How to Make a Wedding Canopy Tent

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If you're of the impression that canopy tents are exclusive to Jewish weddings, you'll be surprised to learn that this tradition has, at one time or another, been a decorating requirement for weddings conducted in French, Chinese, Swedish, Finnish, Italian, British and other Mideast and European societies. Of particular note were the lavish canopies courtiers stitched for King Henry VIII's many ceremonies. If you'd like to craft your own version of this ceremonial cloth, you've come to the right place. This article will walk you through the fabrication process and give you construction options that can easily be tackled by brides with few sewing skills.

Things You'll Need

  • Yards of fabric or linen napkins to fit tent specs Sewing machine Thread and pins Wire, dowels or other structural elements Spray starch Decorative trim like silk flowers, lace, beads, ribbons (optional) Super glue (optional) Arbor (optional) Permanent fine-point fabric markers (optional)
  • Determine how much physical space you wish to cover. The traditional canopy shelters the bride, groom and clergy, but if you plan to get attendants beneath the tent, mark off the amount of room it will take to hold everyone in the party and then add six inches all around for hems. Even if you can't draw, sketch out a rudimentary design from which to work.

  • Visit a fabric store with your measurements and your sketch. Have a clerk work with you to calculate the amount of fabric you will need to cover the ceremonial area, and using the clerk's expertise, he or she may suggest additional lengths of material.

  • Advise the fabric specialist with whom you are working about your plan for keeping the canopy aloft. You may wish to use four long poles held by four attendants, suspend the tent from the ceiling or drape the tent over a prefabricated arbor or other wood or metal structure. When shopping for material or napkins to make the tent, your canopy will be less likely to wrinkle if you choose fabric with some polyester content.

  • Decide how long you want your canopy to be. For example, a 15-yard long canopy made of 45-inch wide fabric would require 30 yards of fabric to produce a tent that's 90 inches wide. Cut the material in half and stitch the two sections together to complete the basic tent. Attach at least two 90-inch wide strips of fabric or cloth tape to the underside of the canopy to make casings that will hide structural elements like dowels, poles and wire.

  • Choose a different method of construction if the directions above appear too difficult. Using the same sizing parameters, purchase a large quantity of white linen napkins and sew them together to create a tent that has a homespun, patchwork look.

  • Decorate the tent with your choice of ribbons, lace, beading, fringe or silk flowers or hold a decorating party and invite friends and family to help you embellish the tent. Secure elements with Super glue or stitch them into place so they are able to stand up to wind or other weather variances if the ceremony is to take place outdoors.

  • Regardless of whether you used fabric or napkins to construct it, saturate the entire canopy with spray starch after the hemming and joining of sections is complete. Allow the tent to dry completely. Fold it up using quantities of tissue paper between the folds to keep the canopy from wrinkling.

  • Transport the canopy to the wedding site. If it is to be hung from the ceiling, install S-hooks, then use wire or fishing line to hang the tent. Feed dowels into casings for weight and definition. If the tent is to be draped over an architectural element like an arbor, install it early to allow the fabric to assume the shape of the structure. Finally, if it's to be held by attendants, slip four poles into each corner casing just before the ceremony takes place.

  • Start your own tradition by bringing along permanent, fine point cloth markers. Once the ceremony is over, take down the canopy, distribute the markers and let your guests write personal messages to you and your new spouse on this very special day.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't limit your canopy color choices to white. Using the color you have chosen for your wedding attendants can look dynamic and will serve as a lively artistic element for wedding photos.

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