Beautiful Wedding Altars and Aisles

Say “I do” against a one-of-a-kind backdrop.


©Stacey Kane Photography

©Krista Lee Photography


©Janie Medley Flora Design

©Ariel Renae

©Kristyn Hogan

©Tec Petaja

©Susan Stripling

©Nancy Ray Photography

©Kristyn Hogan

Photo By: Esquire Photography ©Cherie Steinberg

©Hatch Creative Studio

©Austin Gros

Church Doors

Getting married outside? You don’t have to leave the old-fashioned wedding chapel behind. This set of vintage church doors is owned by Nashville event designer Cedarwood Weddings, which styled the ceremony setting shown here, fashioning the closed doors as the altar backdrop.

Just Beachy

There’s no rule that says your guests have to be lined up along the aisle. For this beach wedding, planner Annie Lee of Daughter of Design arranged chairs, adorned alternately with camel-colored pashminas (meant to do double duty as shawls in case the wind got chilly), on either side of the altar instead. The swags of fabric on the bamboo arbor are anchored at the base with round mercury glass balls in different sizes — a smart contemporary touch.

Statement Piece

A vintage architectural piece in the middle of an open lawn makes a dramatic statement. This mantel was styled with silver candelabras by Cedarwood Weddings.

Mixing Styles

Don’t be afraid to combine very different elements to get the look you want — this statement-piece altar features exposed Edison light bulbs hanging from a stage-prop tree. “This was for a downtown couple who are very modern but who also really like nature,” says wedding planner Annie Lee of Daughter of Design. Whimsical purple alliums — a lollipop-shaped flower related to the onion — are placed along the aisles in streamlined wooden containers.

A Door to the Altar

While this wedding is outdoors, the feel is that of a rustic barn. Create a surprising entry to the altar by bringing indoor elements outside to define the space. Floral designer Janie Medley accessorized the doors with wreaths made with seeded eucalyptus and green hydrangeas.

Aisle Lanterns

Aisle-side décor adds a touch of romance to the ceremony; this chair-back bouquet and lantern were styled by Cedarwood Weddings. But don’t worry if you can’t afford to deck the entire aisle; you can stick with just the family’s pews, or the wedding party’s. “Something at the beginning and something at the end of the aisle is always nice,” says Karen Bussen, author of the Simple Stunning wedding guide series. “Those are your two biggest focal points.”

Candlelit Affair

Candles are romance, pure and simple. Styled by Cedarwood Weddings, this wedding inside the property’s antebellum historic home features an aisle composed of rustic benches, with soft ivory candles topping log rounds of varying heights. Just be careful with lit candles if you have a big gown or if you’re being given away by both mom and dad — make sure the aisle is wide enough, or consider using LED candles instead.

Marvelous Mantel

This altar tableau was created by Cedarwood Weddings, which provides full-service event styling at its historic Nashville location. You could source your own mantel at an architectural salvage shop, but know that it can be tricky to set up. (Cedarwood Weddings uses rebar — and includes the use of its collection of altar pieces in its wedding packages so you don’t have to figure out how to engineer them on your own.)

Light the Way

This chuppah brings a touch of verdant garden to New York City’s Gotham Hall with its cascading garlands of clematis, dahlias, orchids, callas, and sweet peas. Wedding expert Annie Lee, founder of event planning firm Daughter of Design, emphasizes that to get a look like this, don’t skimp on good lighting. “It goes unnoticed, but it’s critical,” she says. Here, Lee lit the chuppah from overhead, uplit the posts, and aimed another beam at the wedding party’s faces, which would otherwise have been thrown into shadow.

Rustic Altar

This hinged plywood altar piece and rustic benches are owned by Cedarwood Weddings, a venue and event styling company in Nashville, Tennessee. The floral designers placed cream and yellow wildflowers in antique crocks along the aisle, perched on top of pieces of tree stump that the staff cut themselves.

Grand Entrance

Nashville event designer Cedarwood Weddings uses these vintage church doors both as an altar backdrop and as an “entryway” into a wedding scene, as shown here. They’ve built a frame especially to keep the doors securely upright — something to note if you want to source a set of doors yourself from an antique or architectural salvage shop.

Coming Up Roses

The soft flower choices for this pergola were dictated by the simple, romantic lace of the bride’s gown. “Your dress sets the tone,” says wedding planning expert Annie Lee of Daughter of Design. “Don’t forget that you’re actually one of the main points of design during the ceremony. Sometimes I joke about it: why don’t we just buy the girls killer dresses and skip the decor?”

Winter Wedding

Set in a grand old bank building in New York City, this winter wedding took a snowy theme in an unexpected direction. “We wanted to bring in the idea of winter without making it a winter wonderland,” says wedding expert Annie Lee, founder of event planning firm Daughter of Design. For the aisle adornments, the event designer took birch poles and painted them gold, winding dendrobium orchids around them to complement the chuppah. “By complete, pure accident, we got that beautiful crosshatch shadow on the aisle,” Lee says.

Light-Bulb Moment

You can’t go wrong with minimalist décor in a beautiful natural setting. This wedding photographed by Austin Gros used only several strands of exposed Edison light bulbs to complement the surroundings — the gardens at California’s Historic Sand Rock Farm.

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