Why you need a wedding arch | Using an arbour or bower to add a touch of magic to your wedding day

Why you need a wedding arch | Using an arbour or bower to add a touch of magic to your wedding day

Your wedding ceremony and the exchange of vows are the most important part of your wedding day — the declaration of your commitment to one another in front of family and friends. And if you’re having an outdoor wedding, you will need a focal point — somewhere to stand to say your vows — and nothing says ‘focal point’ like a beautifully decorated wedding arch.

What is a wedding arch?

A wedding arch may also be called a wedding arbour or bower. They can be made from branches, twigs, driftwood, or metal and decorated with flowers, feathers, or fabric. Couples usually stand underneath or in front of the arbour to make their vows, perfectly framing the action for those important wedding photos.

Whether you decorate the arch yourself, ask friends to help, or use an arch provided by a wedding venue, as it will be one of the most photographed locations of the day, it is worth putting some time into thinking about what type of arch you’d like and how you’d like it to look. The most popular type of arch at outdoor humanist weddings last year was the floral arch, but wedding balloon arches are popular for indoor weddings.

Here are a few of our favourite wedding arches from humanist weddings gone by.

Floral wedding arch

Marie and Tiz were married encircled by family and friends in an outdoor wedding ceremony conducted by humanist celebrant Hannah Hart. At the centre of the circle stood a cream metal arch festooned with an array of colourful flowers.

Maria and Tiz’s garden wedding by Ross Holkham.

Rose-covered arbours

Caroline and Eamonn chose to be seated under their beautiful rustic bower bedecked by pale pink roses while humanist celebrant Emma Bailie welcomed guests to their outdoor wedding in Northern Ireland. The pink roses matched Caroline’s wedding bouquet and the flowers in her headdress.

Caroline and Eamonn’s rose-covered arch. Photo by Creative Flux.

Hester and Joe opted for a simple wedding arch with white, scented roses to one side. Their humanist celebrant, Rachael Meyer stood under the arch to conduct the ceremony, while the happy couple stood in front. The arch provided a pretty backdrop for their glamorous outdoor wedding.

Hester and Joe’s decorative wedding arch. Photo by Duncan McCall Photography.

Balloon arch

Model Laura and footballer Eunan O’Kane were the first couple to have a legally recognised humanist wedding in Northern Ireland. The couple, who are patrons of Humanists UK, had a wedding arch decorated with pink and white balloons, roses, hydrangeas, and stocks.

Laura and Eunan O'Kane and their balloon arch
Laura and Eunan O’Kane and their balloon arch.

Driftwood wedding arch

For Lucy and Jona’s beachfront wedding, they chose a driftwood wedding arch. Humanist wedding celebrant Josie Lamb conducted the ceremony beneath the arch.

Lucy and Jona’s driftwood wedding arch. Photo by Alexander Crane.

The wedding arch was tied with ribbons and decorated with a central bouquet of flowers.

Lucy and Jona’s driftwood wedding arch. Photo by Alexander Crane.

Woodland wedding arch

Chloe and Josh’s wedding bower was made from a metal arch draped in delicate white fabric and decorated with wildflowers. Read our blog on Woodland Weddings for all the info on getting married surrounded by trees.

Chloe and Josh’s woodland wedding arch. Photo by Alex Miller.

Flowers were a big part of the theme for this beautiful woodland wedding which was conducted by humanist celebrant Jennie Hermolle.

Wedding flowers. Photo by Alex Miller.

Outside in

Briege and Warren’s indoor wedding featured an architectural arched doorway and a wedding arch decorated with flowers and feathers. Their celebrant was Northern Ireland-based celebrant Jean Barrett-Quinn.

Briege and Warren’s indoor wedding arch. Photo by Emma Kenny.

A gazebo

As an alternative to a wedding arch, a gazebo can be used as a backdrop for wedding photos. Danny and Andy had an indoor ceremony for their winter wedding conducted by Val Turner, but the weather turned out to be so great, they had some photos taken outside too.

Wedding gazebo, same-sex wedding, humanist wedding
Danny and Andy by David Ashton.

Is a humanist wedding for me?

A humanist wedding is ideal for you if you’d like a non-religious wedding that is unique, personalised, and meaningful.

How do I know if I’m a humanist?

Take our quiz and find out — or watch this short video where Stephen Fry explains humanism.

Find your local celebrant

Outdoor weddings have always been a popular choice for humanist weddings. We think their popularity is set to soar and that the majority of post-lockdown weddings will be conducted outdoors. If you’d like a humanist wedding, you can find your local celebrant via our website.

Featured photographers

Creative Flux Photography

Duncan McCall Photography

Alexander Crane

Simple Tapestry

Alex Miller

Ross Holkham

Emma Kenny

David Ashton

'My humanist ceremony was the most special day of my life. All my family were blown away. Both my parents said that they'd never been to a wedding that was more personal or heartfelt.'
Madeleine, 34

Read our wedding blog for feature ideas, inspiration, top tips, and real-life humanist wedding stories.

If you're planning your wedding now, then contact a celebrant as early as possible.