Between exchanging your vows, putting on your rings, and sharing that first kiss as a married couple, the ceremony is the most important (and most photographed) part of your big day. Of course, you want a beautiful wedding backdrop for such an important occasion!
That's where your wedding altar comes in, and your options here are truly endless—from flower-filled wedding arches and modern chuppahs to even a simple display of candles and a blanket. "Within the overall wedding design, you have a few choice moments that will make a tremendous impact," says Lindsey Boyce, owner of Host and Haven. "I think the ceremony, and specifically the altar, is one of those moments."
Meet the Expert
Lindsey Boyce is the owner of Host and Haven, a full-service event and home design firm based in South Carolina.
This one décor element will set the scene for the whole ceremony and define the entire wedding's design theme. "It's important to take all of the design elements into consideration and make sure you're looking at the whole scope when choosing your altar," says Boyce.
Everything from romantic rose-covered altars to natural tree-inspired designs have been used as altars by real couples at a variety of gorgeous venues. It's all about finding the ideal fit for you and your partner and the way your altar will tie in with the overall look and feel of your wedding.
Ready for some major inspiration? Here are 60 of our favorite wedding altar ideas to get you started on designing your own.
An Antique Folding Screen
If you're into the vintage vibe, look no further than an antique folding screen dressed with white blooms. This could serve as the ideal backdrop for saying your vows, and it's easy to move to incorporate into the reception later. "Your altar can also become a photo moment for guests during a cocktail hour and enjoyed as the day continues," says Boyce.
A Floral Covered Chuppah
This floral-covered chuppah is a showstopper from every single angle. We love the way every leg of the structure, and even the top, is decked out in florals and greenery. This is beautiful for a garden-inspired wedding, but we could imagine this look in the middle of a forest as well. What a stunning canopy!
Tropical White Curtains
What a beautiful display for a destination wedding on the beach! This tropical set-up makes quite a statement with a white curtained tent, paired with greenery and white florals. This is definitely an option to consider if you're hoping to make a splash, and the florals could be swapped out to match your floral design and color palette.
A Greenery-Covered Chuppah
Want a rustic outdoor wedding without worrying about the weather? This lush chuppah literally brought the outdoors inside. This is such a fun display for an industrial wedding, with beautiful greenery and simple candles. Could you imagine what it might look like with a colored candle to match your palette? Absolutely stunning.
A Wonderful Waterfall
Is it possible to find a more beautiful backdrop for an outdoor ceremony than this? This outdoor-loving couple utilized a waterfall as their altar, and we can't get over it! This was the perfect set-up for an outdoor summer wedding, with simple florals on either side of the couple to frame the moment.
A Statement Tree
Sometimes the most beautiful altar options are those already present in the landscape. We love the way this couple chose to incorporate a Joshua Tree into their ceremony, with the simple addition of lanterns for a splash of décor. Of course, this is a gorgeous set-up for a wedding in Joshua Tree National Park, but the same concept could be utilized in any National Park wedding.
This structure is simply perfection. This altar option is the perfect addition to a desert wedding. We love the two simple lanterns paired with this look. Could you imagine adding a boho-style rug to add a splash of color?
A Suspended Greenery Structure
Don't think you're limited to standing structures only. A suspended altar (of greenery) can be equally as eye-catching. We love the way this hanging altar pairs with greenery staged on the floor below. This look could be adapted for any industrial wedding, and various florals can be incorporated to accommodate so many looks.
A Birch Tree Structure
Boho brides, take note: This birch teepee is the perfect complement to a bright Persian rug. We're obsessed with this look; perfect for a lakefront wedding or a ceremony in the woods. Omit the rug or swap it out to accommodate any color palette.
A Circular Installation of Greenery
What's more beautiful: This greenery-lined aisle or the epic circle installation? The way the two décor elements work together is simply stunning. We love the idea of a circular altar, representing eternity, and it can be displayed with simple greenery or with the addition of florals to match any theme.
A Modern Chuppah
For this fashion-forward ceremony, the couple actually worked to design their modern chuppah together. The structure was adorned with orchids, calla lilies, and greenery for a simple, yet stunning look. We love this design for an outdoor sculpture park or garden wedding, keeping the structure design of the chuppah intact, and simply swapping out the floral design to match any theme.
Flags in the Round
What about a ceremony in the round? This unique set-up makes it so that you're literally surrounded by the ones you love most. Add a beautiful rug to mark where you'll say your vows, and enjoy having everyone near and dear with you to celebrate.
A Structure With Local Flora
It's smart to embrace the local flora—especially if you're having a destination wedding. The contrast of bright blue-hued water and bright fuchsia florals is simply stunning. Plus, with low-level seating, you'll know all of the attention of your set-up will be on you as a couple under the altar.
A Lovely Lavender Display
We bet this lavender-covered structure smells just as pretty as it looks. We love the way natural woods, lavender, and corresponding blooms were added to this display for a stunning ceremony. What a beautiful way to embrace your natural surroundings at an outdoor wedding, with a simple pop of color.
Cacti and Sheer Drapes
At this desert wedding, potted cacti, sheer draping, and a bohemian accent rug made for one beautifully unexpected combo. We love this look for a desert wedding, but it could easily be transformed for a woodsy wedding by trading those cacti for mini evergreen trees. And if you want more color to the look, simply go for a bolder rug.
A Wooden Pergola and Dried Flowers
Take this as proof that you can bring in décor (in this case, a wooden pergola and dried flowers) that looks as if it's forever meant to be. This altar had an old-time feel set against a beautiful historic building. And we love the way dried florals were incorporated to keep up with the Old West vibe.
A Statement Aisle
Now, this is how you do a statement altar and a statement aisle. What a way to make a grand entry, putting your altar center-stage no matter what angle you're looking at it from. Plus, we love the way this arch still shows off the beautiful backdrop, all while tying in greenery and beautiful florals.
An Installation Dripping With Florals
This display is just beaming with garden inspiration. If you're embracing the outdoors and having an outdoor wedding, you might as well go all in, right? We love the way this floral-forward display utilized a simple palette of green and white, with hanging florals and petals on the ground, but it could be adjusted to fit any floral color palette.
An Iron Gate
With an iron gate this pretty, you only need to add a few blooms (or nothing at all). We love the idea of finding a ceremony location with a beautiful backdrop already available on the grounds. This is the perfect setting for a rustic, garden-inspired wedding, with room to add a few simple floral touches to round it all out.
A Geometric Retro Altar
Looking for a cool, retro altar? We found your mid-century modern dream. This gold, geometric structure is perfect for making a simple, fun statement. And if you're not into gold, it can easily be changed to white, or maybe even black. We just love the simple floral display on one of the top corners, rounding out this sweet look.
Perfectly Framing Palm Fronds
What a stunning way to frame the ocean as your backdrop! "It's important to think about natural grains native to the area," says Boyce. "When looking at a space, think about the elements it already has. This will inevitably elevate your theme and style." This stunning set-up was the perfect way to incorporate natural elements from the area and make the blue ocean hues stand out even more.
Embracing a Stunning Setting
If you have an already stunning venue, don't let the décor take away from it too much. And that rule especially applies if you're getting married in a historic setting. There's no need to add any other décor elements here, as the venue can simply speak for itself, providing a beautiful backdrop as an altar.
A Simple Wooden Structure
This modern structure gets straight to the point. Set up for a super fun wedding in Palm Springs, this simple wooden display brought the couple together during a ceremony in the round. This minimalistic look is perfect for an outdoor wedding, and it could be customized with florals to fit any setting.
Macramé and Florals
Put trendy macramé front and center by designing your structure around it. There is no rule about choosing one décor element for your altar if you want to make a big splash. This couple utilized a wooden structure, decked with macramé, greenery, and even rugs to bring their palette of green, orange, and white together into one statement piece.
Accenting Ancient Ruins
We love a ceremony in the round, especially when it's set against the ruins of a gorgeous French château. And with a setting this beautiful, all you need to round it out is a simple altar. With a wooden structure, paired with white draping and simple hanging florals, this display is rustic and elegant.
A Display of Candles
We love the way this couple incorporated a simple display of candles as their backdrop, bringing together a gorgeous rustic vibe. "Don’t fight the grain," says Boyce. "It's important to be in tandem with where you are." And this look pulls that off perfectly, shining a light on the couple.
We love the contrast here between the black chuppah and clear ghost chairs. This is such a gorgeous way to make sure your altar is truly shining, without bold colors distracting from the chairs. Utilize this set-up idea for a beach wedding, creating a statement to draw your guests' eyes to the beautiful turquoise-hued sea.
A Vintage Mantle
Create a homey setting with a vintage mantle, greenery, and plenty of pillar candles. This set-up could be recreated in a historic venue such as a mansion, or even in an industrial warehouse venue if you're lucky enough to have a mantle on display. Switch up the color of candle holders or candles to fit your color palette.
This boho-inspired altar is simply a wall of wild crawling vines, and we're definitely here for it. "If the goal is to focus on the two of you, keep in mind where you want your eye to go," says Boyce. If you want to make sure the two of you as a couple are the main focus, consider a subtle, sweet, and simple option.
This backdrop of floor-grazing macramé and a hanging potted flower arrangement looks straight out of a home décor catalog—and for good reason. While the macramé backdrop is certainly fun on its own, the real hero here is the potted florals. Could you imagine adding a few more hanging pots to really make a splash?
A Natural Bundle of Logs
If you're embracing a super neutral backdrop, whether set in the desert or even a beautiful farm, why not stick with the theme with your altar? This couple brought a simple altar look together with three logs, adored with rocks at the base. This is the simplest idea to put together on your own, providing a unique backdrop for the most rustic, neutral vibe.
A Flower Filled Arch
Sometimes, you just have to go all-in on embracing bold florals. Whether for a garden-inspired tented dinner, a backyard wedding, or anything in-between, bringing a ton of flowers to the party is absolutely beautiful! This is one of the simplest ways to accommodate any wedding theme or color palette, simply by swapping out the type of blooms.
An Aisle of Greenery
We love the idea of going with a minimalistic look, especially for a church wedding. "Traditionally in a church setting, it's important to still connect the reception to the church," says Boyce. This altar of lush greenery and florals was complemented by an aisle of lush greenery, setting the tone for a beautiful outdoor garden reception to follow.
Individual Hanging Florals
Hoping for florals, but you don't want to go too bold with them? This display of individual hanging florals will do the trick! This couple wanted to add contrast throughout their wedding, and their use of white florals did just that. We love the way these florals are individually strung for a modern vibe.
Who says your altar needs to be standing up straight and tall? This display breaks the traditional rules of hanging greenery in the best way. With an asymmetrical design, with gaps in between each row, this is such a fun backdrop to utilize for a rustic wedding with a bit of elegance and historic charm.
A Geometric Frame
This look was all about embracing the existing surroundings. With pots of pampas grass, and a geometric, gold display, the neutral colors tied together perfectly. And while we love a good neutral color palette, perhaps the backdrop framed by the gold structure is what really makes this look shine even more.
A Barn Backdrop
Hosting a beautiful barn wedding? Why not utilize the barn to really tie in your theme! This simple altar put on a stunning display to draw attention to the barn. We could see this look without as many florals and greenery too, using a simple structure with the barn showing through even more.
Embracing an Organic Backdrop
Everyone loves an organic-looking backdrop in a natural setting, but we're especially into this iron arch covered in magnolia leaves. This was the most beautiful way to incorporate natural elements from the ceremony location. And with just the arch, without any other bright, bold pops of color, it still truly brings the eye to the natural elements being celebrated in this location.
Modern Meets Tropical
What a beautiful way to create a modern backdrop! This tropical wedding featured a large white structure with a cutout pattern, paired with a gorgeous addition of monstera palms. This is such a fun way to bring a modern touch to a tropical ceremony, but the palms could easily be swapped out for a floral display to fit any wedding theme.
A Decorated Arch
You would never be able to tell this arch was constructed from plain wood just by looking at it. The couple created a custom display for their ceremony, decorating the wooden arch with florals, dried palm leaves, and pampas grass. Additional pieces of wood were crafted and painted to create a stunning arch effect, making the most beautiful statement for a summer wedding.
A Heart Shaped Display
Why not make a bold and beautiful statement, and tell your guests just how much you love them too! Constructed with baby's breath that had been dyed pink, this altar was such a sweet touch, paired with pink pampas grass. But this concept could definitely be altered for any type of wedding, switching up the shape and color palette to accommodate another theme.
A Growing Tree
When you want to embrace natural beauty, making a statement with simple elements is definitely the way to go. This altar was constructed utilizing lunaria branches, providing the most beautiful backdrop. We just love the way the display looked as if it was continuing to grow around the happy couple.
A Vineyard Vibe
Planning a vineyard wedding? Embrace the natural beauty of grapevines and let them shine through your backdrop. We love the way this simple arch utilized greenery that resembled grape leaves. With very little distractions, it provided the most beautiful frame to showcase the stunning vineyard in the background.