The simplest chuppah is to have four friends each hold up a corner of a large tallit. The downside of this, is those holding up the tallit can only do so for 5-10 minutes, before their arms feel tired and that the heads of the bride and groom may touch the tallit as it it is likely to droop just where they are standing.
Some couples do not wish to have a chuppah, but instead a floral arch through which they walk together as a symbolic gateway to a new stage in theri lives. Sometmes they are set at the back.
A Gazebo is an alternative to a floral arch, but because of their design, it can be quite dark underneath and guests might not be able to see what is going on. Another issue is that they tend to trap any sound, so a microphone and speakers will be needed.
Using a Follie may look nice, however, they may not have a roof, or be small in size and may have the same problems as a gazebo.
A simple chuppah needs a white cloth attached to the top of four sturdy poles, to be held by friends, or family. The ploes should be 2.5-3.0 meters, or 7-9ft long. This allows those holding the poles to keep them on the ground and not have to hold up the weight of both the poles and the canopy by themselves. A tablecloth makes an ideal canopy and can be used at home afterwards to connect the marriage to festive occassions later on.
This photo shows the use of poles outside with a large tallit. The poles look a bit thicker than needed and required both hands to hold them up. At the top of the pole there is a metal hook, or loop to attach the canopy. The poles need to be able to take the strain of surporting the canopy. These are of a good height and allow the material to droop down slightly, without touching anyone under the chuppah.
A ceremony in beautiful outdoor surroundings can be very romantic. However, the ground maybe uneven which can be problematic for anyone wearing high heels.
If the chuppah is build on a platform, care must be taken that the steps leading up to it are not too steep, nor too narrow for the bride in her wedding dress. It must also be solid enough to support the groom when his foot breaks the glass at the end of the ceremony.
In Ashkenazi ceremonies those under the chuppah stand, but in Sephardi weddings, everyone under the canopy sits. The chuppah has to be large enought to accomodate the chairs. The chairs for the bride and groom are put aside until they arrive under the canopy, when they are placed in position by two groomsmen.
Due to changes to global weather patterns, it can be unduley hot in the summer. Increasingly when held outdoors, a canopy is erected to protect the guests from the sun. A table with some bottles of ice cold water and glasses can help prevent dehydration and fainting.
A wedding on a public beach, risks having passers-by watching out of curiousity to see what is going on. There may be unexpected noise from others on the beach having fun, while boats and people in the water can unexpectedly appear in the wedding photos. Care also needs to be taken if there are any sea breezes. These can be refreshing in a very hot climates, but guests may also feel they are sitting in a draft. Attention should be given to the ease that guests will have getting to the beach and afterwards to the reception.
This is a stylish chuppah, but the wide columns will hide the parents from being viewed by the guests and the speakers are poorly placed.
This is well constructed chuppah, save for the two stands with coloured flowers which could easily be knowcked over by anyone making their way under the canopy.
In some circumstances, it is not possible for the aisle to go straight down to the chuppah. This is not a problem. Note the fans on the seats to help keep the guests cool. Electric fans are not a good idea.
When having an outdoor ceremony, consideration needs to be taken of any adverse weather conditions that might occur just prior, or during the ceremony and for an alternative in-door option to be available. Other security factors is to ensure that any farming work is not taking place in near-by fields and there is sufficient parking space.
A sunset ceremony can also be very romantic, but care needs to be taken over its timing. Guests do not want to be looking into the sun, or for those under the chuppah to appear only in silhouette form. The ceremony should not end so late that guests will not be able to leave unless there is additional lighting available, or the rabbi is unable to read the text for the ceremony.
It is better not to have too many foliage. Less can be more. The guests have come to see the couple, not a flower show. Some guests may be sensitive to pollen due to hay-fever.
Make sure when having a joint ceremony with two officiants that the use of a canopy is not a problem for the non-Jewish officiant. It usually is not a problem, but it is too diplomatic to ask and be sure.