By Rebecca Padgett Frett
All eyes should be on you and your partner during the wedding ceremony. You might as well give guests no other option by using a swoon-worthy altar.
With the exchanging of vows and rings being one of the most photographed moments at a wedding, a beautiful backdrop can greatly add to the overall aesthetic. Where the ceremony space has long been a beacon of sacred beauty, the onslaught of Zoom weddings and downsized weddings led to an increase in altar exposure.
“The ceremony sets the tone for the whole wedding, and the backdrop is the first major element of the celebration that your guests see,” said Kylie McKinney, sales and events manager of The Pearl Hotel in Rosemary Beach.
While altars began as religious platforms, their wedding counterparts serve as the central focus of the ceremony — framed by the bridal party while highlighting the couple.
In recent years, archways, rustic doors, pergolas, crosses, gazebos and chuppahs have been the envy of countless Pinterest boards. All of these options are often covered in flowers and foliage.
Couples have begun including other geometric shapes, including pentagons, triangles and half moons. Missy Gunnels, owner of Missy Gunnels Flowers in Tallahassee, has recently had many couples incorporate a “moongate,” a large metal circle, up to 8 feet, encircled with flowers and vines.
Backdrops can be as simple yet striking as string lights or as intricate and ornate as artwork installations. Background ideas could include shapes cut from large pieces of wood, window panes, surfboards, a flower wall, drapes, a cloth with art or a quotation printed on it, wallpaper, streamers or an antique folding screen.
Where these backdrops add some pop and pizzazz, plenty of Northwest Florida wedding locations let the region’s unparalleled allure do the talking.
“Don’t overthink this. If your ceremony spot overlooks an amazing view, that is your backdrop, no need to compete with Mother Nature,” said John Gandy, founder and creative director of John Gandy Events.
That being said, John Gandy Events is renowned for creating personalized ceremony spaces that reflect the couple. For the wedding of two attorneys, their design used a large partner’s desk covered with a wide variety of candles, creating a centerpiece that was both stunning and unique to the couple.
Altars spaces have extended beyond pulpit and podium to include decor and personalized pieces, including family heirlooms, potted plants or trees, bohemian rugs, artwork, antiques, furniture, chandeliers and more.
Cheryl Walton, senior wedding sales and services manager of the WaterColor Inn, noted that one of the most meaningful on-property weddings she witnessed had a family Bible at the altar that was hundreds of years old and had been signed by every member of the family on their wedding day.
In many cases, the ceremony spaces have become a place of welcome, of comfort and of personal expression — much like love itself. ▪