches like these might be right up your alley in keeping with a romantic, ethereal atmosphere. After all, weddings can be many things- playful, exciting, elegant, even casual, but romance should be the thread woven throughout. Danielle Cole with Alfa Flowers has also seen a demand for neutral tulle designs incorporating lots of greenery, even a floral swag to tie in with other arrangements in the ceremony. Hoops are big for these designs as well, noting “using one hoop as a focal point really brings your eye to the center where all the action is happening anyway, with the added bonus of only having to hang one.” Imagine the subtext of standing together in front of a golden toned or birch hoop while giving your vows, as though you are standing in a spotlight, or a full moon. What emphasis that small detail adds to such a moment in your lives.
Other more “boho” options you might consider according to Melissa Maas at Bank of Flowers could be a macramé curtain or tapestry, a hedge of potted arborvitae or boxwoods, or a floral wall, which is just as it sounds. What a dreamy scene, marrying amidst a blanket of ranunculus and peonies, wafting your way with every breath. And don’t forget the original backdrop, Mother Nature herself. If you are planning an outdoor wedding, it’s possible the landscape behind you is more striking than anything you could have ever designed yourself. If indoors, is there a fireplace or eye-catching decor you could incorporate? In either case, a simple arch or standing planters frame your ceremony perfectly while bringing the focal point back to where it belongs: You. (Okay, your fiancé, too.)
If your opinion of arches is of lackluster predictability, well, think again, according to Stephanie with Cover it with Class. This old standby has come a long way, with updated triangular and circular shapes for a more modern or new age feel. Think about creating a vignette within the arch, “with backdrops featuring crystals and chandeliers to create positive vibes and energy for the evening.” Stephanie suggests using imagination with your ceremonial mandap or chuppah as well, noting cultural tradition need not be staid or stale either. Incorporating warm lighting with cultural regalia “will create a glow and enhance the design of the overall look.”
Lisa reminds us glitz is always “in,” with many couples opting for strands of crystals, pearls, glittering lights, and billows of curtains. The inherent shimmer and drama of these elements really dresses up a space, adding sophistication while keeping things spirited and fun. Play with lighting so that it hits the sparkle just right, experiment with uplighting for an old Hollywood feel, or soft, twinkly lights for a magical, wintery mood.
Abstract and creative scenery can be a memorable touch, since it more pointedly speaks to your personalities. An idea might be to blow up your vows, a love note, or your fiancé’s proposal speech, and have them printed onto a neutral backdrop, in your own handwriting or an elegant font. Using a light projector, cast your new shared initials onto a darker colored screen, or a symbol that means something to you both. For example, two passionate deer hunters may choose to stand before a silhouette of trophy antlers. Another idea is to incorporate photographs and repeat your vows amongst countless images of framed family wedding photos, a welcoming to the tribe of “’til death do us part.”
Like all wedding décor, altar designs are your opportunity to set a tone. However because its whole job is to highlight you, it carries with it a special responsibility. You might say your backdrop is your wingman. It should contrast you just enough that you stand out, but also blend seamlessly with your style. It should look great on its own, but it must really let you shine once you enter the room. It should make a statement, but not so loudly no one hears your “I do.” Basically, it should have your back.