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Aerial Arrangements

Chuppahs and other lofty floral elements take center stage, bringing blooming glamour to new heights.

Orchids strung by Barton G. dangle from above. Photo by Adagion Studio

An uplift arrangement topped by candles by Always Flowers. Photo by Studio 1791

A shimmering chuppah by Jose Graterol Designs flanked with golden spheres in Lucite boxes. Photo by Matt Horton Artist Group

What’s in a name? For Jewish couples getting married under a chuppah, considered to be the centerpiece of their commitment to one another, it’s everything. The four poles used to construct it, along with the fabric canopy above their heads, represent the home they will create together. “It’s an old tradition that has endured,” explains Kathryn Parrish, owner of Parrish Designs (7032 S.W. 47th St., Miami, 305.665.0389, parrishdesignslondon.com). “But people have become more relaxed about it, finding unique ways to use them in their ceremony.”

While nearly every Jewish wedding incorporates a chuppah, no two are the same. Their designs run the gamut from simple flowing fabrics to suspended structures with floating candles. Yet even couples who aren’t familiar with the symbolism are asking for overhead elements. “Often our non-Jewish clients see photos of breathtaking chuppahs and want to include something similar,” Parrish says. “It certainly lends itself to more interesting design possibilities.”

Naturally it’s important that the structure matches its location. Jose Graterol of Jose Graterol Designs frequently includes buds and blooms that could have literally been plucked from the wedding venue. “For a ceremony at Vizcaya [a historic palazzo in Coconut Grove, Fla.], I used Spanish moss and orchids, which anchored it to its surroundings,” he says.

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While floral designers are becoming increasingly creative, actual flowers remain an important part of the equation. Karla Dascal, owner of Karla Conceptual Event Experiences, says she prefers a clean, cutting-edge look where a single type of bloom is used to cover an entire surface. “I recently used more than 1,000 hydrangeas to create a pavéd flower chuppah,” she shares. “It’s a very polished look and becomes a texture.”

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Beyond that, florists also want these structures to represent the personality of their clients. Karen Cohen, co-owner of Always Flowers and Events, recently constructed a blessing tent using the groom’s four surfboards as “poles.”

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Graterol says he relies on “reflective and organic materials. We can fill Lucite or acrylic legs with pearls or metal spheres. We also have several structures that are completely mirrored, allowing guests to see the faces of the bride and groom. And an inverted mirror placed on the roof of the chuppah lets the couple see themselves as they become man and wife.”

A beautiful reflection, indeed.