47 Wedding Altar Ideas, From Trending to Timeless

From the vows to your first kiss, the altar sets the tone of your entire ceremony. Get inspired by our list of wedding altar ideas for every wedding theme and style.

 A bride and groom stand at the wedding altar holding hands and exchanging vows.
Photo by Zola

From that first step down the aisle to sharing your first kiss as newlyweds, your ceremony is arguably the most important part of your big day. These special moments will be captured in photographs you’ll be looking back on forever—so having a beautiful backdrop is a must!

Deciding how to decorate your altar can feel impossible. Should you go with traditional florals or lush greenery? A wreath or an archway? Truthfully, there are endless wedding altar ideas to choose from no matter your wedding style or theme. We’ve put together a list of the most stunning—and unique—options to help get you started.

1. Floral Wreath

floral-wreath

Incorporating florals is one of the most common wedding altar ideas, and for good reason! Use flowers of your choice to craft a stunning wreath that’ll make the moment you say “I do” even more magical.

2. Floral Canopy

floral-canopy

Wreaths are gorgeous on their own, but if you prefer something more three-dimensional, you can’t go wrong with a floral-covered canopy! This makes an especially good choice for botanical garden weddings.

3. White Curtained Tent

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Bright flowers are often the first thing to come to mind when you think of wedding altar decorations, but you don’t necessarily need colorful blooms. A simple curtained tent draped in white flowers and greenery accents can make a great statement piece.

4. Suspended Greenery

Greenery suspended from the ceiling can be just as beautiful as a frame or standing archway. If your venue is indoors, arrange candles on the floor below to balance out the look.

5. Pampas Grass Background

pampas-grass-background

Whether you prefer a simple backdrop or a wreath, you can’t go wrong with pampas grass. This simple wedding altar decor is the perfect way to tie together a boho event, and its neutral colors pair perfectly with just about any wedding palette!

6. Hexagon Altar

hexagon-altar

You don’t have to limit yourself to basic shapes for your wedding altar. Just like the shapes you used to draw in geometry class, a wooden hexagon structure can make for an eye-catching backdrop. Depending on your theme, pair it with string lights, macrame, florals, or even all three!

7. Draped Rustic Arch

draped-rustic-arch

Planning a rustic wedding? This outdoor archway is both simple and elegant. It uses neutral-colored drapes and two small flower arrangements to tie the structure together. Off to the right, stacked wooden crates can incorporate candles, pampas grass, and, of course, more florals.

8. Laser-Cut Background

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A laser-cut background can be personalized to fit just about any type of wedding. For something even more unique to you as a couple, incorporate your initials and wedding anniversary date.

9. White Pillars

white-pillars

Maybe heavy florals aren’t really your thing, in which case you have to consider this elegant wedding altar idea! An altar framed by tall white pillars looks great both indoors and outdoors. If you feel like a pop of color is needed, go for short pillars topped with flower arrangements.

10. Lantern-Lit Wreath

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Even the most minimal altar wreaths come alive when adorned in drapes, fairy lights, and lanterns. Plus, it’s a beautiful way to illuminate an evening ceremony.

11. Bohemian Frame

bohemian-frame

A wooden frame is an easy—and affordable—way to spice up a boho wedding ceremony. Use large sticks or poles that tie into your wedding theme and pair it with a colorful rug so you can display candles at the base.

12. Wreath of Roses

wreath-of-roses

Instead of an assortment of altar wedding flowers, consider a simple rose wreath. Whether they’re white, red, or even black, roses are a great way to incorporate fresh blooms into a classic wedding theme.

13. Local Flora Structure

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Embrace local flora to add a unique touch to your destination wedding. Whether it’s a wreath, canopy, or suspended foliage, this is a great opportunity to pay homage to your wedding location.

14. Driftwood Arbor

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If you’re looking for the perfect way to tie together a waterfront wedding ceremony, why not take inspiration from the water itself? An arbor crafted from natural driftwood can add just the right touch to a beach or lakeside venue.

15. Dream Catchers

End your dream wedding ceremony in a magical way by saying “I do” in front of a backdrop of dream catchers. This is one example of unique wedding altar decor that’s sure to set your event apart.

16. Persian Rugs

persian-rugs

Instead of incorporating a tall altar archway or frame, keep it simple and make a statement with a bright Persian rug. Pair it with loose florals along the edges that tie in with your wedding bouquet.

17. Macrame Backdrop

macrame-backdrops

Saying your wedding vows in front of a macrame backdrop is a beautiful way to symbolize tying the knot. If you’re crafty, this is even something you can create yourself!

18. Under a Tree

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If your venue is outdoors, consider making use of landscape elements like trees. Getting married under a large statement tree is a great way to incorporate nature, and you can even spice it up by hanging fairy lights or lanterns from the branches.

19. At the Fireplace

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If your venue has a fireplace, take advantage and make it a focal point of your special day. Decorate the mantel with foliage, string lights, or even candles.

20. Triangle Altar

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Put a two-dimensional spin on the wooden frame by creating a wooden triangle structure. A triangle- or arrow-shaped altar can symbolize stability, success, and determination as you begin your life as newlyweds.

21. Colorful Banner

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A colorful banner can add a modern vibe to your wedding arch, or it can even stand all on its own.

22. Arrangement of Vines

For venues with limited space, you might not have a choice except to place the altar against a wall. If that’s the case, you probably don’t have room to build a large structure or archway. Arranging vines on the wall can be a great way to save on space, and depending on the pattern, draw everyone’s eyes to you as a couple.

23. Greenery Aisle

Maybe you want to embrace your venue’s natural beauty, in which case keeping your altar minimalistic is the way to go. However, you can still get creative with your walkway! Lining the aisle in thick greenery is just one of many ways to make a statement entrance.

24. Heart-Shaped Arch

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What better way to show your love than with a heart-shaped arch? There are so many ways you can achieve this, whether it’s with florals, ribbons, or even balloons.

25. Barn Door Backdrop

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When it comes to rustic venues, we had to mention this authentic altar idea! If you’re hosting a barn wedding, make the most of the rustic vibe by saying “I do” in front of the building itself.

26. Lavender Blossoms

A display of lavender makes the perfect addition to a purple and gold color palette. And it has a bonus perk: It smells just as great as it looks!

27. Twigs and Branches

twigs-and-branches

Florals just not really your thing? Construct a wreath or arch out of bare twigs and branches instead. Utilize fairy lights, lanterns, or candles to add some magic or sheer drapes for a pop of color.

28. Growing Tree

A large statement tree can make for a stunning wedding altar, but saying “I do” in front of a baby tree can be a heartwarming way to symbolize your growing love. If your venue is indoors, you could even construct a faux tree with branches and loose florals.

29. Cactus Accents

Channel bohemian vibes on your wedding day by incorporating cacti into the altar. This is one of our favorite wedding arch alternatives if you’d rather stray from traditional florals. Needless to say, it ties in perfectly with a desert wedding theme!

30. Gold Hoop

gold-hoop

A gold hoop with flower accents takes a minimalistic approach to your typical floral wreath. It might sound simple, but it sure is eye-catching! If you’re not a fan of gold, opt for copper or another metallic shade instead. Here’s a hint: You can easily achieve this with spray paint.

31. Tropical Canopy

Getting married to the sounds of the ocean? A tropical canopy is just what you need to level up your beach wedding decor! Use driftwood for the frame and palm leaves and colorful flowers for the canopy itself.

32. Palm Leaves

palm-leaves

If a canopy isn’t really your style, you can still incorporate the tropics into your wedding altar. A simple arch framed with palm leaves is simple but makes a statement all the same.

33. Hanging Florals

Suspended florals are an easy way to spice up your wedding altar, and it’s often easier to achieve than creating a full wreath or arch. If you want to add a bit of rustic flair, stack crates and lanterns on the floor below.

34. Rustic Square Frame

You can’t go wrong with a simple square frame, especially when it comes to rustic and country weddings. Decorate with foliage and consider incorporating seasonal produce like wheat, berries, and other fruits.

35. Venue Backdrop

If your venue itself complements your wedding theme, use that as your wedding altar! This may or may not be possible depending on your venue, but don’t pass it up if you have the opportunity. You can add flower accents or ditch the florals entirely.

36. Geometric Altar Frame

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We’ve mentioned hexagonal and triangular wedding arches, but when it comes to shapes, there are truly unlimited possibilities. A geometric style altar painted gold or bronze makes a fun statement at any modern wedding.

37. Ocean Backdrop

ocean-backdrop

When it comes to outdoor wedding altars, sometimes letting nature speak for itself is the way to go. If you’re getting married on a beach, let the ocean be your backdrop. Just be careful not to get too close!

38. Forest Backdrop

forest-backdrop

Holding your wedding ceremony in a forest? Add an enchanting feel by reciting your vows in front of a backdrop of trees. Utilize natural foliage and incorporate string lights to add to the warm ambiance.

39. Floor-to-Ceiling Drapes

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Venues with high-vaulted ceilings look stunning when adorned with floor-to-ceiling drapes. This is one of those indoor wedding altar ideas that’s pretty much guaranteed to wow your guests.

40. Hanging Succulents

There are tons of unique wedding arches out there, but some may be expensive or tricky to implement. Succulents are relatively cheap to purchase, and you can even make your own macrame plant holders to hang them from your arch!

41. Ribbon Display

ribbon-display

Displaying ribbons on a minimalist frame is a simple take on altar wedding decorations. Depending on your theme, you could even make use of textured ribbon, like burlap, silk, or velvet.

42. Flowers and Macrame

flowers-and-macrame

We’ve mentioned flowers and macrame—but why not incorporate them together? Macrame looks great on its own, but a floral pop of color will really bring things together.

43. Curtain Vines

Hang a curtain of vines on a wooden frame for a wedding altar that’s whimsical and stunning. Intertwine string lights among the vines for an extra touch of magic.

44. Candle Display

Incorporating a simple display of candles adds a warm and magical touch to just about any wedding theme. Use crates or boxes to create tiers to give the display a more three-dimensional feel.

45. String Light Canopy

String lights are always a fun addition, whether it’s in a wreath or an arch. If you’re getting married under a canopy, hang string lights above you to add to the enchanting fairytale vibe.

46. Mix and Match Florals

mix-and-match-florals

Get creative with your wedding altar arrangements by mixing and matching a variety of seasonal blooms. This is a bold choice that’s sure to draw eyes, and it looks great when incorporated skillfully.

47. Asymmetrical Foliage

asymmetrical-foliage

Most wedding archways are symmetrical in design. If you want to do something a little different, consider designing an altar with asymmetrical foliage that draws the eye to you as the couple.

Your altar sets the tone of your ceremony and serves as a backdrop for standout moments like your first kiss as newlyweds. Our list of wedding altar ideas will inspire you as you get started planning your wedding ceremony. But before you start planning your wedding altar decor, first you need to choose a location. If you haven’t already, head on over to our vendor page to find a venue near you!