How to Build an Arch for a Wedding

Michael Bold
Written by Michael Bold · Posted in Decor Last Updated April 28, 2023 · minute read
In This Article

    So, you’ve decided to have a wedding arch at your ceremony? Big thumbs up from us! 

    We think they’re the perfect addition to any wedding. They can really tie in the theme of the day whilst also looking freaking awesome in photos!

    Some venues will provide wedding arches as well as all the decorations for your ceremony. However, if you’re wondering how to build an arch for a wedding yourself you’ve come to the right place. 

    couple say wedding vows in front of arch

    How To Build an Arch for a Wedding – Photo by David Lindsley Photography

    In the early days of our photography careers, we actually built a wedding arch to use at multiple bridal shows. So we’ve got hands-on experience of the matter. Ours was used to display our banner advertising our photography. However, it was later re-purposed at our friend’s weddings so got a heck of a lot of use.

    In this article, we’re going to tell you how to plan the perfect wedding arch, build one, and then how to add that finishing spice to make it truly spectacular. 

    So place your pencil behind your ear like a proper trades person and let’s get into it.

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    Why would you want to build a wedding arch?

    There are lots of reasons you might want to build your own wedding arch. One major factor is that it can be a cost-effective solution helping to save hundreds of dollars. 

    Of course, you may have financial help from your parents for the overall wedding. However, it’s still a good idea to rein in the spending particularly if it’s something you can tackle yourself.

    Building your own arch also means you can make it bespoke to you and your chosen venue. 

    Perhaps it’s a small venue and you need it to be of certain dimensions. Or maybe you’re using it as part of a stage backdrop for your group photos and want it to be extra wide.

    Whatever your reasons, we think they’re a great little project you can be working on in the lead-up to your wedding. 

    Whilst building an arch isn’t all that complicated we understand that not everyone is a DIY master. This is why we will also talk about arches that just require assembly in our article. 

    Plan the perfect arch for a wedding

    Before you whip out the band saw and put on your safety goggles there’s one important job to take care of. Planning! It’s key to any successful build. 

    There’s a famous saying “Measure twice, cut once”. This is especially true when tackling any self-build. Trust us! We’ve had many DIY disasters over the years so you should heed our warning.

    Make sure to plan out your build thoroughly.

    Look for inspiration from real weddings

    Our first piece of advice is simple. Research, research, and research some more. 

    Gather inspiration from browsing wedding blogs, Instagram, Pinterest, and real weddings. 

    Screenshot arches you like and store them in their own folder. This way you can show them to your partner and discuss your vision for your own arch.  

    You should take note of things like the size, materials used, colors, accessories, and why you like that particular style.

    Choosing the shape of your arch

    Wedding arches can be built in a variety of shapes and each will present its own set of challenges. For example, a circular arch may be difficult to construct whereas a popular arbor-style arch will require much simpler cuts.

    That being said it’s always worth a go in our opinion to create something unique to you. Yes, it may be a little more challenging to create a hexagonal arch but it’ll look stunning at your wedding.

    This decision may take you a while but it’s well worth thinking about. The shape of an arch is one of its main features and something that can really set yours apart from the rest. 

    Will it fit at your venue?

    Now this is something we’ve seen on a few occasions at weddings we’ve photographed. It’s led to a very stressful morning for the groom and his groomsmen as they frantically look for a saw.

    Essentially they’ve built the arch outdoors without considering if it will fit in the ceremony venue. Cue lots of cursing and a much smaller arch than originally planned when it comes to the vows.

    If you are building your own arch we can’t stress this enough. Get the measurements of the venue and where the ceremony is likely to take place. This will save you a lot of agro.

    Additionally, think about the size of the venue from an aesthetic point of view. If your ceremony location is a large building with double-height ceilings a punney arch will look out of place. 

    Equally, if it’s a small and intimate venue you don’t want to build an arch that takes over the space. There is always a middle ground and that’s what you ideally need to find.

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    Picking out the decoration type

    No wedding arch build is complete without some decoration. Unless of course, you’re going for that super minimal aesthetic. 

    A popular choice is to decorate your arch with fabric, you can use different colors and textures to really tie into the theme of your big day. You can also play around with how you drape the fabric to match your style of wedding. The ideal companion for fabric is floral displays. You can choose complementary colors or opt for something completely different. It’s really up to you.

    Another must have in our opinion are wedding signs. These can be fabricated in a variety of materials from wood to plastic to metal. Our favorite type though has to be neon light wedding signs. These can be customized to your own specifications or purchased pre-designed. The cool thing about wedding signs is that they live on long past the wedding and serve as a cherished reminder of your awesome day.

    A top tip from us when picking out decorations for your arch is to be careful with their placement. Far too many times the wedding sign has been placed too low causing it to be blocked from all angles as we photograph the ceremony. 

    If the groom is 6 feet tall the bottom of your sign needs to be higher than this. We know it sounds obvious but the amount of times this happens is unreal.

    Set a budget

    Provided you do it right, building a wedding arch can be cost effective. Not only that but once your wedding is over you could even choose to sell it on, kerching!

    However, when planning to build your dream wedding arch you should set a budget. If for example, you don’t already have tools your costs could soon spiral out of control. 

    You’ll need to come up with an estimate of how much your arch will cost to build. You then need to set that against how much it would be to purchase or hire a prefabricated one. 

    That being said, if your heart is set on something bespoke nothing will stop you. It’s still a good idea to keep track of how much you’ve spent creating your arch to reflect in your resale value should you choose to sell it.

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    The DIY approach

    Do you love DIY projects? Then building your wedding arch from scratch will be the obvious choice. You’ll probably already have all the tools required and know exactly how to build a sturdy structure. 

    You can pick up all your raw materials from somewhere like Lowes or Home Depot. Look out for those multi-buys in order to save some dollars.

    This method will afford you the most freedom to build the wedding arch of your dreams. You’ll be able to draw on inspiration from those hundreds of screenshots you have saved to your phone.

    As with all DIY projects, it will fill you with a sense of accomplishment and you’ll be able to proudly tell all your guests that you and your partner made that.

    Flat pack wedding arches

    For the not so confident DIYer’s out there, there’s always the prefabricated/flat pack option. 

    We know they don’t sell flatpack wedding arches in IKEA but you can get damn near close with garden arbors from other suppliers.

    Take Lowes selection of garden arbors for example. They even show some of them decorated with fabric and flowers ideal for weddings. 

    These structures are tried and tested and with a price range of between $100 – $250 could be the perfect way to build a wedding arch without too much effort. 

    They’ll also come with instructions for easy assembly and additionally hold a good resale value on Facebook Marketplace as people can use them in their gardens.

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    What tools will you need?

    Even if you go down the route of the flat pack arch there still might be some tools you need. However, if you plan to build your own from scratch your tool list will be a lot more extensive.

    This can inevitably have a big effect on your budget. However, it’s the perfect excuse to buy those tools you need to complete the other DIY jobs around the house.

    Here are some tools with think you’ll need when constructing a wedding arch:

    • Measuring tape
    • Set square
    • Hand saw or electric saw to make it easier
    • Drill
    • Screws
    • Filler and decorators knife
    • Glue
    • Sandpaper
    • Paint or stain
    • Brushes
    • Hammer
    • Spotify playlist (it might take you some time, it’s best to enjoy it!)

    Additionally, to decorate your arch you may need some other pieces of equipment like zip ties and picture hanging wire.

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    What materials are typically used to build a wedding arch?

    You can build your wedding arch out of pretty much any material. That being said, there are a few that we think are the most suitable. Whether that’s because they’re easy to work with or lightweight for effective transportation.

    Let’s take a look at some of the popular choices and discuss some of the pros and cons if you choose them.

    Wood

    Pine is a great choice when it comes to building a wedding arch. It’s readily available at most DIY stores and also not that expensive.

    Wood in general is a popular choice because it’s super easy to work with. It’s also ideal for creating that popular rustic boho style. You could even use branches from a birch tree or any tree for that matter (providing they’re sourced ecologically). This could be a very cost-effective way of building a wedding arch.

    Wooden arches are what we see at most weddings. It was also the material of choice for the wedding arch we made ourselves. Luckily we also have a log-burning stove. After it had been used at multiple friends’ weddings we also benefited from it in that way. 

    Building an arch from wood may result in you having bulky and heavy sections. These may be difficult to transport and awkward to assemble without help.

    Copper pipe

    We’ve seen metal used the most for warehouse or barn weddings with a rustic vibe. A popular choice is copper piping traditionally used for plumbing.

    It’s very easy to bend into shape and join together to create any shape you can dream up. At the same time, it gives off a sleek and simple look that’s ideal for the minimalists out there.

    Another added benefit of copper piping is it’s quite a lightweight material. Equally, you can cut it to short lengths so that it’s easy to transport to and from the venue.

    PVC pipe

    Possibly the cheapest material to build a wedding arch with is PVC pipe. 

    You could use a 1-inch pipe which should be sturdy enough to hold your decorations. In a similar way to copper piping, there is a range of joints to easily build your desired arch.

    We think it’s important to cover this material the most out of any. The reason for this is that PVC looks very cheap compared to wood or copper when uncovered.

    You should also consider that it’s quite a lightweight material. This might be great for transportation but may not hold up well if you have an outdoor wedding and it’s particularly windy.

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    Size matters when it comes to building wedding arches

    The size that you choose to build your wedding arch will largely be dictated by the following factors:

    • Size of venue and height of ceilings
    • Height of the couple and officiant
    • Whether you’re using it for group shots
    • Budget
    • Transportation

    Some arches will be just wide enough to frame the couple whilst others will be 7-8 feet wide. This comes down to your personal preference as well as the other factors above. As we’ve already mentioned it’s important that your arch is tall enough. 

    We recommend going for a height of 7-8 feet so that the top of the arch isn’t cutting through both of your heads on all the wedding photos.

    How much will it cost to build a wedding arch?

    There are a lot of things that will influence how much it costs to build a wedding arch. In our opinion, the biggest factor will be if you already own the tools required. If for example, you don’t own a drill or electric saw that’s a hefty outlay. 

    How much you spend will also be impacted by the materials you use. PVC piping will be the cheapest option from our list. That being said you also need to take into account the size of your wedding arch. The more materials you require will inevitably increase your overall costs.

    From our research, we found it would probably cost you anywhere between $60 – $160 to build a wooden wedding arch from scratch. 

    Equally, as we’ve already mentioned there are prefabricated ones that you can purchase from places like Lowe’s. These will run you between $100 – $250. 

    They have the added benefit of saving you time but may cost you slightly more. You’ll have to judge whether the extra expense is worth the saving in build time. However, if you want something truly unique we think the way to go is the DIY route.

    Is your chosen arch easy to assemble and take apart?

    We can’t stress this point enough but make sure you build your arch so it is easy to reassemble. 

    After all, you might rely on others to put it together on the morning of your wedding. Or you might need to quickly dismantle it if you’re also having it as a feature of your wedding reception.

    You could think about filming yourself putting your arch together and taking it apart. This way you’ll have the perfect instructions to show people or watch back yourself to jog your memory.

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    Can your arch be transported?

    Finally, when building a wedding arch make sure that it’s easy to transport. For example, if your only transportation to get your arch to your venue is a Mini Cooper you’ll have trouble if your largest lengths are 8 feet long.

    Equally, if you’re having a destination wedding your wedding arch transportation is even more crucial. 

    You don’t want to be making multiple trips if your wedding is miles away from where you live. 

    If you’re flying you’ll of course have to check with your airline whether it’s possible to bring your arch on the flight. 

    Conclusion

    So, there you have it. Our advice on how to build an arch for a wedding. 

    The wedding arch will be the main focal point of your ceremony, apart from the happy couple of course. It can really tie together all the themes of the day and look great in photos.

    Getting it right is important. At the same time, it’s the opportunity for a couple to express their vision for the style of their wedding. It’s also a great project you and your partner can work on together in the lead-up to your wedding.

    Providing you’re handy with the tools and have all the materials it shouldn’t take too long to construct. The part that will take the longest in our opinion is the planning as you um and ah over the finer details.

    If you’re not a confident DIYer then think about purchasing a prefabricated arch or hiring one from professionals. This will likely cost more but if it saves you from life-threatening injuries it’s well worth it in our opinion!