Are you sewing a wedding chuppah canopy or having one made for you? You’re probably also looking for poles or a frame to hold up the canopy.
Birch branch chuppah frames are popular for weddings because they just look super charming. And birch chuppah kits can be ordered online, which makes them super convenient. Last fall I built a birch branch frame from a kit in order to take photographs of chuppah canopies that I’d made. For those of you looking for a frame to go with your canopy I thought I’d share my tips for buying and assembling it.
I put the frame together with help from one other person, and it took us about an hour. The instructions were clear, and the main posts were helpfully notched and had pre-drilled holes for the bolts that held them together.
Here are my tips for working with a birch branch chuppah frame kit, most of which would be useful when ordering and assembling most chuppah frame kits:
1. Confirm the dimensions of the top of the frame when ordering the kit
This is always a good idea, no matter who makes your frame, to make sure it’s a good size for your canopy. If the ends of the branches at the top of the frame extend beyond the upright poles, the length of the branches might not be the same as the dimensions of the top of the frame when it’s assembled.
For example, while the branches in the kit I used are seven feet long, the dimensions of the top of the frame are six feet by six feet.
So it’s a good idea to check with your kit’s manufacturer when you order.
2. Gather at least two to three people to assemble the kit
I was able to put the kit together with one other person, but a third set of hands would have been helpful at a key point of the assembly. When the main outline of the frame has been built but before the diagonal supports are added to the corners, the structure is a bit wobbly. We used clamps to hold the branches together at the corners at this stage and used a step ladder to steady one of the poles. It worked, and the final frame was super steady, but it would have been helpful to have a third person to help steady the structure while we applied the clamps.
If you’ve got a group of people gathered for the wedding, you might even want to ask four of them to hold the upright poles while a fifth person screws in the supporting branches. You wouldn’t need the full five people for the whole project, just for the few minutes it takes to steady the frame while the first supports are added.
3. Make sure the assembly team includes someone who knows how to use an electric power drill
Assembly of this particular kit required an electric power drill. If your kit requires a power drill, you’ll want to make sure you have someone on the team who knows how to use one safely.
4. Gather the tools by the day before assembly
A lot of the elements of a wedding have to come together in the final days and hours before the ceremony. You’ll want the chuppah assembly to go smoothly. Gather all your tools –like the drill and a ladder– the day before or make sure you know who’s responsible for bringing each tool.
Check the drill to make sure the battery is charged. You don’t want any last-minute delays on the day while you wait for the battery to recharge (I didn’t have a delay in assembling the chuppah but did have one while taking it apart when the battery died).
In addition to the tools called for in the instructions, I found it helpful to use a wrench to tighten the bolts. You might want to have one on hand as well.
5. Assemble the chuppah frame the day before the wedding
If possible, assemble the frame the day before the wedding. That way you’ll have plenty of time to put it together. You’ll still probably want to wait until the day of the ceremony to add the canopy, especially if the chuppah is outdoors.
If the wedding is outside and there’s a good possibility of rain overnight, it could be better to wait until the day of the ceremony to put up the frame. We found that after a night of rain, the branches stayed damp for a couple of days. If you need to set up the frame on the day of the wedding you’ll definitely want to line up enough people to help make the assembly go as smoothly as possible.
Find the canopy in the The SewJewish Etsy shop: White satin wedding chuppah canopy (the canopy in the photos is 6’x6′)