Wedding drapery adds the perfect touch of romance to any ceremony! While you can of course add some drapery to your reception too, you’ll most commonly find draping on wedding arches and canopies.
But you may be wondering what the best fabric is to use for wedding drapery? This answer depends on your own personal style, the wedding’s theme, and, of course, your budget.
Speaking of budget, simple drapery for a wedding arch may be included in the package of your wedding venue. But if this is not the case, or you would like something different to what your venue offers, you can rent some drapery or make a DIY wedding arch.
Below you’ll find all the information you need to do this, as well as 10 of the best fabrics for wedding draping. Also, who says the draping has to stop at the ceremony? You’ll also find some creative ways to incorporate draping into your reception below too.
OUR TOP PICK
While this fabric may not have the most appealing name, don’t worry, it’s not made from actual tobacco! It actually gets its name from its original use, shading tobacco plants. But it also is great for draping wedding arches.
It has a nice, natural flow and is also a great budget friendly option. If you’re going for a more formal, modern wedding it may not be the best choice, but for a simple, rustic wedding outdoors you can’t go wrong with tobacco cloth!
It’s a lightweight material, but is not sheer. In fact, it’s more comparable to a heavier kind of cheesecloth. It’s lightweight properties also make it excellent for a portable wedding arch.
Tobacco cloth is quickly becoming a popular choice for weddings thanks to its beautiful, versatile white canvas look. However, you need to use tobacco cloth sparingly as it isn’t easy to buy in bulk.
You most often see tulle used in craft projects, but it also looks stunning when incorporated into a wedding arch. To make it work, you just need a bit of creativity! But this creativity lends itself to a totally unique aesthetic for your wedding.
If you’re a little bit wary of DIY but would still like to incorporate tulle into your wedding, it’s actually very easy to use and work with.
Once the drapery is done you may find yourself wanting to make cute tulle flowers that would look great dotted along the aisle! Tulle’s ethereal look also lends itself perfectly to beach weddings.
However, tulle’s ethereal look means it’s very delicate and can easily tear or rip. And while it would look great for a beach wedding, it’s so light that it could easily blow away on a windy day!
Bear with us on this one, but a few couples have incorporated sheer curtain drapes into their wedding arches! Yep, just standard curtains you would find on any old window. Sheer white curtains work great as they definitely have a look more befitting of a wedding ceremony.
Don’t be afraid to be a little different, if you think it would suit your wedding’s aesthetic, go for it! The beauty of a DIY wedding is that you have more creative freedom and the room to experiment.
What’s more, sheer curtain drapes are extremely affordable, and you can find them at most dollar stores.
However, sheer curtain drapes are pre-cut so you have to work with the panels you have rather than cutting them exactly how you need. Like tulle, they’re also very light and could blow away in the wind.
Chiffon is probably the most popular material used in wedding drapery thanks to its stunning romantic look and lightweight feel. However, knowing how much chiffon you need and ordering it can be a bit of a difficult task.
Some of the benefits of chiffon include its ability to drape well and also hold dye well (this is good news for those who really want to get creative). However, if you want a wider variety of colors without reaching for the dye, it’s also available in a lot of colors and sizes.
However, some of the drawbacks of chiffon include its difficulty to work with, and how easily it frays. But when ordering chiffon pay attention to the fiber content of the fabric.
Silk chiffon is more expensive than polyester chiffon and polyester chiffon is, in fact, what you find in most bridesmaid’s dresses. Silk chiffon is fancier but polyester chiffon will also do the trick, but it won’t look as voluminous. Go for 60” of polyester chiffon to make it look fuller.
Some crafty couples have also found that cutting the fabric with pinking shears can also reduce chiffon fraying!
Like Chiffon, Organza is another popular fabric used for wedding drapery. It’s a thin, stiff, and transparent fabric made of silk or a synthetic yarn. When couples are considering drapery for their wedding, it’s often a toss-up between organza and chiffon. But which is better?
Synthetic organza frays less than chiffon, and synthetic organza is also relatively affordable. Organza is also light, airy, and holds its shape well.
However, it wrinkles easily and is very sheer. Despite being less likely to fray, it’s still considered a flimsy material. However, it’s still more voluminous than chiffon. Both organza and chiffon are beautiful materials and also achieve a similar look.
Satan is a luxury fabric that has long been associated with romance which makes it perfect for use as wedding decor! Draping your arch with satin will definitely take everyone’s breath away. It’s smooth, shiny and traditionally made from silk, but synthetic versions are now made too.
The beautiful appearance of satin is obviously what draws people to it, and it comes in a wide variety of colors. But it’s durability makes it great for outdoor weddings. It’s also heavier than most other fabrics on our list which again is a plus for outdoor weddings.
However, Satin is also prone to fraying and can be difficult to work with. It’s also one of the more expensive fabrics, and getting creative and cutting it up in certain ways could end in disaster. It may be easier to throw this over arches, rather than get too complicated with it.
Voile is perfect for use in outdoor weddings as it drapes easily, and is often available to buy in wider swathes than most other types of fabric. It’s also flame-retardant meaning that if you’re planning a candlelit wedding ceremony at nightfall Voile may be the safest option for draping.
Voile is also more sheer than chiffon whilst having more body. As we’ve mentioned, chiffon is usually made of silk and is considered a gauze while voile is a woven fabric made of 100% cotton, or is sometimes blended with linen or polyester.
Of course, polyester variants of voile should be avoided if you anticipate a candlelit ceremony.
However, cotton voile isn’t flexible and is easily creased. It often fails to return to its original size and shape when stretched.
Poly Premier fabric is elegant and subtle, making it the ideal fabric to use in a wedding. It has a similar texture to table linens, giving it a romantic and sophisticated look.
The most popular Poly Premier drape colors for weddings are (unsurprisingly) white and ivory. As it is made from polyester, this material is vulnerable to heat so take care when using it around open flame.
Try to avoid this scenario as much as you can. This is because the synthetic fibers of the polyester material don’t have the same tolerance to heat as natural fibers, making the material easily singed or burned.
Poly Satin has an irresistible sheen that makes it ideal for wedding ceremony drapery. The beautiful gloss finish just adds an extra sprinkle of romance!
Again, white drapes are the most popular color for poly satin for weddings but you also have a few color options to choose from.
If you’re thinking of using poly satin for your wedding drapery, keep in mind that not all poly satin drapes are the same, with some manufacturers having heavier poly satin and glossier satin than others.
Also, as with Poly Premier, Poly Satin is made with polyester so the same issues with heat apply. Keep this kind of material away from open flame and any other heat sources.
Rayon fabric is slick, soft to the touch, and has an excellent drape, not just for wedding drapery but any kind of project.
The item we’ve linked is about 53” wide and you can purchase 1, 5, or 10 yards of it in length and it comes in a wide variety of colors including ivory, gold, peach, purple, aqua, and royal blue. You’re sure to find a color of Rayon that fits the theme of your wedding!
Rayon is a lightweight fabric with a simple plain weave. No matter what color you go for and how you choose to drape it over your arch, it’s sure to drape beautifully.
While Rayon is often used to create soft, flowy dresses, blouses, skirts, and even lightweight pants, it works just as well for decor purposes - like decorating your wedding!
How to Measure Your Wedding Arch and Calculate How Many Yards of Fabric You’ll Need
If you want to get creative and drape your wedding arch yourself you may be wondering just how much you’ll need. 8 yards usually does the trick, but you’ll need to measure your arch height and width in feet and then add the height of all posts together with the width of all the beams.
Fabric is usually sold by the yard and there are 3 feet per yard. It’s important to add an additional yard of fabric so that you have more wiggle room to fluff it out when adding finishing touches.
Let’s have a look at an example calculation below, assuming your arch is less than 1 yard (the ideal measurement).
- Measure the arch lengths in feet.
- Add the height of the posts and the width to get the total arch length.
- Divide your total arch length by 3.
- Add 1 extra yard.
- Round your answer up to the nearest whole number.
If your arch is deeper than 1 yard however, you will need to use a different formula.
The reason you should add an extra layer is so the chances of not having enough material is reduced. You’ll probably want to have a bit of extra fabric to fill the arch out and to prevent it from looking sparsely decorated. This is where fluid, lightweight fabrics come in handy.
If you have candies or a candelabra near your arch consider a fire-resistant fabric like voile.
How to Drape Your Wedding Arch
Start by taking a length of fabric and tie it to a top corner of the arch and stretch that length to the base of the opposite supporting pole.
Repeat the above but reverse the corners so now you have a cross shape.
Take the extra fabric and wrap it tightly around the supporting poles.
Now move onto the arch roof. Take the material and stretch it evenly across before securing them to each supporting post.
Leftover fabric may need to be used to fill in any gaps.
Now customize to your wedding’s theme by embellishing the arch with ribbons, bows, pearls, string lights, or flowers.
Check your wedding arch structure to make sure it is strong enough.
Tack any loosely hanging material to finish everything off.
If you’re using tulle, you can also embellish any leftover tulle by adding tulle arrangements to the arch.
This method should work regardless of what arch you have, be it a wooden arch, bamboo arch, or rustic wedding arch.
Creative Ways to Drape Your Wedding Reception
Dramatic billowing fabric is sure to add some magic and romance to your reception venue. Draping can really add some ‘oomph’ to your reception, and sheer, gauzy materials like chiffon, organza or voile will make your setting look even more luxurious while intimate.
Draping is also a clever way to make a big reception hall feel cozier, and it can also hide some less appealing spots of the room that you don’t want the guests to see. Floor-to-ceiling panels can also section off large, wide spaces that also help to create a cozy atmosphere.
Let’s take a look at some creative ways to drape your wedding reception, no matter what the aesthetic or location.
- All-White Draping: Perfect for winter weddings, you can transform your reception venue into a snowy wonderland with some ivory draping! Passages can be draped in sheer white chiffon with additional greenery to really create the illusion of a winter garden and add a pop of color.
- Sheer Drapery Panels: If your reception venue has tall, soaring ceilings you can emphasize the height by adding draping gauzy panels for a dreamy, romantic look.
- Candlelit Stairway Draping: This look can make your entrance way more dramatic! A stairway or path lined with candles glows with romance.
- Coastal Reception: Create the illusion of a starry night with string lights and sheer ceiling drapes.
- Rustic Barn Reception: Drapery panels help to soften a rustic reception venue and can make a large barn feel more intimate. Floor to ceiling curtains acting like partitions for a couple of tables helps to create this illusion.
- Maypole Inspired Drapery: This kind of drapery can also soften a transparent reception tent. Multiple white panels in a spoke-and-wheel fashion from the center of the tent adds a touch of fairytale magic to proceedings.
- Outdoor Dinner Reception: For an outdoor dinner reception with a Tuscan feel, add an elegant gazebo overhead draped with flowing taupe fabric embellished with greenery and fresh flowers.
- Criss-Cross Overhead Draping: This is another method that makes a large, wide space feel cozier and intimate. Long, cascading swatches of fabric that criss-cross back and forth have an ethereal look.
- Structural Draping: Incorporating nature and drawing inspiration from it is a big part of rustic weddings, and minimal drapery can create the illusion of a ceiling while still letting the sun pour in and granting you glimpses of the great outdoors.
- Combine The Outdoors With The Indoors: If you’re lucky enough to be able to hold your wedding at your house, why not go for a whimsical fairytale theme? Creamy fabric embellished with lush greenery garlands is reminiscent of a romantic greenhouse.
Your wedding should be the happiest day of your life, as you commit to your partner in front of friends and family and celebrate your love with all those who are important to you. Simple touches like wedding drapery over arches at the ceremony, and decorating your reception venue with draping just add more romance to the day.
As you can see, there are plenty of fabrics to choose from, whether you’re going for a rustic, outdoor wedding, a luxurious, sophisticated affair, or whether you’re on a budget and want to get stuck in with some DIY.